Potato Chips

The Snack Industry Won the Super Bowl

Forget the Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor Swift. Well before the game ever started, it was very clear who would win the Super Bowl – the snack industry. The snacking industrial complex has been locked into hyperdrive for weeks, if not months, in preparation for last night’s event. The enticements were everywhere. The clickbait was rhapsodic:

“90 Super Bowl Snacks Worthy of a Touchdown Dance”

“101 Super Bowl Snacks That Will Carry You to Victory”

“Super Bowl Snacks You Can Eat with One Hand”

“45 Best Healthy Super Bowl Snacks”

We note that the “healthy” list was a little slim by comparison.

Profound Understatement

It is not often that Professor Marion Nestle understates the overwhelming influence of the food industry. But reflecting on the Super Bowl of snacking, she succeeds. She describes this as “an occasion for junk food and alcohol.” A gentle statement of truth. To CNN, she speaks broadly about the food environment the industry cultivates and its influence on people susceptible to weight gain:

“Individuals who are trying to control their weight in today’s food environment are fighting an entire food system on their own. That’s hard to do.”

Regarding the Super Bowl snacking onslaught, this is a profound understatement. People are up against staggering commercial, social, and cultural forces. A line from the Borg is more apt: “resistance is futile.”

Change Ahead?

So clearly, the snack industry won the Super Bowl, just as it has for more than half a century. But it may be on the precipice of change.

PepsiCo reports that people are snacking less. Their Frito-Lay division (think Doritos) had a three percent sales decline in the fourth quarter of last year. While we are skeptical about speculation that GLP-1 medicines will, all by themselves, bring down the snacking industrial complex, the possibility of a broad shift in consumer behavior based on many factors is credible.

Maybe we don’t need a snack at our fingertips for every minute of every day.

For perspective on how the future of snack food marketing might change, click here.

Potato Chips, photorealistic image by Netha Hussain / Wikimedia Commons

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


February 12, 2024