Super Bowl Food Price Madness!

I’ve been sitting on this post topic for a while, trying to find the words to adequately express my amazement and disgust with the prices stadium concessionaires charged Super Bowl 50 attendees for a few common (and some not so common) food items. I think I have a handle on it, now…

Super Bowl 50 Crab Meat Sandwich - © Centerplate CateringThe official Super Bowl 50 Crab Meat Sandwich. Would you pay (US)$20 for it?

Quizno's Lobster & Seafood Sub - © Quizno's Restaurants CanadaThe ‘official’ Quizno’s Lobster Sub, with Crab Meat and Lobster, selling at
under (C)$10 for the same size sandwich.
I think I like the
looks of the Quiznos’s offering better, at any price…

First, some perspective on restaurant pricing…

There is a standing rule that restaurateurs, caterers and deli proprietors follow to determine the menu/retail prices for their wares. It’s pretty simple. Your food cost must not exceed 1/3 of your menu price. Otherwise, you’ll lose money and eventually go out of business. Maybe sooner,rather than later. You see, most folks who dine out don’t realize that the cost their meal includes much more than the cost of the food. There’s staff wages and benefits, insurance, rent (or mortgage) payments, utility bills, licenses and permits, allowance for equipment maintenance, cleaning services, uniform services, and non food supplies (disposable paper goods, breakage allowance for china and glassware, and ‘shrinkage’ allowance – a nice way of saying, costs related to pilferage).

But wait…

What about the owner’s profit? The folks who run some of the ritziest eateries may satisfy themselves with a margin of as little as 5 per cent. Yup. Just 5 per cent. That’s one of the reasons they say you really gotta love the restaurant business to commit your career – and life – to it!

But what does that have to do with Super Bowl menus?

One look at prices at a typical Super Bowl 50 concession stand tells a harrowing tale… It’s a booze booth. Just booze and with a limited selection, at that:

  • Wine by the Glass: $25
  • Beer by the Can: $13
  • Bottled Water: $7

No, I’m not kidding. And the food?

  • Cheeseburger: $15
  • Garlic Fries: $10
  • Regular (plain) Fries: $8
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich: $18
  • Chicken Tenders: $13
  • Hot Dog: $8
  • Jumbo Hot Dog: $11
  • Crab Meat Sandwich: $20
  • Lobster Mac & Cheese: $20
  • Pot Roast Sandwich: $18
  • “Souvenir” Popcorn: $15
  • Coffee: $5
  • Hot Chocolate: $5
  • Cheese (just crust, sauce and cheese) Pizza: $10
  • Candy: $5
  • Peanuts: $7

So… As I said, some items you might think unusual on a stadium menu were rolled out for Super Bowl 50. They might justify an inflated price. But $20 bucks for a Crab Meat Sandwich eerily similar to one you can get any day of the week at Quizno’s for less than half that price is pretty hard to swallow.

Why so high?

First, I assume that the Stadium and the league (owners of the ‘Super Bowl’ brand) held the concessionaires up for ransom for the rental of their booths and stands for the big game. That’s par for this course. And it would certainly account for some of the egregious inflation in the menu prices. But, with a captive audience for the big game and hordes of big, burly bouncers ensuring that nobody got in through the gates with any outside food, I’m just as sure that the concessionaires tacked on a hefty surcharge of their own. Because they could. And the profit, in the end was much, much higher than the industry’s usual 5 to 7 per cent.

How do they get away with it?

Well… The fans are a captive audience in all senses of the word. But, if they can afford tickets to the game, some going for around (US)$5,000 apiece, then the food providers might rationalize that fans should not be too outraged by ridiculous food prices.

I wonder, though, how many Super Bowl 50 attendees were as shocked and disappointed as I was by the menu prices at the stadium concessions? As many as were shocked and disappointed by what many sports writers are calling the most boring, pathetic Super Bowl in memory?

NFL types and greedy concessionaires take note…

~ Maggie J.