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Why Chicken Wings Are the Super Bowl’s Real MVP

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Americans will eat 1.3 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday.

Hansol Jeong / EyeEm

The chicken wing is king when it comes to Super Bowl grub. The snack, in all its flavors and varieties, dominates the first Sunday of February. This year, Americans are expected to eat 1.3 billion wings on game day, according to the National Chicken Council, a trade association for the United States chicken industry. That's no surprise when looking at data, which proves that chicken is one of the most popular party foods during the Super Bowl. No matter how it's purchased — in a supermarket, at a restaurant, or via take-out — wings skyrocket in sales on Football Sunday.

Wing sales at Wingstop’s 800 locations go up by an average of 190 percent on Super Bowl Sunday. Restaurants are already preparing for the influx in demand. According to a rep, Hooters of America plans to order an additional 22,000 wings per location to prepare for the game-day demand — that's more than 7 million wings in total it's preparing to serve on Sunday.

Wingstop, the wing chain with more than 800 locations across the country, sold more than 8 million chicken wings during the 2015 Super Bowl. A rep for the wing chain says wing sales go up by an average of 190 percent on Super Bowl Sunday. And when people aren't watching the game at a restaurant or bar, many are ordering take-out wings. Data from GrubHub, the online food ordering service, shows orders for chicken wings more than doubled last Super Bowl Sunday compared to the four preceding and subsequent Sundays. Meanwhile, demand for snacks like pizza, nachos, and potato skins, also popular orders during the game, doesn't increase nearly as much as it does for chicken wings.

Of course, Americans are washing down all the chicken wings with beer. Data from the U.S. Census shows even though beer sales usually plummet in January, the months of February and March mark the beginning of a climb to better summer sales. It’s no wonder beer ads dominate the big game.