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They oughta just make Super Bowl Sunday an official national holiday; 125 million Americans can't be wrong. Think about it: How many other noncelebratory days necessitate gatherings of friends and family, the donning of ceremonial garb, a cram-it-all-in pig-out and a desperate search for hangover cures the following day? Let's face it: Even if you can't tell Warren Sapp from pine sap, odds are you'll be plunked down in front of the tube with a handful of NFL freaks madly ranting about 22 huge dudes chucking a pigskin around.

Maybe you know diddly about the game and you're just there for the commercials (be sure to keep weary ears perked for M&M/Mars' much-anticipated "Most Annoying Phrase of 2000 Contest" spot); well, that's no excuse to stay silent while others display their stunning knowledge of arcana. Check out some of these statistics guaranteed to appeal to any foodie. (And how about that national holiday designation, George?)

Hosting a party on Sunday? You're not alone. According to Hallmark Cards Inc., the Super Bowl represents the No. 1 at-home party event of the year. Believe it or not, it's even bigger than New Year's Eve. (One wonders when we might see cards celebrating the event not to mention Super Bowl Monday sympathy editions for the losing team's fans.) Hallmark also figures the average number of people attending a Super shindig to be 17, so, calculating with reference to per-capita beer consumption, hosts should probably buy ... a lot.

Though rumors of economic slowdown are becoming more and more rife as Dubya settles into his new office, this week's deluge of shoppers could damn well carry the entire national economy. No less than $55 million are expected to be spent on food for The Big Game. After spending an estimated 10 million man-hours (give or take a couple of seconds) preparing all that grub, Americans are expected to consume the lot within approximately 15 minutes, well before the first touchdown is scored.

And speaking of rampant consumption, Super Bowl Sunday marks the day on which Americans chow the second-greatest amount of food. Top dog here is Thanksgiving, whose numbers are no doubt reduced due to the saying of grace, which cuts down on valuable scarfing time. Thanks won't be given until after the game if the Baltimore Ravens prevent the Giants from bringing the second professional championship trophy in three months to the Big Apple.

How much do we eat? Almost 15,000 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn. To take these out of rational perspective, lining up each and every chip would produce a trail of almost 293,000 miles (not quite one-and-a-half times the distance to the moon, or six feet per American). Meanwhile, a popcorn string consisting of all that popcorn would ring the Earth almost five-and-a-half times--take that, Saturn!

The real winner in terms of food sales has got to be the avocado, however. The California Avocado Commission cites impressive numbers indeed for their Super Sunday: Some 12 million pounds of avocado are sold in preparation for the game so that Americans may gorge themselves on an estimated eight million pounds of guacamole. The only better time for avocado hockers is, natch, Cinco de Mayo. If you took all of those avocado and lined 'em up ... ah, forget it.

Then there's the following day; hey, there's a reason they don't call it "Super Monday" and another good excuse for an official three-day weekend. 7-Eleven claims a whopping 20 percent in sales of antacid the day after the Super Bowl. Just imagine what convenience stores in Brooklyn are going to look like after a Giants defeat ...

Also important to remember: Statistics show that 6 percent of all working Americans will call in sick the day after the Bowl. Figuring in the above number regarding average party attendance, this means that just over one person per gathering will whine to the boss on Monday. If you're partying with colleagues, you might want to take an informal poll before having that umpteenth brewski.

Oh, and one more thing. Save yourself a little heartburn and bet against the Giants. Prediction: Ravens 10, Giants 3.

--Os Davis

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