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Morgan Hill
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December 10, 2023

It was a winning day for Cal’s first Super Bowl

With the 49ers on the road to the Super Bowl for the first time in over a decade, the Bay Area was on fire. Red and gold ruled while Super Bowl parties took on a fever not seen in years. At our house, the Super Bowl gathering comprised our family of 10, including baby Cal who, at 6 months old, was experiencing his first Big Game.

Of course the Super Bowl is the trifecta of Big Time Americana. Commercials, big ad agencies’ most eagerly anticipated offerings, were the priciest on TV all year. Thirty-second spots went for a cool $4 million.

And with good reason: advertising research is evolving technically these days. President of Innerscope Research, Brian Levine, explained how viewers outfitted with heart-rate monitors were measured for their excitement levels, if they leaned in toward the commercial’s content, whenever they held their breath, if they were laughing – all fodder for 21st century advertising research.

Audience polls revealed this year’s favorite Super Bowl ad was the heartstring-tugging Budweiser baby Clydesdale ad accompanied by Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” – I mean, who wouldn’t get a little misty over that? Of course there were other hits and misses along the way including a winning two-minute ad ($16 million big ones!!) for Dodge entitled “God Made a Farmer.” Still photos and voice-over from a 1978 Paul Harvey reading was a moving tribute to America’s farmers.

And, of course, who doesn’t reminisce about favorite ads from years gone by – “Mean Joe Green” in 1980 (“Hey, kid! Catch!”), Budweiser frogs and just about anything from Doritos.

Super Bowl food sees a lot of play action on Big Game day, too. Pizza, “wings” and nachos always make it to the party tables (despite a hefty hike in chicken wing prices). Super Bowl Sunday is a good time to roll out a few new offerings as well. My two daughters contributed to the food table with yummy dips, some downright healthy caprese salad kabobs (for a much-needed “cleansing” after all those nachos) and a neat twist on bruschetta with honey and gorgonzola on sour-dough toast rounds.

And, yes, there’s the Super Star itself – the actual football game, which in some years, tragically becomes the least exciting offering of the day. A blowout lures lingerers at the food table and the beer keg, the outdoor basketball hoop or – in extreme cases – game-day watchers hang it all up for the mall. Well, that’s usually us girls, but still.

But folks throughout the Bay Area eagerly watched the opening kick-off of this year’s big game, hoping to see the 49ers bring it all home again. By the end of the first half, the exuberance had faded as the 49ers seemed to be in a hole too deep to climb out of. Yes, it was a little quiet on the home front.

Then, a turn-around in New Orleans, and things got a little livelier after the 30-plus minute electrical outage – a completely unforeseen and quirky anomaly in The Big Easy. Speculation on the cause of the outage ran amok – somebody forgot to pay the electric bill? A blowout fueled by Beyoncé’s half-time show?

New Orleans may have lost stadium power for a time, but that black-out served as a miraculous re-grouping for the 49ers who came back with a vengeance and – folks, we had a game! Now THIS was more like it! There was much whooping and hollering as the Brothers Harbaugh clashed, their two teams performing like the talented titans they are.

So how did my newest grandchild handle his first Super Bowl? He was trooper. Refusing his nap, he watched his brother and girl cousins playing nearby, sampled non-Super Bowl baby food, even checked out a couple of ads. But the highlight of the afternoon came when I held Cal during halftime as Beyoncé (the sedately-dressed rock star who lip-synched the Star Spangled Banner on Inauguration Day), let loose in lace and black leather fabulousness. And Cal? Sat on my lap, both eyes glued to the screen and the gyrating Beyoncé and Never. Moved. A. Muscle.

Yep, that baby is all boy.

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