American Rituals in Overeating: a case study in Super Bowl snacks

A quick google search for “Super Bowl recipes” offers a fascinating example of ritualized American eating behaviors during sporting events. Nachos, chili, burgers, dips, wings — the list goes on and on. Why are these blatantly unhealthy types of  foods connected to this specialized cultural event?


For some reason or other, these foods are steeped into the tradition of watching and enjoying sporting events. The Super Bowl is a cultural event in which people gather, eat (a lot), drink (a lot), and be merry. The food consumption and ritualized eating that takes place for many peoples’ Super Bowl experience is a prime example of Margaret Mead’s (1971) discussion of overeating. During Super Bowl festivities, or other sporting events viewings, many Americans find themselves in situations where one struggles with the conflict between feasting/overeating and fasting in “order to be good” (2012: 21). We all feel the guilt of overeating after the Super Bowl, but we continue to serve the same multitude of unhealthy dishes year after year. Why? Because it’s tradition!