What’s the (Food) Spread for the Big Game?

More than 110 million Americans are expected to watch the Big Game a week from this Sunday. You may be one of them. 

Some people will watch it in restaurants and bars. Others will view it at parties. Some folks will sit quietly at home and watch it by themselves or with family members. 

The one thing nearly all of these viewers will have in common is that they’ll eat during the game. This is the one game of the year in which the “spread” is more about food than it is about points. 

But will Big Game partiers be able to eat the foods they most enjoy during this annual event? Or will they experience shortages of some of the items they are used to consuming on this annual occasion? 

Running Out of the Runner-Up?

They say chicken is the second most popular Big Game food, behind pizza. Especially chicken wings. But the availability of chicken is not what it used to be. And the price is higher than before.

According to USFoods.com, prices have risen for some chicken parts. Including small, medium, and large chicken wings. 

And the National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that the number of chicken eggs placed in incubators last month is down from the previous year.

In past years, Americans consumed more than 100 million pounds of chicken wings on the day of the Big Game. That represents more than 1.25 billion individual wings.

But based on less availability and higher prices, that could change this year. You may see less chicken on your plate than you have in past years while you’re enjoying the country’s most highly watched TV program of the year. 

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Of course, millions of people will be dining on other foods besides pizza and chicken while watching the Big Game. 

Here are some of them, in no particular order: 

  • Meatballs
  • Guacamole
  • Chips and salsa
  • Tater tots
  • Chili
  • Buffalo wings
  • Hummus
  • Nachos
  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Spinach artichoke dip

Some Stately Food Choices

Now, people in some states may prefer one particular food on Big Game Sunday, while folks in another state might prefer a different one.

Here’s how this breaks down:

Chili – Most popular in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Meatballs – Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Chips & salsa – Arizona, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Texas.

Nachos – California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. 

Pigs in a blanket – Georgia, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Buffalo wings – Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Tater tots – Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota

Queso – Alaska, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

Fried Pickles – Arkansas.

Garlic knots – Colorado.

Crab ball – Delaware.

Guacamole – Florida.

Seven-layer dip – Idaho and Utah.

Spinach and artichoke dip – Louisiana.

Mozzarella sticks – Nebraska.

Hummus – Nevada and Washington.

Sweet potato fries – Oregon.

Garlic parmesan wings – Rhode Island.

Chili dog – South Carolina.

Pepperoni roll – West Virginia.

Here’s What You May Notice Missing 

The problem this year is that some of those food items could be in shorter supply during 2024. Due to extreme weather events, labor shortages, and supply chain issues, among others. Stocking up on them now – if you can – is a good idea. 

Among those food items are:

  • Spices. You might notice more bland dips than usual at your Big Game party.
  • Dairy products. It’s costing farmers more money to feed their cows these days.
  • Eggs. Fewer chickens equals fewer eggs.
  • Seafood. Overfishing and water pollution is keeping fish populations down.
  • Grains. Droughts and floods have wreaked havoc with grains grown in the Heartland. This can affect the amount of pasta and rice that are available.
  • Fresh produce. International trade tensions are a factor, as well as rising fuel costs.
  • Meat and poultry. The lack of food for cows and pigs, and diseases affecting chickens, are cutting production.

Statistics for Your Scorecard

Would you like to hear some other Big Game food statistics? Here goes… 

  • Big Game Sunday is the second most popular day to order takeout. Thanksgiving is first.
  • One in seven Americans orders takeout on Big Game Sunday.
  • More than 50% of Americans who eat chicken wings prefer ranch dressing as a dip.
  • The two most popular foods to dip are veggies and chips. Well over 11 million pounds of veggies and chips will be dipped on Big Game Sunday.
  • Despite the cold in many areas of the country, the weekend of the Big Game is the second biggest grilling time of the year, behind only the Fourth of July.

Preparation for the Win 

Many of us will be watching the Big Game, regardless of whether we have a rooting interest in one of the teams. 

But nearly all of us will be eating during the game and that’s something I think we all have an interest in.

No matter where we watch it, perhaps we won’t enjoy all of the foods we normally do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stock up on the food items we do like best.

And if the trend of higher prices and less availability continues – and some of the items we store have a long shelf life – perhaps we’ll put them out next year around this time. Our Big Game party guests will be impressed.

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