Some of the central figures of Super Bowl Sunday had the speed of Terrell Owens and the sure-shot delivery of Tom Brady, but they weren’t on the field. They weren’t cheering in the stands or in front of their TV sets. And they certainly weren’t in Jacksonville.
Still, they managed to deliver some of the most sizzling, memorable moments of the day. They delivered the pizzas — lots of pizzas.
Only Thanksgiving surpasses Super Bowl Sunday in the amount of food Americans consume, and pizza is the day’s No. 1 delicacy.
According to the National Retail Federation, a retail industry organization, 68 percent of Super Bowl partiers scarf pizza as they watch the game.
Domino’s Pizza expected to sell 1.2 million pizzas nationally on Super Bowl Sunday, 42 percent more than on a regular Sunday. That many pizza boxes would cover all 32 NFL fields and an additional three football fields.
Local delivery services anticipated the Super Bowl hankering for pizza by adding workers to their shifts, ordering extra cases of ingredients and pre-folding scores of boxes.
Speed was the goal at Domino’s Pizza on Ninth Street. Thirty minutes before kickoff, the store buzzed as workers scrambled to fill dozens of orders. Driver Brian Carollo dodged fellow workers as he hustled around the kitchen, trying to complete an order of 20 pizzas. Other drivers left their cars running to shave seconds off the wait, which hovered around an hour. By halftime, the wait rose to an hour and 15 minutes.
The Domino’s on Green Meadows Way ordered 100 trays of dough for Sunday, double its usual 50. Twelve drivers ferried pizzas to hungry football fans all night, and the store juggled about 100 orders per hour, which is what manager David Harbour expected.
Harbour says Super Bowl Sunday is the busiest day of the year for the store, followed by New Year’s Eve.
Business was steady all day at Papa John’s on Forum Boulevard, but orders began flooding in around 4 p.m. Workers had to wipe the “dustinator,” a floury mixture used to coat the pizza dough, off their hands before tending to the incessant ringing of the phones with salivating customers on the other end.
John McAlister, a driver at Papa John’s, zipped out the door with a stack of pizzas he pulled from the oven a minute before.
“Driver out,” he called out as he walked out the door.
“Have fun, drive safe,” replied Lindsey Tate as she whipped pizza dough around her fist.
Although Super Bowl Sunday is the craziest day of the year for many pizza places, Papa John’s on Broadway has a busier time catering MU events, said manager Matt Phillips. The load for Sunday, however, was unexpectedly low.
“It’s been kind of a disappointment,” Phillips said. “We expected to get hit around 2 p.m., and it never kicked in.”
Before Sunday, Phillips expected to fill 500 to 700 orders with the help of six in-store employees, 12 drivers and 600 pre-folded boxes, which looked like a child’s tower of blocks stretching floor to ceiling.
By halftime on Sunday, the actual count stood between 350 and 450.
Phillips did not know why business was slow, especially given the rainy weather, which usually results in more deliveries, he said.
John Crum, owner of Wise Guy’s Pizza on Sixth Street, estimated his store was 30 percent to 40 percent busier on Super Bowl Day than on a regular Sunday. To accommodate the influx of orders, Crum said Wise Guy’s ordered extra cases of every topping and six extra cases of cheese.
Imo’s Pizza on Paris Road . expected to fill between 140 and 160 orders, double their usual Sunday load. Sales, however, did not meet expectations, and by halftime the store filled 56 orders, a tad slower than the normal Sunday pace.
Stores offering take-and-bake pizzas, such as Hy-Vee, faced the Super Bowl stampede as well.
“I don’t know how regular pizza places keep up,” said Anne Kendall, manager of the Italian Express Department. “We’re able to constantly keep making pizzas.”
Kendall anticipated a rush between noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday, and by 2:30 p.m., her crew made about 80 pizzas. By kickoff, that number climbed to about 110. Sunday was Kendall’s fourth Super Bowl Sunday working in Italian Express, and the first when she did not have trouble scheduling workers. Aside from the Super Bowl, a sale kept business steady all weekend.
But no matter where your Super Bowl pizza came from, it takes doing “The Wave” 591 times to work off the calories in each slice.