Harris Releases Snack Survey

January 24/Food & Beverage Close-Up -- Supervalu announced that the time for resolving to eat healthy is over for the majority of football fans, who happily cross their dietary goal lines to guilt-free snacking while watching the NFL playoff and Super Bowl games, according to the "2011 Supervalu Snack Down Survey" by Harris Interactive.

According to a release, consistent with last year's inaugural survey, the majority of respondents said they "never'" feel guilty about what they eat while watching the games; however, this year a significantly higher percentage of men (60%) than women (46%) indicated no guilt about fumbling their health goals. In fact, the majority said they will choose snacks they do not consider healthy, apparently viewing the game as an excuse to tackle their favorite foods. Top picks for this year's game were dips and spreads, up from last year to 30%; chicken wings at 22%; and pizza at 17%. However, compared to last year's number-one favorite, the "chips were down," with chips and salty snacks, such as peanuts, popcorn or pretzels, falling from first place snack choice to fourth place at 14%. Ever popular burgers, dogs and brats came in at 9%.

"It's clear from the survey that fans are betting on finding convenient and affordable foods to serve at their playoff and Super Bowl parties," said Julie Dexter Berg, SUPERVALU's chief marketing officer. "We recognize that shoppers will be looking for some simple ideas to round out their game-day party menus."

More than 80% plan on watching the Super Bowl in their own home, the survey found. Among those who plan on hosting a Super Bowl party, the majority of hosts plan on doing all of the preparation themselves. The amount fans plan to spend on foods and snacks is down compared to last year.

Local supermarkets continued to be the most common place fans plan to shop for Super Bowl party food and snacks (80%). This is followed by discount stores, mass merchants or warehouse clubs (42%); restaurants, caterers, gourmet food stores or delicatessens (9%); and convenience stores (5%).

While simple, easy-to-purchase snack choices were the hands-down fan favorites, some of the more unusual party foods cited by fans were snacks of their own creation, ranging from cricket appetizers, fried rattlesnake and octopus on crackers to venison nachos and fried Twinkies.

To help meet its customers' needs, the Supervalu Snack Down Survey also took a closer look at the snacking habits of people living in markets where its family of stores are located, including Baltimore/Washington, D.C.; Boise, Idaho; Boston; Chicago; Las Vegas; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Norfolk, Va.; Orange County/Los Angeles; Philadelphia; St. Louis; and San Diego.

The company noted that snacking traditions in specific markets were sometimes directly tied to their favorite teams:

* Philadelphia -- Cheezed off but not about their favorite snacks. Even though Green Bay's cheeseheads knocked the locals out of the playoffs, Philadelphia football fans still name the Philly Cheese Steak as their favorite snack food. The Philly Cheese Steak ranks the highest in the survey as a special food item associated with any NFL team.

* Chicago -- Expecting for the "wurst." Chicagoans had the highest percentage indicating they associated sausage or kielbasa with their favorite team, "da Bears."

* Minneapolis/St. Paul -- Keeping their fingers crossed. Even though the hometown Vikings seemed a bit cursed by bad luck when it comes to Super Bowls and championship football games, their fans believe their snacking habits and food choices had little to do in the way of contributing to the bad karma. However, 8%eat the same foods every time the purple play.

Other local market survey findings, as described by the company, include:
* Baltimore/Washington, D.C. -- Caught red-handed. While the majority of Super Bowl snacks are considered somewhat lacking in nutritional value, the majority of respondents indicated that they do not feel guilty about what they have eaten while watching the game. Residents in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area had the highest percentage (49%) of people who said they sometimes feel guilty about what they ate.

* Boise, Idaho -- Training table traditions. Dips and spreads, for use with chips, crackers or veggies, topped the list of favorite Super Bowl game-day snacks among Boise gridiron fans (47%) for the second year in a row. This was followed by chips or other salty snacks (16%), chicken wings (12%) and pizza (11%).

* Boston -- The home field advantage. Super Bowl party hosts in Boston are the most likely out of all markets surveyed to do all of their food and snack shopping at local supermarkets and then prepare it and serve it at home.

* Chicago -- On a wing and a prayer. Chicken wings and dips and spreads for use with chips, crackers or veggies topped the list of favorite game-day snacks among Chicago-area football fans, followed closely by pizza and chips or other salty snacks.

* Las Vegas -- Seafood, eat food. Not surprisingly, in Las Vegas, when asked what was the most unusual food fans consumed during Super Bowl parties, they responded seafood and, in particular, sushi (highest in the survey).

* Minneapolis/St. Paul -- Guilty as snacked. While most survey respondents give themselves a pass and feel no guilt about what they have eaten when it comes to Super Bowl snacks, more than 13% (highest in the survey) of Twin Cities fans say they always or often feel guilty about what they ate during the Super Bowl.

* Norfolk, Va. -- Teamless but not snack-less. With no NFL team to speak of, Norfolk had the highest percentage of respondents indicating that they were casual fans of football. However, when it comes to food during the Super Bowl, chicken wings are the favorite snack by a long shot when compared to the rest of the markets except St. Louis.

* Orange County/Los Angeles -- Snacking their way to good health. Some 10% of Los Angeles football fans will have healthy snacks and foods at their Super Bowl parties, even though pizza edges out dips and spreads. Not surprisingly, they also had one of the highest responses that they do not feel guilty about what they have eaten. They are also more likely than other markets in the survey to use a restaurant or caterer for food.

* Philadelphia -- Super Bowl as a national holiday. While not an official holiday yet, the Super Bowl is the third-ranked occasion or holiday where the most calories are consumed behind Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. About 60% of Philadelphia men feel no guilt about what they eat during the Super Bowl. About 54% of Philadelphia women say they do feel guilty about eating nutritionally challenged foods during the Super Bowl.

* St. Louis -- Chicken wings No. 1 in pecking order. St. Louis football fans have one of the highest percentages across all markets surveyed indicating that chicken wings are their favorite game-day snack. And while they love other meats (sausage, kielbasa) -- to the tune of 76% -- St. Louis fans also enjoy seafood (13%) at the party. St. Louis fans are the highest consumers of desserts (cake, cookies, candy, etc.) during the Super Bowl than anyone else in the survey.

* San Diego -- The spread formation. Football fans in San Diego enjoy dips and spreads for use with chips, crackers or veggies, but pizza and chicken wings are their favorite game-day snacks, followed by chips or other salty snacks, such as peanuts, popcorn or pretzels. About 15% serve seafood at their parties including sushi, shrimp and calamari.

From the February 7, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition