Chicken wings and football are a perfect match. There’s no denying it, it’s in the data. Last year, Americans ate a record-breaking 1.4 billion wings during Super Bowl LIV.
However, wings, a longtime Super Bowl Sunday staple, faces a crisis ahead of today’s big game.
According to the National Chicken Council, wing consumption is expected to increase to a record 1.42 billion wings.
If you want to get your hands on the wings, it’s going to cost you. According to the data, wing prices have risen over 20 percent this year.
The chicken sandwich may have finished 2020 as poultry’s number one player, but during the Super Bowl, the hallowed wing is the real MVP.
“Super Bowl is the single-biggest wing occasion,” National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super said. “The demand for chicken has been increasing, and consumption is at an all-time high. But definitely around Super Bowl time, wings are king.
If we can learn anything from previous years, it’s that Americans cherish the chicken wing. It’s almost like the Super Bowl acts as merely an excuse to devour copious amounts of wings.
Nako Rafalidis, who owns a Wing shop in Delaware, said their 2020 Super Bowl weekend wing sales were through the roof.
“Last year, we sold 20,000 wings within a matter of six hours,” he said.
Chicken Wing Crisis Ahead of Super Bowl LV
Like many other wing restaurants, he expects this year to be even bigger, with at least 40,000 wings pre-ordered.
“At certain points the only options you have is to buy frozen or to buy fresh from outside of the state,” he explained. “You end up doing a lot of travel. Sometimes we have to drive all the way up to New York to pick up 40 case boxes of wings fresh.”
A huge factor contributing to the shortage could very likely be from the pandemic. While many Americans stayed at home instead of eating at restaurants, it didn’t keep them ordering wings via delivery or stocking up at the grocery store.
“If you think about it, restaurants like wing joints and pizza places were built around takeout and delivery, so they didn’t have to change their business model that much during the pandemic,” Super says.
While COVID-19 may have kept Americans from doing their normal activities, the trusty chicken wing always had our backs.
During a 2020 survey, the National Chicken Council found Americans one-quarter of the participants ate more chicken wings during the pandemic than they did in previous years.