When I first did the math concerning Super Bowl history I was confused. I learned that the first championship game between the NFL and the AFL was played in 1967. It wasn’t officially called the Super Bowl until 1970 when the NFL and AFL merged to form the modern NFL, but those first three games, including the famous upset victory by the Jets (with quarterback Joe Namath) in 1969, are included in the count, making this year’s game the 42nd Super Bowl event.
All sports bring with them a certain amount of industry, but nothing quite compares with the big business created by the super game. With its huge television audience both in the U.S. and around the world, where else is there this kind of exposure and demand for prime marketing time that makes the commercial production around the Super Bowl take on a life of its own.
I like the sound of a football game in the house, but I’ll have to say that’s about as far as my connection with football goes. Like most TV viewing, football makes us want to eat while we watch (or watch others watch, in my case). With much advertising devoted to food, we’re glued to the tube, snack bowls in hand, letting them tell us we want their product … and want it now.
Super Bowl Sunday offers the ultimate excuse for a grand snacks-’n-more buffet. A bit of food history walks hand in hand with football. Gary Allen’s article titled In the Chips: Dipping into the History of the Super Bowl Favorite notes the inevitable rise of today’s chips and dip. Mass marketing and mass production have always held the key.
In the early ’50s, both the Frito-Lay company and the Lipton company (with its instant soups) were looking for new marketing trends. Says Allen, “The combination of the cool and tangy dip with crisp and salty chips was too perfect to be ignored.”
Allen cites a progression: “American homes had long had … a ‘parlor.’ People would not think of eating in the parlor – they ate at a table, in their kitchen or dining room, with plates, utensils, and table linens. They faced each other and even spoke to each other.
“With the advent of television, the staid parlor was forever transformed into something else: a living room. Americans loved watching their (newly televised) sports in their living room – the place where, more and more, they actually lived. However, they soon discovered that while sitting on a couch for hours on end was hungry work, it was – strangely enough – not ideally suited for a sit-down meal.
“Utensils were yet another undesirable distraction from ‘the tube.’ What were needed were more – and more convenient — finger foods. Chips, which served as both food and eating utensils for the new dips, almost perfectly met the needs of an emergent couch-potato class.”
I’ll probably move to the head of that class, viewing with bowls of dip and chips and most likely some other goodies to go with them.