Business

Pizza chains among the big winners on Super Bowl Sunday

Papa John's the official pizza  sponsor of the NFL and the Super Bowl, expects to sell a million pies before and during  Sunday's game.
Papa John's the official pizza sponsor of the NFL and the Super Bowl, expects to sell a million pies before and during Sunday's game. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Super Bowl Sunday is coming, and pizza makers across the country are bracing. The day is one of the five big pizza days of the year.

The other four? Halloween, the day before Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, says Jeremy White, editor-in-chief of trade magazine Pizza Today.

All those days require some serious flour power. At Louisville-based Papa John's, officials expect to sell a million pizzas when the Steelers meet the Packers, making it their biggest day of the year.

Preparations for Super Bowl Sunday sales began in December, with contingency supply plans in place and hourly plans laid out. The Super Bowl rush typically begins in mid-afternoon and lasts through halftime.

"That afternoon, they've really got to make sure that the normal execution is taken up three levels," says Tony Thompson, president of Papa John's Food Service. That includes bringing on more drivers to make sure the last link in the chain, delivery, runs smoothly.

The 3,200-restaurant chain will be shipping more than 2 million pounds of cheese through its 10 distribution centers along with 350,000 pounds of pepperoni.

Adding a logistical assist is Manhattan Associates, which makes the software Papa John's uses to coordinate shipping. The deliveries will involve 300,000 miles of travel, or 1.3 round trips to the moon, Thompson said.

So why does pizza get such a big slice of the Super Bowl snack-verse?

"Pizza is a party food. It's a communal food. It's meant to be shared. It's inexpensive and everyone likes it," says White.

On average, pizzerias will see a boost of about 35 percent when the NFC and AFC battle it out, says White. And while recent years have seen a shift toward trendier toppings like sun-dried tomatoes and avocados, Super Bowl Sunday sees old-school favorites like pepperoni and sausage rule the day. What are tips like on Super Bowl Sunday?

"Good," says Tony Gemignani, who owns pizza parlors in Northern California, "unless their team is losing."

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