chicken wingsWhile football viewing might be down the rest of the season, the Super Bowl hasn’t lost its luster. A record 179.1 million Americans are expected to watch the game Sunday, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. While there’s no data on whether viewers pay more attention to the commercials than the game, there’s plenty of evidence that nearly everyone watching the game will be eating and drinking, Marketing Daily reports. Three-quarters of respondents to NRF’s survey plan to spend money on food and drink; about 60 million people will watch the game at a party; and 10.1 million will view it from a restaurant or bar.

Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest food holiday of the year, after Thanksgiving, according to a USDA fact sheet, which also says 23% of viewers will chow down on chicken wings. Higher prices and a slightly smaller supply will lead to a 1% decline in consumption, the National Chicken Council told CNBC, but Americans will still eat 1.23 billion wings as they celebrate the big game.

Wholesale wing prices are up 14%, to a record $2.11 per pound, ABC News reports. Wing prices traditionally increase this time of year, along with demand, but this year, a few factors are likely to conspire to keep prices high even after game day. For one thing, wings are still less expensive than beef and white-meat cuts of chicken, so demand is likely to remain stronger than usual. For another, the drought-related feed shortage that drove beef prices higher has done the same for chicken.

There’s one more factor that’s driving higher demand. McDonald’s began testing Mighty Wings last year in Atlanta and has since rolled them out at 500 Chicago-area restaurants, where they’ll stay on the menu at least until March, CNNMoney reports. “McDonald’s, just given its size and the fact that it has 14,000 stores across the country, could affect the supply,” analyst Mitchell Speiser said.

More things about wings:

  • These days, wings come in a wide variety of hot and barbecue sauce, but things were simpler in 1964 when Teressa Bellissimo made the first Buffalo wing at Anchor Bar in the New York city of the same name, according to the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • Two out of five Super Bowl watchers couldn’t care less about the game or the ads — they’re there for the food, according to the USDA.
  • New York Giants fans and residents of mid-Atlantic states are 24% more likely to order wings than consumers nationwide, while Patriots fans and New Englanders are 6% less likely, the USDA says.
  • Two Tyson Foods workers in Gwinnett County, Ga., were arrested and charged with stealing $65,000 worth of wings from their employer. CBS Atlanta did the math and figured out the haul totaled about 26,000 pounds.
  • For finicky wing fans, The Huffington Post reported on Trongs, a plastic, clawlike gadget that fits over your wing-grabbing fingers and keeps hands clean while you munch.

Image credit: mphillips007, via iStockphoto

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