Why Avocados and the Super Bowl Go Hand in Hand

By Wesley Fenlon

The Mexican avocado industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade, largely thanks to strong winter imports to the United States.

Avocado's never been bigger. No, the avocado fruit isn't evolving and hulking out into a beefier green snack; the avocado industry itself is booming. And it's not because millions of people have stumbled upon the deliciousness of guacamole by accident or word of mouth. Football--specifically, the Super Bowl--and some brilliant advertising have transformed the avocado industry from regional treat to national snack fruit.

Photo Credit: Flickr user jaredfrazer via Creative Commons

As Smithsonian Mag reveals, avocado was mostly eaten in Mexico, California and Texas until the 1990s. That's where the fruit is grown, so it makes perfect sense. Then two things happened. The North American Free Trade Agreement began in 1994, allowing avocados grown in Mexico and South America to pour into the US, and the avocado industry began advertising guacamole as the Super Bowl party food.

California doesn't grow avocado year-round. In the winter, there's a local avocado shortage. But that's not a problem for Mexico and Chile, who happily started shipping truckloads of avocados up north in time for the big game. This year, 79 million pounds of avocado are expected to be eaten at Super Bowl events. In 2000, before the marketing had really done its work, we ate a mere eight million pounds of avocado at February football parties.

Mexico has been the largest supplier of avocado in the United States since 2008, which is great for Mexico. The industry has successfully marketed the food as a late-winter staple, which doesn't help California farmers but has helped overall avocado sales increase year after year. Smithsonian Mag delves into how representative this is of a lot of the food we eat in the United States--we rarely know where it's come from, or how it's made. And marketing leads us by the nose.

Need another example? Watch out for Gangnam Style's Psy pimping pistachios during the Super Bowl. Wonderful Pistachios put $15 million into an ad campaign a few years ago after a salmonella scare hammered pistachio sales, and the likes of keyboard cat, Snookie and Rob Blagojevich bumped their sales up 233 percent.