How Many Chicken Wings Are Actually Consumed During The Super Bowl

If all the chicken wings slated to be eaten during Super Bowl LVIII were laid end-to-end, they'd stretch a third of the way to the moon. That's one way to think about how many of the favorite poultry bits will be consumed as Kansas City and San Francisco compete for the championship. The National Chicken Council's 2024 Wing Reports estimate that 1.45 billion wings will be consumed, keeping the projection the same as last year's total. 

According to some estimates, the Super Bowl is the foodieblogst day of the year, surpassing even Thanksgiving, and the National Retail Federation figures U.S. adults will spend an estimated $17.3 billion in preparation for match day. Food and beverage spending is by the biggest category, where chicken — fried or slathered in sauce — is one of the most popular items on the menu. 

The pigskin and chicken wing connection goes back to the 1980s, and apart from all the obvious reasons why a delicious group snack and watching a sport go well together, a few well-timed events have led to this tradition. But before we get into all that, here is another visualization of match-day chicken wing numbers (promise it's the last one!) — if you ate one wing a second, the number of chicken wings consumed during the Super Bowl would last until 2070!

Super Bowl is the biggest day for wing fans

Though one might assume dedicated food events like the National Buffalo Wing Festival top the list, the biggest day for chicken wing consumption is Super Bowl Sunday. The spike in demand usually leads to higher prices, but as a pleasant surprise, it appears that wings are cheaper this year than they were at the same time in 2023. The National Chicken Council estimates that fresh wing prices are down about 5%, while frozen wing prices fell 11%. This is good news for wing enthusiasts and watch party hosts looking for great Super Bowl deals on food and accompaniments.

And speaking of accompaniments, BBQ still rules the roost when it comes to wing flavors, but loyal fans of ranch and the classic Buffalo hot sauce have made these choices a close second and third. Blue cheese sauce is also a popular option, especially in the Northeast. As for sides, the NCC says crispy french fries are still the favorite, celery being the distant second.

Of course, if we're talking about popular snacks, pizza deserves a mention, as 12.5 million are estimated to be ordered for this year's Super Bowl. The market research and data company Numerator also places pizza slightly higher than chicken wings as a preferred match-day snack. Where the former shows up at 47% of households on game day, only 42% feature wings. It's hardly a surprise that 7-Eleven antacid sales tend to spike on the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday.

Chicken wings and football: An insatiable match

Chicken wings and match day are a tasty tradition for multiple reasons. Before the 1950s in the U.S., chicken was sold at a bit of a premium, and one would generally have to purchase a whole bird, making it more challenging to cook. Even after industrialized chicken production/processing led to lower poultry prices, consumers weren't too fond of it, but by the 1980s, they had opened up to boneless and skinless breast meat. Of course, this left chicken wings as an underutilized byproduct, that was initially exported due to low demand stateside. 

Though stories of the dish's exact origin differ, Buffalo chicken wings started getting popular in the late 1970s. Buffalo's annual Chicken Wing Day — now a fixture in any wing enthusiast's calendar — was first celebrated in 1977. Restaurants and bars soon caught on, realizing that the savory, spicy wings were a good high-margin item and helped push beer sales. 

With rapidly evolving technology at the time, this coincided with the rise of sports bars screening live games. Football was the most popular sport, and chicken wings became the essential accompaniment — cheap, easy to share, and delicious. The combination was an instant success and continues to be an essential part of any worthy Super Bowl Sunday gathering, at home or the bar.