When it comes to the Super Bowl, food is front and center regardless of the football teams playing! This year, the cost of the party food is getting added attention across the field from ag economists to consumers with the snack category trending 6% higher than a year ago. This is a 5% increase over the typical increase of food prices according to a recent AgWeb.com article.1 Foods requiring more packaging and overall supply chain logistics reflect the higher prices according to data compiled by Wells Fargo economists. So how do we entertain and keep the “point spread” on food cost in line this year?
As a long-time Bengals fan and Cincinnati-area native, I suggest changing the game plan! Go for new options this year that will tantalize taste buds, save a little money and highlight some Cincinnati favorites. Just like Joe Burrows (known as the “Brrr”) … you can put the chill(i) on the price of your Super Bowl party — celebrate “Queen City” style.
Start a New “Center” on the Party Table: Chili, Cheese and Pork
All proteins foods are higher priced this year but the perennial favorite, chicken wings, are top on the list! So my suggestion, substitute a new “player” this year … Cincinnati chili. If you’re a native or resident of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, you know Cincinnati chili. According to the What’s Cooking America, Cincinnati is the most chili crazed town outside of Texas with over 180 chili parlors.2 Regardless of whether you’re a Skyline Chili, Dixie Chili or Gold Star fan, or prefer one of the individual chili parlors, the recipe always starts with ground beef and is prepared thinner than Texas style with an unique spice blend.
While the price of ground beef is up 12%, it still is not as high as chicken wings, which are reported to be 26% higher than previous years. And the good news? Cincy chili is served thinner usually over spaghetti, so a batch goes a long way! Add the fact that one of the “stars” of Cincinnati chili – cheddar cheese – is 7% lower in price than a year ago and you have a winning combination. According to the Well Fargo report, the price is lower as dairy producers have maintained a good milk supply. When it comes to Cincy chili, cheddar cheese is as essential as making a “third down.” Unless you eat two-way chili (chili and spaghetti), shredded cheddar cheese is piled high on the three, four and five-way versions.
If chili ladled over spaghetti with cheese (3-way), and onions (4-way) and beans (5 way) is not your forte, then the Coney Dog is always an option, and for Cincy, make it pork! Pork is one meat that is not showing a double digit increase and salutes the days Cincinnati was known as Porkopolis. By 1824, Cincinnati was a huge hog processing center, and it retained that status through most of the 20th century.
Keep the Line on the Basics
Chips, dips and vegetable trays are party basics that will not break the budget. Due to the plentiful supply of U.S. grown potatoes and the efficiency of chip manufacturers, potato chips average about a 1% increase, which is the same for guacamole dip. Price stability for guacamole dip is based on the increased production of avocados in Mexico and Peru – the source for most U.S. grocery stores. Due to the supply, growers in these countries can process the avocados into guacamole more economically. However, if you want to add salsa to your lineup, expect the cost to be up 6% from 2021. Supply logistics like packaging, labor and transportation are the contributors to this price increase, not the tomatoes. Vegetable trays can be more expensive if you buy prepackaged and prepared veggies. Instead, go for bulk veggie options and flex a little pre-game muscle by chopping and slicing your own.
The Sideline Thirst Quenchers
Water and Gatorade are essential game thirst quenchers for the teams but usually Super Bowl parties have more options. This year, the price of soft drinks has increased 14% due to supply chain issues and packaging. However, party favorites like beer – a Cincy favorite – and wine have only increased 4 and 3%, respectively, due to increased availability of craft beers and the global supply of wine.
Winning the Food Cost Game
Whether we’re preparing for a Super Bowl party or everyday meals, the increased price of food is a reality. To keep food costs in control, keep the game plan simple! Compare prices of protein foods and try new “stars,” go for less packaging of fresh items, buy bulk and stay focused on the best nutrition for your dollar!
The Inside Scoop on Bengal Fans’ Fare: Do real Bengal fans eat Cincinnati chili? When it comes to the big games, they sure do! One of my friends will serve Dixie Chili as the founders were long time family friends and it seems to be a winning tradition this year. Another Northern Kentucky friend will go all in on Cincinnati fare: Montgomery Inn ribs, Gold Star Coneys, Busken cookies and Graeter’s ice cream sundaes. According to CincyFavorites.com, there’s still time to order some of these local favorites but the Busken tiger stiped orange glazed cookies will have to wait until next year. The cupboard is bare.
1. “Food Inflation Makes Your Super Bowl Party Cost More,” by Margy Eckelkamp, AGWEB Farm Journal, January 25, 2022.
2. “Cincinnati Chili History and Recipe,” What’s Cooking America.