The MVPs of snacks

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 4, 2012

Josh Williamson, Winn-Dixie store director, stocks a cooler in preparation of this weekend’s big game after the grocery chain built a marketing plan to capitalize on the consumer’s need for quick, easy party food. Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

Not only will more of us watch Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday night, but more of us will spend the game stuffing our faces.

That translates into big sales for businesses that cater to those hearty appetites.

The National Chicken Council estimates Americans will scarf down more than 1.25 billion wing portions – or more than 100 million pounds – making Super Bowl weekend the biggest chicken-chomping time of the year.

“If the wings were laid end-to-end they would circle the circumference of the Earth more than twice – a distance that would reach approximately a quarter of the way to the moon,” the Washington, D.C. trade group said in a statement. The data is based on production and consumption data.

“Chicken wings are becoming to the Super Bowl what turkeys are to Thanksgiving,” said Bill Roenigk, senior vice president and chief economist for the chicken council.

To supermarket managers like Josh Williams and Chantz Robertson at the Andalusia Winn-Dixie, that statement is nearly as sweet as the sounds of the game’s halftime show.

“It’s the second biggest wing and pizza holiday next to the bowl games,” Robertson said. “Which means great business for us.”

Robertson said the store experiences a 20-30 percent increase in pizza sales and a 40 percent increase in wing sales.

“Both are easy party food,” he said. “You pop them in the oven, and you’ve got plenty to time to watch the game and enjoy your company.

“In fact, Winn-Dixie has built a whole marketing plan around the game,” he said, speaking of the company’s “make a meal deal,” – or a ready-made Super Bowl party – where customers can buy two frozen pizzas and get a two-liter Pepsi, pack of cocktail smokies and a box each of cheese sticks and Tyson Any’tizers.

Twenty-three percent of us will watch the game with wings in hand, second only to the 32 percent who will be noshing on spreads and dips, according to a Harris Interactive “Snack Down Survey.”

And you can rest assured that every local grocery store will be open and ready to help stock those party platters.