Company Updates

How the pandemic is changing game-day snack spreads



Sep 15, 2020

The football season is back, but game-day snack spreads look a lot different. Although the season kicked off a bit differently this past weekend, there’s no doubt fans were just as excited to fill out their fantasy drafts and cheer on their favorite teams from home. Similar to previous years, insights from Instacart show that people from all around the country geared up for the football kickoff by stocking up on game-day essentials like snacks and beer, but we also noticed some new trends and purchase habits — possibly related to increased social distancing and solo game-day watch parties.

Here’s how the pandemic has changed game-day snack spreads so far…

Fans aren’t buying as many snacks as before. Instacart insights show that purchases for snacks were down more than 23% in the weeks leading up to kickoff this year compared to the same period in 2019. If you’re not hosting a watch party, there’s less of a reason to deck out your coffee table with every snack imaginable.

Beer and football go hand-in-hand. Although game-day snack sales might be down this year, year over year purchases for beer remain steady. If you didn’t crack a beer during the game, did you even watch it?

Beer is making up a larger % of online orders. This year, we noticed that beer has been making up a larger percentage of people’s online orders (+128%) compared to 2019. Beer > everything else.

Fans are drinking lighter beers on game day. In the week leading up to the football kickoff, searches for lighter beers prevailed, with fans opting for more drinkable, low ABV beverages to carry them through their solo watch party. Here are the top 5 fastest-growing beers searched ahead of game-day:

  1. Miller Light: +300% YoY
  2. Modelo Especial: +100% YoY
  3. Busch Light: +63% YoY
  4. Busch: +40% YoY
  5. Blue Moon: +32% YoY

Cheesy comfort foods are surging. For those still indulging in the classic game-day bites, we’ve noticed a surging increase in cheese-related snacks. In fact, three out of the top five fastest-growing snacks searched ahead of game-day included a cheesy element:

  1. Queso Dip: +48% YoY
  2. Cheese Curds: +32% YoY
  3. Potato Chips: +22% YoY
  4. Nacho Cheese: +4% YoY
  5. Ribs: +2% YoY

“While the highly-anticipated football season kickoff brought a sense of normalcy to many this past weekend, the game-day food and drink trends we’re seeing this year are very different from years past,” said Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart’s Senior Product Manager and Trends Expert. “With social distancing and solo watch parties becoming the norm this year, we can expect to see fewer people laying out classic game-day snack spreads with things like chicken wings, chips, dips, and sliders. Instead, we can expect to see more sports fans turning to their favorite light beers to accompany their solo viewing parties.”

To find out how fans were celebrating at home across the country, we also looked at recent search trends and uncovered the most popular beer and snack pairings:

Chicago: Chicago Bears fans paired Miller Lite (+433%) with Velveeta cheese (+1,600%) and tortilla chips (+979%) for their game-winning snack.

Dallas: Cowboys enthusiasts raised a bottle of Corona beer (+250%) and munched on tortilla chips (+225%) while watching a close, nail-biter game on Sunday.

Houston: Fans of the Houston Texans drank cold Budweisers (+438%) and dipped their tortilla chips (+332%) in queso dip (+75%) during the first Thursday night football game of the year.

Miami: Dolphins supporters ate and drank enough cheese curds (+367%) and Dos Equis beer (192%) to soften the blow against the Patriots wrath in their season opener. With cheese curds normally popping in Wisconsin, we’re curious to know if this squeaky cheese has become a mainstream snack. Poutine anyone?

New York: New York Jets and Giants fans toasted the beginning of football season with a Budweiser (+567%) in one hand and a Buffalo chicken wing (+134%) in the other. Talk about an All-American winning combo.

San Francisco: Those loyal to the 49ers gobbled down on carb-conscious Michelob Ultra (+325%) and tortilla chips (+1,766%) as they watched their home team play a close game this Sunday.

Happy football season y’all!



Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America, partnering with more than 700 beloved national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from more than 65,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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