Ready, start, dough!
Super Bowl Sunday is coming and pie-makers across the country are bracing for a pizza reaction.
Turns out this 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 the trade magazine Pizza Today.
All of which require some serious flour power. At the Papa John's chain, officials expect to sell a million pizzas when the Steelers meet the Packers on Feb. 6, making it their biggest day of the year.
In preparation, the 3,200-restaurant chain will be shipping over 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, says Tony Thompson, president of Papa John's Food Service.
Perhaps that's why the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie.
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, on Super Bowl Sunday old-school favorites like pepperoni and sausage tend to rule the day.
At the Domino's Pizza chain, officials expect to deliver over 9 million slices of pizza on Super Bowl Sunday.
For sit-down pizza restaurants, Super Bowl isn't so super, since diners are likely to be glued to their seats for three hours or more, says Tony Gemignani, who owns both take-out and eat-in pizza parlors in Northern California, including the well-known Tony's Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco's North Beach district and the new Pizza Rocks in Sacramento.
On the other hand, to-go and delivery pizza orders are much higher than normal.
Usually, the Super Bowl rush begins in the mid-afternoon and lasts through halftime. Wings also are a big item for football viewing parties, and he'll be running specials at some locations to keep snackers satisfied.
"Between all four stores, we'll do over 2,000 pizzas at least," says Gemignani. "It's a lot of pizza. It's a lot of flour. It's a lot of cheese."
At Papa John's, preparations for Super Bowl Sunday sales began in December, with contingency supply plans in place and hourly plans laid out.
"That afternoon, they've really got to make sure that the normal execution is taken up three levels," says Thompson. That includes bringing on more drivers to make sure the last link in the chain, delivery, runs smoothly.
What are tips like on Super Bowl Sunday?
"Good," Gemignani says with a laugh, "unless their team is losing."