Super Bowl Sunday: What We’re Eating, Where We’re Watching, How Much We’re Spending

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It’s almost time for that most American of semi-holidays, the Super Bowl. The football-championship-turned-media-spectacle automatically conjures certain images in most people’s minds: bars overflowing with drunken fans; pizza, Doritos and other unhealthy snacks at game watch parties; and tickets priced so high that it’s easy to convince yourself that you really do want to stay home and watch the commercials. However, not all myths about Super Bowl Sunday are true. Here’s a rundown of what people will be eating, where they’ll be watching, and why it might not be too late to get a ticket to the game itself.

You May Be Able to Score a Ticket for $1,000 – While that’s still a large chunk of change, consider that the average ticket for the 2011 Super Bowl between the Green Bay packers and Pittsburgh Steelers sold for an average of $3,650, according to ticket price aggregator TiqIQ. Tickets for this year’s matchup are currently selling for an average of $2,800, but TiqIQ senior director of data and communications Chris Matcovich says prices always drop precipitously as Super Bowl Sunday approaches. Entry-level prices, currently hovering around $2,200, could go as low as $1,000 by Sunday. The fact that Baltimore and San Francisco are both thousands of miles from New Orleans is also likely to lower demand and depress prices. For reference, here’s the last five years of average Super Bowl ticket resale prices, per TiqIQ:

  • Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2009): $2,097.22
  • Indianapolis Colts vs. New Orleans Saints (2010): $2,329.36
  • Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2011): $3,649.91
  • New York Giants vs. New England Patriots (2012): $2,955.56
  • San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens (2013): $2,795.08

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Not Everybody’s Scarfing Down Junk Food – Though you might imagine that a proper plate of Super Bowl snacks has to be high in salt and/or sugar, more fans are opting for healthier snacks this year. According to a Nielsen survey, vegetables will be the third-most popular snack this Sunday, beating out pizza, buffalo swings, and sweets, among others. “You see consumers increasingly cutting down on fats, eating more natural and fresh foods, less processed foods,” says James Russo, senior vice president of global consumer insight at Nielsen. “That behavior on a macro scale is filtering into the Super Bowl experience.”

The Bar is Not the Place to Be on Super Bowl Sunday – Less than 1.5% of respondents to the Nielsen survey said they planned to watch the game at a bar or restaurant. Even in New Orleans, where the game is taking place, bars aren’t expecting large crowds. While bars often do big business during regular NFL games, the Super Bowl is a different type of event. “The Super Bowl is in some ways an American holiday,” Russo says. “It’s gathering the friends and family around the at-home experience and all the other components that tie into that.”

Funny Commercials Dominate Over Sentimental Ones – Everyone knows that the commercials in-between the Super Bowl are at least as much of a spectacle as the game itself. According to the Nielsen survey, 91% of of Super Bowl viewers are interested in watching the commercials, which would work out to about 100 million people based on last  year’s viewership numbers. The commercials that really resonate with fans are the funny ones, though: 81% of respondents to the Nielsen survey said they enjoy funny ads the most, while 25% said they enjoyed sentimental ads. Just like in Hollywood, we also enjoy sequels—a quarter of respondents said they enjoy ads for products that have been featured in previous Super Bowls.

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Beer Remains the Alcohol of Choice – Even if some people are trading in potato chips for carrot sticks, they’re still not giving up their brewski: 42% of respondents to the Nielsen survey plan to drink beer during the game, the largest share for any type of alcohol. Meanwhile, 33% of respondents will drink wine, and 22% will opt for liquor. An old-fashioned Coke will do the trick for many, though, with 71% saying they plan to drink carbonated beverages.