If you want to pack your bar and dining room with cheering fans on Big Game Sunday, having a snack-friendly, shareable menu is as essential as cold beer and big-screen TVs.

Big Game snackers demand variety in flavors, portions and pricing. Offering them lots of finger foods and handheld items allows them to keep their eyes on the action without fussing with a knife and fork. Bold, craveable flavors work best, because with all the excitement, it’s not a day to appreciate delicate cuisine. 

Research shows how popular snacks are on the day of the Big Game. Fans will consume 1.23 billion chicken wings, equal to more than 100 million pounds, predicts the National Chicken Council. The giant crunching sound you will hear is the munching of 11.2 million pounds of potato chips and 4.3 million pounds of pretzels, reports the Calorie Control Council and Snack Food Association.

Dips are favorites for snacking, with 32 percent of consumers saying they plan to eat spinach dip for veggies, cheese dip for chips or some other form of dipable delight, according to the Supervalu Snack Down Survey by Harris Interactive. The signature dip on many a chip will be guacamole, with more than 8 million pounds of avocados mashed up for the tangy specialty, says the California Avocado Commission. Also in tremendous demand is the all-American hot dog. Raymond James Stadium in Tampa reports that it served more than 55,000 hot dogs to spectators when it hosted the Big Game in 2009. Just imagine how astronomical the nationwide consumption figures were.

Tailoring your menu to snackers can pay dividends every day, not just on game day, because snacking is a growing trend that is reshaping the way Americans eat and socialize.

In fact, the “snacking lifestyle” is going mainstream, declares the research firm Technomic in its 10 Trends for 2014 predictions. Patrons are moving from “meat-and-potatoes meals” to everything from fast-food dollar menus and snack-sized handheld items and to pairings, trios and flights in full-service eateries. Technomic notes that consumers are less likely to eat three full meals on a regular schedule and more likely to “nosh, skip meals, eat breakfast for dinner and vice versa.” 

Whatever you serve on Big Game Sunday, make sure that your condiments and sauces are top caliber. Quality-minded operators feature Heinz® Ketchup and Heinz® Yellow Mustard on the tabletop.  During January and February, Heinz is offering a consumer sweepstakes to your guests where they can enter to win up to $400,000 in prizes. Having specially-marked labels on the table will help your guests enter to win!  If one of your guests is the grand prize winner, your restaurant wins $10,000 in Heinz credit.

The company that brings you America’s Favorite Ketchup® also has a line of flavorful back-of-the-house sauces that can be used as-is or combined with your own touches to create signature dips and sauces. The all-star lineup includes Heinz® Buffalo Wing Sauce, Heinz® Sweet and Spicy Garlic Chili Sauce and Heinz® Classic Barbecue Sauce.

The following stuffed mushroom recipe is sure to be a hit with football fans. The spicy mélange of hot Italian sausage, Heinz® Ketchup and parmesan cheese is also great for stuffing into other veggies, such as mild and hot banana peppers and tomatoes.  

Spicy Stuffed Mushrooms
Servings: 8

Ingredients

16 large button mushrooms

1 tsp. vegetable oil

8 oz. ground hot Italian sausage

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Heinz® Tomato Ketchup

 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Remove stems from mushrooms. Finely chop enough stems to make 1/2 cup. Reserve.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Cook ground sausage until browned; drain off fat. To sausage, add chopped mushrooms, onion and rosemary. Cook, stirring constantly 3–5 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cheese. Blend well the ketchup and parsley.
  5. Spoon mixture evenly into mushroom caps and arrange in a baking dish. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and tops are golden.

Heinz Foodservice offers Heinz® Ketchup and other condiments in efficient dispensing formats suitable for a variety of operator needs. For more information, visit www.HeinzFoodservice.com or call 1-855-57-HEINZ.