Snacks to Play Pivotal Role in Big Game Watch Parties

Three in five consumers say they promise guests a game-winning spread at their Super Bowl viewing party.
Danielle Romano
Managing Editor
watching football

NATIONAL REPORT — Professional football's premier event is right around the corner, and consumers are gearing up for the big game, especially with snacks.

According to the "Hershey Pulse Survey," conducted in January by The Hershey Co.'s Consumers Insights team, nearly half of consumers (48%) said they have plans for the Super Bowl on Feb. 11. 

When it comes to their reason for tuning into the event:

  • The game itself is considered the main event for 51% of viewers. 
  • Men (63%) are more likely than women (38%) to say the game is the best part, while the commercials appeal to 27% of respondents.
  • Nearly a quarter of respondents (22%) said they tune in to see the halftime show.

Because watch parties require planning, half of respondents noted that their shopping will begin at least one week before the Super Bowl, while 30% said they plan to hit stores in the week leading up to game day. About 15% will wait until the day before, while 5% will rush to the store for last-minute purchases the day of the game. 

[Read more: Candy Companies Gear Up for Sweetest Day of the Year]

Aside from shopping in store, more consumers are preparing by ordering what they need online, whether to pick-up in store or get it delivered, the Hershey Consumer Insights team found.

Hershey Pulse Survey January 2024

According to the results, 60% of those polled said inflation will impact their purchasing decisions for the big game. To cut costs, shoppers are thinking creatively and making plans to buy in bulk (30%), seek out coupons and promotions (29%), purchase less overall (26%), opt for lower-priced brands (25%) and buy smaller sizes (24%). 

"Another great way to save is to host a potluck and encourage guests to bring along their favorite sweet or salty noshes to share," said Sheree Thomas, senior manager, Consumer Insights for The Hershey Co.

"#JOMO" is Real

While attending the Super Bowl is a cultural phenomenon for some viewers, others have a different opinion. 

A whopping 81% of Americans say watching the year's biggest game from the couch is much better, according to Frito-Lay's annual "Super Bowl Snack Index." The results reveal an uptick in symptoms of "#JOMO (Joy of Missing Out)," as nearly half of respondents also admit they will prioritize watching the game surrounded by their favorite foods over large social gatherings with friends. 

"The Super Bowl is a cultural phenomenon that we look forward to being an integral part of each year," said Denise Lefebvre, senior vice president of research and development for PepsiCo Foods. "Whether Americans choose to enjoy it with a quiet evening or at a large social gathering, it's clear that culinary creations will rule the day. At Frito-Lay, we are dedicated to understanding our consumers' evolving food preferences and behaviors to ensure they have the options they want and every meal occasion is joyful." 

The Pregame Party Playbook 

As #JOMO takes hold, Frito-Lay recommends calling three game-winning plays to guarantee celebrations are a touchdown: 

[Read more: Instant Commerce Analysis Predicts 2024 Candy Trends]

Play No. 1: Draft a Dream Team

  • Three in five consumers say they promise guests a game-winning spread will be at their Super Bowl viewing party. This is particularly true for those ages 40 and under (77%) and parents (74%).
  • Potlucks prevail as the preferred party format at 67%, highlighting the popularity of collaborative celebrations over host-provided fare, PepsiCo said.

Play No. 2: Tackle the Party Menu

  • Seventy-percent of experienced hosts will gear up for the game by planning a menu for their guests. More than half (51%) will kick off their game day preparations at least a week in advance. 
  • When it comes to the essentials, running out of food is considered the ultimate party foul by one in three guests, who cite it as worse than people blocking the TV, talking through the game and talking through the commercials. 

Play No. 3: Execution in the End Zone

  • An overwhelming 81% would rather watch the Super Bowl from cozy confines than at a raucous party in Las Vegas, the host city for this year's championship. Parents (27%), however, are more likely than nonparents (15%) to want a night out on the Vegas Strip. 
  • According to PepsiCo, the game changer, however, is that nearly half of Americans (46%) would rather celebrate surrounded by food than friends.

Snacks That Touch Down

The Dip Dynasty

The tradition of chips and queso is timeless, where salsa (27%), French onion (21%) and queso (20%) reign supreme as the top three rival dips. Salsa is the game day favorite among Generation Z, millennials and Generation X, while French onion is MVP among baby boomers.

Culinary Combos

Eighty-percent of Americans consider combining multiple snacks and food "to create the perfect bite" as an "art form." Kansas City's barbeque (63%) dominates San Francisco's fish tacos (37%) in a head-to-head matchup of famous foods from the teams' home states. 

Snacks on the Center Plate

With a 35% increase in consumers integrating their favorite snack products into meals, snacks are taking center stage in a new way. Whether it's yearning for a specific snack (51%) or simply being too busy to cook (44%), Frito-Lay's "2024 Snack Index" predictions reveal that snacks are the essential ingredients for easy, no-prep meals — including those brought to Super Bowl parties, PepsiCo said.

The Postgame Pout 

Whether their team clinches victory or suffers defeat, more than one-third of fans expect to call in sick the Monday after the big game. Men are leading the charge, with 40% inclined to skip work vs. 27% of women. Across generational lines, Gen Z (46%) and millennials (40%) are most likely to miss at least part of the workday. Additionally, fans of the winning team are 56% more likely to take a celebratory sick day than their counterparts. 

The survey for Frito-Lay's annual "Super Bowl Snack Index" was conducted between Jan.19–25 among a sample of 2,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Based in Plano, Texas, Frito-Lay North America is the $23 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo Inc., which is headquartered in Purchase, N.Y. Frito-Lay snacks include Lay's and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos and Tostitos tortilla chips and branded dips, Cheetos snacks, Stacy's pita chips, PopCorners popped-corn snacks, SunChips multigrain snacks and Fritos corn chips. The company operates 30-plus manufacturing facilities across the United States and Canada, more than 200 distribution centers and services 315,000 retail customers per week through its direct-store-delivery model.

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