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An Overflowing Super Bowl

Snacks score during the big game

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It's the day football fans eagerly anticipate each year - Super Bowl Sunday! It's also a big day for snack food makers, pizza delivery companies and breweries.

The Snack Food Association calculated that in 2001 (the last year they collected the data), the millions of Americans watching the Super Bowl ate (in million pounds):

Potato chips —12.4

Tortilla chips — 9.2

Popcorn — 4.2

Pretzels — 3.8

Snack nuts (as opposed to main meal nuts?) — 3.1

That's 32.7 million pounds of — let's admit it — junk food in one day. Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving in the volume of food and alcohol consumed per person on any given day.

Retail sales for other typical football fare also skyrocket in the week leading up to the big game. Take chili, for example. In 2003, sales of chili seasoning mix went up 108 percent over an average week; 99 percent more canned chili beans and 41 percent more canned chili were sold. No statistics were available on the spike in sales of Gas-X. We bought 97 percent more refrigerated cocktail franks and, inexplicably, 64 percent more oyster crackers.

Super Bowl is a bonanza for pizza purveyors, too. Domino's, "the recognized world leader in pizza delivery," anticipates selling more than 1.2 million pizzas nationwide on game day — a 42 percent increase from a typical Sunday. Papa John's and Pizza Hut will undoubtedly peddle more pizza than usual, too.

Domino's has done exhaustive research on Super Bowl pizza trends. They report that 35 percent of respondents eat about three slices of pizza, while 2 percent admit to eating the whole pie. Most of that pizza will be topped with pepperoni, the number one favorite among football fans.

Both Philadelphia and Boston will start out with high pizza sales as the game begins, but by the end of the night, Domino's predicts it will see a higher sales increase in the city with the winning team. If a NFC team wins over an AFC team, Domino's will see a higher sales increase in other NFC team cities, and vice versa.

The beverage of choice to wash down all of that food is — surprise! — beer. Nationally, more beer will be guzzled on this Sunday than on most days of the year. Some unconfirmed reports claim that 5 percent of the roughly 203 million barrels of beer sold in the US every year is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. What is really surprising, though, is that Super Bowl lags behind the Big Three beer days: Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Super Bowl Sunday has become a sort of holiday itself, complete with its own traditions — copious amounts of booze, junk food, and bellowing at the TV screen. For a break in one of those traditions, instead of the usual chips, dips and pizza this year, why not honor the two competing teams? Serve Philly Cheese Steaks and New England Clam Chowder — there's a good use for all those extra oyster crackers.

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