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What makes the Super Bowl so super

The Super Bowl has become so much a part of American culture that some would argue it has more fans than mom and apple pie (sorry, mom!). Part sporting contest, part reality TV, part perfect example of commercialism gone to extremes, one thing is for sure: The Super Bowl is an event filled with SUPER-latives.

Here’s what some research turned up: Of the top five television shows ever watched in U.S. history, four are Super Bowl broadcasts. Last year’s matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers was watched by an estimated 111 million viewers. And just what are these folks viewing? Turns out it’s more than just a football game. Estimates suggest that almost half of the people who watch do so only to see the commercials. That means a large amount of folks who wouldn’t know a blintze from a blitz are tuning in. It’s been reported that 60 percent of viewers say they pay more attention to the commercials than the game. Turns out those things we try to avoid all year by grabbing a snack or flipping channels during the rest of our television-viewing year are somehow as much of the Super Bowl experience as the on-field matchup. There are even apps and websites dedicated to Super Bowl advertisements.

The cost of a Super Bowl ad this year is $4 million for a 30-second spot. Sound extreme? Marketers are convinced there’s gold in those Super Bowl hills. At no other time can their message be guaranteed to reach such a captive audience, especially in our tech-happy, channel-surfing world.

Entertainment? Skip the high school marching bands and drill teams. From Michael Jackson to Mick Jagger, halftime at the big game brings out a who’s who among the music industry’s biggest headliners, along with a memorable wardrobe malfunction or two along the way.

Let’s face it, for most, it’s just not the Super Bowl without a party. For Western New Yorkers, what’s a party without wings? Our beloved chicken wings have become prime contenders for favorite Super Bowl snack, with 1.25 BILLION of them being consumed each year. Super Bowl Sunday is also the big Kahuna in terms of beer sales, with 50 million cases flying off the shelves for last year’s event. Snack food consumption holds its own, with 11.2 million pounds of potato chips and 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips leading the salt-laden list. Though it would be easy to blow one’s daily calorie allotment before halftime given the aforementioned list, the surprising top consumed snack for Super Bowl? Vegetables. Avocados (technically a fruit) lead the pack; 79 million of them were sold for the big game in 2013. Holy moley, Batman, that’s a lot of guacamole!

Prefer to watch the game in person? Be prepared to empty your piggy bank, clean out your wallet and perhaps prematurely tap into some of your college fund to do so. A seat in a prime midfield location will set you back $25,572 as of this writing. “Cheap” seats in the upper end zones are fetching $1,500 or more. Want to bring all your buds? Rent a suite for $770,000. Leave the car at home and take the bus unless you feel like shelling out $261 for parking. For those who can’t afford to attend the game, attending “Media Day,” where just having the privilege of watching the press interview players sets visitors back more than $30. Just to sit. And watch. People talk. Given these figures, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn there’s big money to be made for the host city, too. East Rutherford, N.J., is expected to make $600 million in Super Bowl revenue by hosting this year’s event.

Yes, the Super Bowl is super-sized in every aspect. Of course, like anything else, there’s a Buffalo connection. Guess which team holds the record for going to the game the most consecutive years? The Buffalo Bills, with four back-to-back appearances. Maybe next time the Bills get there, they’ll win. Now THAT truly would be super.

Wesley Watson is a junior at Lancaster High School.