What to expect on Super Bowl Sunday: Salty snacks, spike in sales and sorrowful spots

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Big Game just won't be the game without snacks, says American fans. Pic: GettyImages/arinahabich
The Big Game just won't be the game without snacks, says American fans. Pic: GettyImages/arinahabich

Related tags: Frito-lay north america, Pepsico, Planters, Snac International

Almost every die-hard American football fan won’t get a kick out of the Big Game this year without a big bowl of snacks.

The latest US Snack Index – a poll by PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay to examine the snacking habits of Americans during the Super Bowl – found that nine in 10 Americans say the game just isn’t the game without snacks.

Oh, nuts!

Mr. Peanut

Mr. Peanut – Planter’s monocle’d, top hatted mascot – has been roasted and ‘died’ at the age of 104.

The Kraft-Heinz owned snack brand killed off the leguminious legend in a teaser for its 2020 Big Game TV spot.

Entitled Road Trip – the 30 second spot follows the tragic accident of the Nutmobile and Peanut selflessly giving up his kernel for pals Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh.

“It’s with heavy hearts that we confirm Mr. Peanut has passed away at 104 years old,”​ said Samantha Hess, brand manager for Planters.

“He will be remembered as the legume who always brought people together for nutty adventures and a good time. We encourage fans to tune in to Mr. Peanut’s funeral during the third quarter of the Super Bowl to celebrate his life.”

Peanut was one of the most iconic food brand mascots in history since his ‘birth’ in 1916 by Antonio Gentile, a school student who came up with the core design for a Planters icon contest. His trademark monocle, top hat, and cane were added later by a commercial artist.

He first hit the television airwaves in the 1950s and has been voiced by big Hollywood stars like Robert Downey Jr.

Mr. Peanut’s funeral will air on the night of the Big Game.

The ubiquitous potato chip is the snack of choice for Super Bowl LIV viewers, followed by tortilla chips.

Retail sales take a trajectory spike on Super Bowl Sunday – historically, the​ biggest day of the year for salty snacks, generating a whopping $400m in one day.

According to SNAC International, Americans eat enough snacks on Super Bowl Sunday to fill 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

“The Super Bowl and America’s favourite snack foods are synonymous,”​ said Elizabeth Avery, president and CEO of SNAC.

“They are part of the fabric of America, bringing family and friends together for football, fun and their favourite foods.”

Keeping a pulse on consumer snacking

To keep fans fed and happy, Frito-Lay produces around 600 million pounds of snacks in the six weeks leading up to the game – nearly 20% of its annual snack production – and more than 67 million pounds of snacks during the week of Super Bowl.

“The Super Bowl is ingrained in American culture and a top week for the business of snacks​,” said Mike Del Pozzo, senior VP of sales and chief customer officer, Frito-Lay North America.

“For Frito-Lay, the Super Bowl is a cross-functional effort involving our sales, operations and marketing teams to ensure consumers have the best Super Bowl experience. Our US Snack Index is just one of the ways we keep a pulse on how consumers are snacking for Super Bowl, and we’re always excited to see the evolving trends around the biggest salty snacks day of the year.”

Frito-Lay has increased its marketing investment to capitalise on the heightened demand and excitement around Super Bowl. Its 2020 ‘Ready for Crunchtime’ campaign includes instore, out-of-home, digital and radio advertising, as well as two 30 second TV spots starring NFL legends Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Tony Gonzalez and Terry Bradshaw.

Food and football: the ubiquitous match

Another poll conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with snack and appetizer brand Farm Rich also found that food will take centre field this year.

Super Bowl LIV will be played on Sunday, February 2, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.

In fact, 40% of its respondents say they tend to get so wrapped up in the food and social side of things that they miss most of the game.

Almost half of those surveyed (42%) plan to attend a Super Bowl party this year, but the type of event differs across the country – from family-friendly bashes with lots of kids, to supper soirees, to real humdingers.

“Party styles will vary, but one constant is always the food, which has a way of bringing people together - sometimes even more so than the game itself,"​ said Ciera Womack, senior marketing manager, Farm Rich.

“Guests are looking for a fun social time, as well as a great food spread, in addition to exciting football and the latest commercials."

Key insights

US Snack Index

  • The majority of Americans (91%) say they will watch the Super Bowl this year, regardless of which teams hit the field.
  • 90% of fans say a Super Bowl spread isn’t complete without snacks and dips, while nearly eight in 10 (79%) prefer snacks like chips and pretzels. 70% of viewers will have piles of potato chips handy (up four points from the 2019 US Snack Index), followed by 54% of fans dishing up tortilla chips (versus 52% last year).
  • For the second year in a row, salsa is the fan’s favourite dip (16%). Cheese spreads and French onion follow (both at 13%), then guacamole (12%) and buffalo chicken (12%).
  • Although all generations prefer the classic flavours (53%), spicy is hot with younger consumers, echoing Frito-Lay's prediction that it would be the hottest snack trend of 2020.

Snack International

  • According to data from IRI – which compared the shopping data of last year’s Super Bowl week and the week prior – Americans ate more than 90 million pounds of snacks on Super Bowl Sunday.
  • The categories that saw the biggest sales hikes were:
    • Dry Dip Mixes: 53%
    • Refrigerated dips: 33%
    • Tortilla chips: 24.3%
    • Pretzels: 14.5%
    • Potato chips: 11.8%
    • This is the third year SNAC International has monitored consumer spending on snacks for the Super Bowl, with total purchasing on snacks rising from $370m to $404m during that time.

“The Super Bowl is an important event that is helping to generate sustained marketplace growth in the snacking sector by providing consumers with the products they love responsibly, sustainably and in sync with society’s shared values,”​ said Avery.

OnePoll

  • Food is officially more important than the game for 56% of fans attending a Super Bowl party.
  • The number four and five spots for attending were family time (45%) and to watch the commercials (38%), respectively.
  • Chicken wings (50%), followed by pizza (45%), chicken bites (38%), mozzarella sticks (33%) and potato chips (32%) should all be included for a successful party.
  • 74% of respondents admitted to eating more during a Super Bowl party than any other sporting event, including consuming six different snacks and an estimated 719 calories worth of snacks, on average.
  • Interestingly, it’s the older generations who are consuming more on game day. Baby Boomers can expect to consume an average of 1,710 calories at a Super Bowl party alone, compared to 388 calories by Gen Zers.
  • The biggest shopping day of the week for Big Game parties? The Saturday before the Super Bowl weekend.

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