Super Bowl Myths

Every year it happens: Superbowl Sunday approaches and super-sized things are said about the whopping impact on America wrought by the football spectacular. Like, the water systems of major cities are in peril of collapsing due to a thunderous amount of simultaneous toilet flushing at halftime. Or that two-thirds of all avocados are sold within days of the Super Bowl as Americans prepare their guacamole for watching parties. Or that Disneyland is nearly depopulated on Super Bowl Sunday. All interesting and culturally relevant stuff — interesting and relevant enough to launch many a feature story during the days of hype that precede the game. But there is a problem, that none of these are true.

Water, Water Everywhere
Water works readily confirm that Super Bowl Sunday brings large-scale water usage at approximately the same time. But , it isn’t as if Super Bowl Sunday is the only time water usage increases. For mass flushing, the champ in most cities remains the final episodes of MASH and Seinfeld. It is true that a water main broke in Salt Lake City in 1984 on Super Bowl Sunday. Alas, Leroy Hooton, director of public utilities for Salt Lake City, says no link between the Super Bowl flushing and the 16-inch-main break was ever established. Water-line breaks, he notes, aren’t uncommon in Salt Lake City. Still, a local television station broadcast a teaser for its 11 p.m. news that night about the water break, and the tale has been part of the journalistic fabric of Super Bowl lore ever since.

It’s Not the Pits 
No doubt about it, we have become a guacamole-loving nation. Super Bowl Sunday has a strong association with food, particularly snack foods such as chips that cry out for something yummy to dip them in. Super Bowl Sunday is also Super Guacamole Sunday, and so we naturally assume it must also be the time of year when sales of avocados, the primary ingredient in guacamole, skyrocket. Sales of avocados do shoot up around the time of the Super Bowl, but not to the levels claimed. Super Bowl Sunday accounts for about 5% of annual avocados sales, not the much larger figures often claimed (up to 67%), according to the California Avocado Commission. That 5% — about 8 million pounds of avocados — is a lot of avocados, but it still pales in comparison to the 14 million pounds sold annually during Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Steady Traffic On Main Street, USA 
No red-blooded American would miss the Super Bowl just to spend the day at an amusement park, right? Okay, maybe a few people who don’t care about football might pass on watching the game, but these people won’t visit places like Disneyland without their friends or children in tow, and most of them are watching the game. Must be a great day for the people who are so desperate to experience a rare uncrowded weekend afternoon at Disneyland that they’ll risk ridicule and skip the big game in favor of the Magic Kingdom, eh? Although January does tend to be one of the slower periods of the year at Disneyland. Crowds at Disneyland on Super Bowl Sunday are comparable to any other Sunday in January.