Like turkeys at Thanksgiving, chicken wings play a starring role when Canadians host Super Bowl parties. Synonymous with football, consumption of the snack spikes across Canada every year on Super Bowl weekend.
Pinty’s, an Ontario based company that has been supplying and processing chicken wings since 1943, sells more than 250,000 pounds of wings in Canada across all of its channels (retail and food service) during Super Bowl. This amounts to a total of more than 11 million wings which, if stacked end to end, would cover 7,575 NFL-sized football fields (including end zones).
Pinty’s recently formalized a marketing partnership with the league.
Canadian owned and operated Boston Pizza is another beneficiary of the Canadian penchant for combining NFL football with chicken wings.
The restaurant/sports bar sees a significant spike in chicken wing sales at its 350 Canadian restaurants during Super Bowl.
When the Giants took on the Patriots in Indianapolis, Boston Pizza sold more bone-in wings through take-out and delivery than on any other day in 2012. In fact, compared to an average day, Super Bowl Sunday bone-in wing orders at Boston Pizza were up 150 per cent.
Wing prices typically rise in the fourth quarter of each year as restaurants stock up for Super Bowl, and peak in January during the run-up to the big game.
Even pizza, a tried-and-true staple of home Super Bowl parties for decades, can’t match the chicken wing’s momentum (demand for pizza was up 38.5 per cent compared to an average Sunday at Boston Pizza, about one third the increase in demand for wings).
The Super Bowl is far and away the number one annual sports telecast in Canada. It is also the basis for social gatherings in living rooms across the country.
NFL research shows that interest in the NFL among Canadian females increases close to 40 per cent during Super Bowl. Party décor with team colours, big screen televisions, and increasingly sophisticated finger food (pesto mushroom caps, tomato feta bites and crudités have emerged alongside chips and dip) are hallmarks of most Super Bowl parties.
Yet the chicken wing reigns supreme.
The US National Chicken Council suggests that the rise of the chicken wing and its correlation to American football all had to do with timing.
Cooking the whole bird was trendy in the sixties and seventies, but in the eighties U.S. consumers started preferring boneless-skinless breast meat, and wings became an inexpensive byproduct for chicken producers. Restaurants and bars realized they could charge low prices for the relatively inexpensive protein, and due to the spicy/salty nature of the sauce, they discovered that beer sales would go through the roof when customers ate wings.
At the same time, sports bars with multiple TVs and satellite dishes were becoming more and more common in America thanks to rapidly developing technology; and the most popular sporting event to watch with friends in bars is football. Wings were easily shareable and affordable, a great “group food” to eat with other people, and are the perfect pairing with a pitcher of beer. And so the relationship was born.
“Our data shows that chicken wings are not bound by gender or geographic lines,” Bill Roenigk, a market analyst at the Council, said in a release. “We also know that they are nonpartisan and politically independent. That is, there are really no extreme left wings or extreme right wings.”
“I suppose at the end of the day the real perfect storm is that they (wings) were in the right place at the right time,” Roenigk told the Globe and Mail’s Wency Leung on the eve of Super Bowl XLVI. “Being tasty, affordable and a ‘guy-thing’ is probably the simple answer to why chicken wings are practically synonymous with football.”
Photo Metroland Media