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PITTSBURGH -- Forget about its importance as a sporting event; the Super Bowl is one of the nation's biggest food events of the year, and supermarket operators this season are making sure they score every extra point they can.
While the kickoff for Super Bowl XL officially isn't until game time next Sunday, the extra gains have already kicked in at Giant Eagle, "the official supermarket" of the Steelers.
"We do see an increase in store traffic and party planning purchases, particularly in the deli, prepared foods and general merchandise departments, for each post-season game," said to Rob Borella, spokesman for the chain, which has 138 corporate and 78 independently owned and operated stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north central West Virginia and Maryland.
Radio spots and ROP ads in local newspapers have been helping to rally interest, Borella said. Anything that has the Steelers logo emblazoned on it is selling briskly; in the in-store bakeries, for example, Steelers cakes, cupcakes, and giant Steelers cookies are top sellers.
At Food Lion, based in Salisbury, N.C., demand for deli party trays during the Super Bowl doubles that of regular weeks. It trails only Christmas and New Year's in party tray sales, said Jeff Lowrance, Food Lion's spokesman. "Even people who aren't sport fans enjoy a good Super Bowl party. And every good party has plenty to eat."
Lowrance added that the even "has become the total snack holiday." In addition to cold cuts, chicken wings, and carrot sticks, bounteous amounts of chips and dip are also consumed during the big game. Super Bowl week is Food Lion's third-highest salty snack sales period, after July 4th and Labor Day, which rank first and second, respectively.
When compared to a normal week, chip and dip sales increase 18-20 percent during the Super Bowl, he added. Other snacks see similar sales jumps; cookie sales increase approximately 20 percent, peanuts jump 15-20 percent, and crackers and popcorn sales go up 10 percent.