Free Enterprise Staff  | February 5, 2016

The Super Bowl: Made in America? Not Entirely.

This story originally appeared on Above the Fold, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s digital platform featuring analysis, commentary, and real stories about the intersection of government and business.

Super Bowl Sunday: It’s America’s game, America’s night, and America’s traditions. Surely, there’s nothing more star-spangled spectacular than watching the big game on the big screen, a cold beer in one hand a towering plate of wings in the other. It’s a night that oozes red, white and blue.

Or is it?

When you really think about the things that make Super Bowl Sunday a de facto national holiday, you begin to realize just how much of the fanfare depends on a little help from our trading partners around the world. So, as we gear up for the 50th installment of the greatest night in sports, here’s a look at what the Super Bowl would be missing without global trade and our friends overseas.

Hot wings

The Super Bowl wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without hot wings, and hot wings wouldn’t be hot wings without hot sauce. But what does that have to do with global trade?

Well, the chicken in your hot wings almost assuredly came from the United States (less than one percent of all poultry is imported). In all likelihood, so did the tomatoes (two out of three tomatoesconsumed in the U.S. were grown here) that make up the base of most hot sauces. However, there’s one important ingredient that probably made its way over the border before making its way onto your drumsticks.

Led by those in California, Texas and New Mexico, U.S. farmers produce millions of pounds of jalapeño peppers (a key ingredient in many hot sauces) every year. However, that’s not nearly enough to satisfy Americans’ appetite for spicy foods, particularly during football season. So, the U.S. brings in about $3 million worth of jalapeño peppers each year, most of them coming from China, Mexico and India. Without those peppers, we would be in for a much more mild Super Bowl Sunday.

Guacamole

While wings, pizza and burgers have been Super Bowl party staples for years, guacamole has surged onto the scene in the past decade. Today, no party would be complete without “the guac” (hold the peas, please), which means no party would be complete without trade. In 2014, 85 percent of the 4.25 billion avocados devoured in the U.S. were imported from other countries, the bulk of them coming in from Mexico. If that number holds up this weekend, that means that nearly 7 million of the 8 million pounds of green goodness Americans are expected to eat this Sunday will come from outside our borders.

On the other hand, the vast majority of the tortilla chips we dip in that guacamole – or salsa, queso, you name it – were produced in the United States, led by production on the West Coast.

Beer

Americans love our Budweiser, Miller and Coors (among many other domestics), as well as the incredible variety of products of U.S. craft breweries. In fact, the number of U.S. breweries more than doubled in the past decade. Nevertheless, many Americans will also enjoy a cold Heineken, Corona or Dos Equis while watching the game on Sunday. In fact, Americans tend to drink about one imported beer for every six domestics consumed.

Now, that may not sound like a lot – until you consider that Americans will guzzle an estimated (and staggering) 325 million gallons of beer during the Super Bowl, the equivalent 3.5 billion 12-ounce cans. Based on the annual ratio, that means we will drink nearly 500 million imported beers during the big game.

The commercials

It’s the primary reason many will tune in on Sunday, and it wouldn’t be the same without trade, either.

Granted, U.S. companies have produced many gems over the years (think Budweiser’s Clydesdales, Coke’s Mean Joe Green and Apple’s 1984). But let’s think back to last year. Did you get a laugh out of that Newcastle “non-commercial” featuring Anna Kendrick? How about Fiat’s “blue pill” spot and Liam Neeson’s Clash of Clans commercial? Well, without U.S. customers for those foreign companies, there wouldn’t be much incentive for Newcastle, Fiat, or Supercell (the Finnish firm behind the addictive mobile game) to pay millions of dollars to advertise during America’s big night.

The Lombardi Trophy

It’s the moment every football player dreams about – the culmination of another season and the crowning of a new NFL champion. Of course, we’re talking about the presentation of the iconic Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy? This one has to be all-American, right? Not quite.

Yes, the trophy is (and has always been) made by New York-based Tiffany & Co., the famed jeweler. And yes, it is manufactured by hand in a small factory in Parsippany, N.J. The trophy is also transported every year from the factory to the Super Bowl stadium (a cross-country journey this year) by renowned transportation security company Brink’s, which is based in Richmond, Va.

However, the seven pounds of steel that either the Cam Newton or Payton Manning will hoist above their head on Sunday night didn’t come from the United States. That’s because the only place Tiffany & Co. can find sheets of high-grade steel big enough to make the trophy is Italy. Once again, grazie trade.

The Halftime Show

Okay, maybe this doesn’t really count as global trade – but Coldplay (this year’s halftime headliner) isa British band. Last year’s legendary “Left Shark” was inspired by a performance at the United Kingdom’s annual pop music awards show, and the year before that, Bruno Mars and his band sported some memorable gold blazers created by renowned French fashion house Saint Laurent. Just sayin’.

Bottom line: The Super Bowl has always been and will always be America’s game – but it wouldn’t be the same without some of the products we bring in from around the world. And sure, it’s only one night, but it’s a telling example of the many ways in which free markets and global trade benefit our lives. America wouldn’t be America without it.