An Up-Close Look at Seven Popular Big Game Categories

Feb. 7, 2024
By Mike Wilkening, Communications Manager, ARC (CMA | SIMA)

Let’s suppose you wanted to resist hearing or seeing anything about the Super Bowl this week.

Could you make it work?

Hey, maybe you could. You’re a crafty, determined, quiet type, a real secret agent. Now, it would be difficult in a world where Taylor Swift may well be bigger than professional football, but you could give it a run. You might even succeed for a few days.

But if you head to the grocery store, forget it. It’s not going to work. The Football Industrial Complex is going to get you. You’ll run into a display for chips and dips, 0r a large mound of avocados on sale, or someone with a cartful of hot sauce, ranch dressing, beer, and chicken wings.

Game over. The Super Bowl wins, again. Better get your cart.

With the Big Game approaching, here are trends, facts, and figures around seven popular Super Bowl products. Please feel free to share these at your Super Bowl parties — but between plays, not during the commercials. The commercials are sacred on this day.

And so is the food.

Now, the list:

1. Avocados: Did you know? One-fifth of all avocados consumed in the U.S. are eaten around the Super Bowl, as the Produce Blue Book notes. Most of us probably have a handle on judging avocado ripeness — softer is better, but please, don’t dent the darn thing and not buy it — but fewer folks likely know how to make them ripe at home, so here are some tips.

2. Cheese:  “Americans Will Buy Enough Cheese to Create Eight Million Cheeseboards for The Big Game,” reads this timely headline from the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. We trust their math, and cheeseboards always do well at parties. If you’re looking to make a cheese dip for guests, Bobby Flay’s queso fundido recipe has never failed us, and it also allows us to walk around the kitchen in an apron, doing our best Bobby Flay voice. Look, some things are bigger than football.

3. Chicken Wings: We turn now to the National Chicken Council, which reports that Americans are expected to eat 1.45 billion wings this Super Bowl, about the same as last year. In the public interest, we did some math, and we calculated that if Taylor Swift’s 91.5 million X/Twitter followers divided those 1.45 billion wings equally, they would have about 16 wings apiece. Interestingly, fresh chicken wing prices are down five percent at retail, with frozen down 11 percent, which is great news, as even more of your disposable income will then be available for things like, say, concert tickets, or an NFL jersey.

4. Chips and Pretzels: According to Circana data shared by SNAC International, savory snack sales are expected to rise 29% this Super Bowl. Tortilla chip sales were up about 20% year-over-year in during the 2023 Super Bowl, with about 36 million pounds sold in the U.S. Potato chips and pretzels were up about 17 percent in last year’s Big Game, with 32 million pounds of potato chips purchased and 1.3 million pounds of pretzels bought. Corn chips, meanwhile, saw sales skyrocket 37 percent during Super Bowl 57, up to seven million pounds.

5. Decorations: The National Retail Federation estimates that U.S. spending on the Super Bowl will reach $17.3 billion this year, up about five percent year-over-year. Per the NRF, eight percent of Super Bowl spending is on decorations, which means nearly $1.4 billion will be spent on this category alone in the U.S. That is a lot of football balloons.

6. Ready-to-Drink Cocktails: What beverages do you buy for a Super Bowl party? Bottled water, soft drinks, maybe beer and wine?  These are standard offerings, but ready-to-drink cocktails appear ready to muscle their way in, too. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), ready-to-drink cocktail sales were up nearly 27% in 2023, reaching $2.8 billion. This is a fast-growing category, and particularly when considering overall spirit sales growth was flat last year.

7. Sub Sandwiches: While you can make your own sub sandwiches at home for the Super Bowl, many will order out. And sandwiches are a booming Super category. According to Restaurant Business, citing Consumer Edge data, sub shops Potbelly, Subway, and Jersey Mike’s were among the fast-casual restaurants seeing sales increase 20 percent year-over-year during the 2023 Super Bowl pitting the Chiefs and Eagles. Food for thought for retailers and CPGs, we say. Maybe there’s a “make your own sub meal kit” opportunity down the road.

Enjoy the Big Game!

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