A wing-a-ding-ding, Frank Sinatra might have said.
Super Bowl Sunday is again upon us, and this year, the National Football League championship game will be contested by the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium in Houston. As sports fans across America watch quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Tom Brady throw “Hail Mary” passes downfield this weekend, they will—consciously or not—eat more than on any other day except Thanksgiving.
Chicken wings are the cornerstone of this momentary episode of gluttony.
The National Chicken Council—yes, there really is one, and it’s a Washington, D.C. trade association for the companies that raise and make chicken products—estimates that Americans will eat 1.33 billion chicken legs during Super Bowl LI weekend. (The many deals on them probably help.)
That’s an increase of 2% (or 30 million wings) from last year’s game day weekend. In total, the council notes, it’s enough wings—166.25 million pounds—to weigh 338 times more than the combined weight of all 32 NFL teams. And those fellas aren’t featherweights.
Who’s a part of the NCC, you ask? Just about everyone who makes chicken. Member companies of the council provide about 95% of the chicken products in the U.S., from Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson to Empire Kosher and OK Foods.
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It’s big business. The U.S. meat and poultry industry accounts for $1.02 trillion in total economic output—5.6% of gross domestic product—estimates the North American Meat Institute, the trade association for the meat and poultry industry.
If you’re wondering, the home regions of this year’s competitors are about neck-and-neck in the business of consuming chicken legs. The northeastern U.S.—Patriots Country, the council notes, though I suspect football fans in New York and Philadelphia might object—eats 12% more wings on average than the rest of the country. The South, Falcons Country, eats 13% more. And all of that comes on top of rising global rates of consumption for chicken, according to OECD-FAO projections.
And your heart goes: Wing-a-ding ding, wing-a-ding ding, wing-a-ding ding.