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Area grocers say they score big on Super Bowl Sunday

February 05, 2006|By CANDICE BOSELY

TRI-STATE -

A couple of Seattle Seahawks balloons were scattered around Martin's Food Market on Wesel Boulevard recently, but that didn't mean that was where the loyalties were.

"Go Steelers!" was handwritten in icing on cakes for sale, while other cakes bore the Steelers' logo. Some were emblazoned with the more neutral Super Bowl XL logo.

Calling it a "miniholiday," area grocers said the game today, which pits the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Seahawks, is a boost for business.

"(The) Super Bowl is definitely a miniholiday for us," said Tricia Maciejewski, vice president of operations at The Butcher Shoppe on Stouffer Avenue in Chambersburg, Pa.

Meat and cheese trays, buffalo wings, ribs, shrimp, and vegetable and fruit trays are among popular items, as well as potato and macaroni salads, she said.

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The Butcher Shoppe also carries Big Ben's BBQ, a sauce named for Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"We're selling a lot of that," Maciejewski said.

A party atmosphere associated with the Super Bowl gives people a reason to splurge on food for the day, Maciejewski said.

"Whenever you have a big group of people, you're going to have a lot of food," she said.

Having the Steelers in the Super Bowl has increased business at The Butcher Shoppe, which carries more than meats.

"Pennsylvania is Steelers country," Maciejewski said. "It's definitely better than if there are two faraway teams. It's definitely good for business if the Steelers, Redskins or Eagles are playing."

Denny Hopkins, vice president of advertising and public relations for Martin's Food Market, agreed that party trays, cheese platters and sandwich trays are among the more popular items for Super Bowl parties.

He also said sales increase for snacks, soda, paper plates and disposable cups. In West Virginia, where beer is sold in grocery stores, sales of it increases in the days leading up to the game.

"Way back when, (the Super Bowl) was not the event it is today," he said from his office in Carlisle, Pa. "It's almost a holiday (now)."

Dennis Engle, store manager of Food Lion in Old Courthouse Square in Martinsburg, W.Va., said higher-than-normal amounts of snacks and platter items were ordered.

Extra displays of beer, soda and chips were set up around the store, he said.

"It's a whole-day event," Engle said of the Super Bowl, and a chance for couples and families to get together.

"Now just as many females are into football as males," Engle said.

Jeff Lowrance, a Food Lion spokesman, sent out a press release about food sales associated with the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl sales period compares favorably with holidays long associated with big meals. Customer demand for deli party trays during the Super Bowl doubles that of regular sales weeks, and Super Bowl week at Food Lion trails only Christmas and New Year's in party tray sales, Lowrance said.

Super Bowl week is Food Lion's third-highest salty snack sales period, with July Fourth ranked first and Labor Day second. When compared to a normal week, chip and dip sales increase 18 percent to 20 percent during the Super Bowl, cookie sales increase about 20 percent, peanuts jump 15 percent to 20 percent, and crackers and popcorn sales go up 10 percent, Lowrance said.

So who do area grocery store officials believe will win the game?

"I've got to say Seattle, only because I'm a die-hard Redskins fan," said Engle, a Redskins season ticket holder whose Ford Expedition is detailed with Redskins graphics.

He said he will support the Seahawks because they defeated the Redskins.

Although his loyalties might be elsewhere, Hopkins said he predicts the Steelers will win.

"They've got the hottest team," said Hopkins, who said he believes the Steelers defense will be able to shut down Shaun Alexander, Seattle's MVP running back, and force Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to pass.

As for Maciejewski, she ended a conversation with "Go Steelers!"

"I'm a Steelers fan through and through," she said.

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