Americans are about to devour a record 1.42 billion wings along with 12.5 million pizzas, also a record, all while watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers battle for the Lombardi Trophy.
The National Chicken Council’s annual Wing Report predicts a 2 percent increase in wing consumption for Super Bowl LV over last year. The American Pizza Community (APC), is also confident about Super Bowl sales topping the estimated 12.5 million pizzas sold in 2020.
There are several reasons for the uptick, National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super says. “If you think about it, restaurants like wing joints and pizza places were built around takeout and delivery, so they didn’t have to change their business model that much during the pandemic. Wings travel well and hold up during delivery conditions. Plus, they align with consumer desire for comfort food during the pandemic. Chicken production remained steady in 2020, and as long as people are sitting around watching TV and maybe drinking a beer, wings will remain in the game. Don’t forget the air fryer revolution, either.”
How do 1.42 billion chicken wings stack up? Picture this:
- Assuming Kansas City Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid can eat three wings per minute, it would take him more than 900 years to eat 1.42 billion wings.
- 1.42 billion wings could circle the circumference of the Earth 3 times.
- 1.42 billion wings laid end would stretch 19 times from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO, to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL.
In restaurants, servings of chicken wings were up 7 percent in 2020 versus 2019 despite an 11 percent decline in trips to commercial restaurants during the same time period, according to the NPD Group/CREST, for the year ending December 2020.
Additionally, total U.S. wing retail/supermarket sales during the pandemic months totaled almost $3 billion, up 10.3 percent from a year ago. The in-store frozen wing category is up an astonishing 37.2 percent. A significant increase in air fryers may be why.
USDA data also confirm the “hot” demand. According to the most recent Cold Storage Reports, there was a 29 percent reduction in November and a 24 percent reduction in December in year-over-year wing inventories in cold storage, meaning restaurants and retailers took a lot of wings out of freezers and stocked up months in advance for the big game.
A recent National Chicken Council survey also reiterated that the pandemic didn’t keep people from their wings — in fact, one-quarter of respondents said they ate more wings during the pandemic. Additional wing findings include:
- Americans are more likely to prefer eating bone-in, traditional wings (53 percent) than “boneless wings.”
- Two in five (38 percent) Americans say that the breast is their favorite cut of chicken, but wings (20 percent) are second.
- While there are a variety of wing sauces to choose from, BBQ (52 percent), ranch (46 percent) and buffalo/hot sauce (41 percent) are the preferred.
- French fries are by far the preferred side for wings (72 percent), distantly followed by celery (14 percent).
Pizza operators around the country are counting on this year’s big game to be no different than previous years and have been preparing to tackle the big rush coming for the game. Consider some pizza stats by several APC members:
- Pizza Hut said they will give its Hut Rewards members a free medium two-topping pizza starting Feb. 8 if the record for the fastest touchdown at a Super Bowl is broken.
- Hungry Howie’s, 550 locations in 21 states, predicts that they’ll sell 300,000 pizzas on game day – 40,000 more than they would on a typical Sunday.
- Domino’s sells more than 11 million slices on The big day.
- The day of the game is the highest tipping day of the year.
- The most popular pizza topping is pepperoni.
- Peak ordering time is exactly one hour before kickoff.
- More than 50 percent of orders come via digital channels.
- 94 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month.
- The average American eats about 46 slices a year.
- There are 34 million ways to order a pizza.
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