If you read about the super bowl in the U-T San Diego yesterday you might have come across the claim that Americans will drink more than 300 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. While it’s certainly true that a lot of beer is consumed, do we really collectively drink 300 million gallons? Probably not.
A friend sent me this story by Karla Peterson and we both agreed that the number sounded far too high. After a few minutes of searching I ended up at this post by Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin where he analyzed the claim that 325.5 million gallons of beer are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. The verdict: ” It doesn’t seem physically possible that Americans could consume that much, even if they were so inclined.” As Brooks points out, the US Census estimates there to be just shy of 313 million people in the US. If Peterson’s “more than 300 million gallons” claim were true, that would mean that every man, woman and child would have to drink a bit more than ten 12 oz beers, and while some people probably did drink ten beers yesterday, plenty didn’t.
Brooks goes on to take a closer look at the number, figuring that if you subtract out the kids, every adult would have to drink an estimated 15 12 oz beers to get up to that 325.5 million gallon mark (or more than 13.5 12 oz beers for our more than 300 million gallon claim).
So where did this number come from? It’s hard to say, Peterson throws out another figure, that Americans will eat an estimated 1.25 billion chicken wings on game day, a number which she attributes to the National Chicken Council, but she doesn’t provide a source for her beer claim, and as far as I can tell the NCC doesn’t make any claims about the amount of beer consumed.
Brooks traced the references for his 325.5 million number back to an alcohol “Industry Watchdog” group Alcohol Justice (formerly the Marin Institute). There’s the number, 325.5 million, in their 2010 Free The Bowl Fact Sheet [pdf link] with no reference to the source or any explanation of how it was calculated.
So while I won’t dispute that we drink a lot of beer on Super Bowl Sunday, the amount probably isn’t anywhere near the 300 million gallon mark.
I highly recommend Brooks’s post, it has more info and a bit more background on Alcohol Justice.
Photo: CC/flickr user all taken