Super Bowl 2023 Food Ads: Tasting Table Staff Weighs In On The Best And Worst

After a close game, the Kansas City Chiefs have officially been crowned the Super Bowl 2023 champs. But if you're anything like us, you were probably a little more interested in how many hot wings you were able to fit on a tiny, football-themed paper plate and the ads aired between downs than you were in how many touchdowns were scored or which player would be named MVP.

As is the case every year, some seriously memorable food ads aired during the Super Bowl — from Popcorners' "Breaking Bad" homage to Blue Moon's totally unexpected twist to Pringles repackaging its ad from 2022. (Hey, if it ain't broke, why come up with a new idea?)

Of course, this is the Super Bowl we're talking about, arguably the most important competition of the year. So in the spirit of the night, Tasting Table staff named their picks for the best and worst food ads that aired during the big game. Because when it comes down to it, there is always a winner and a loser — and we have some serious opinions.

The best: Doritos - Joe Dillard

We can always count on Doritos to deliver a goofy Super Bowl commercial that keeps viewers laughing for days. This year's program definitely did not disappoint, focusing on what some may consider one of music's most underrated instruments: the triangle.

The celebrity cameos added to the fun, and the entirely too long and drawn-out journey of the triangle to top prominence in society was the exact kind of humor we look forward to from these incredibly well-produced commercials. When the news broke that the triangle replaced the British Pound it seemed the commercial could not get more absurd, but the surprise twist at the end was truly what Super Bowl commercial dreams are made of.

The worst: Avocados from Mexico - Joe Dillard

The Avocados from Mexico commercial was a little strange. We know that was the point (honestly, a naked Statue of Liberty?), but overall the spot fell a bit flat. Of course, it was well-produced and very creative, but the storyline, starting with an avocado reversing the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, seemed a bit underdeveloped.

Sometimes heartfelt commercials are the way to go, but cheeky (pun intended) ads are definitely a solid way to get everyone talking. In that regard, mission accomplished, Avocados from Mexico. People will be scratching their heads about this one for days to come.

The best: Pepsi - Jessie Molloy

Among the ads that attempted to play off nostalgia during the big game, the one that did it the best was Pepsi Zero Sugar, which used two spots featuring actors Ben Stiller and Steve Martin to challenge viewers to see for themselves if the soft drink's new formulation was actually "really, really good tasting" or if the comedians were just acting when they said so.

While both spots managed to garner a laugh with the stars' outlandish parodies of Hollywood tropes — including obvious allusions to Star Wars, "The Revenant," and Martin's profanity-laced rental car scene in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" — the entire spot was sold by Stiller's reprisal of his iconic Derrick Zoolander role — including the male model's infamous "blue steel" look. The stars are both likable and funny, and challenging the audience directly to try the new formula was a clever twist on the ad and the concept of the celebrity endorsement.

The worst: M&Ms - Jessie Molloy

Going into the Super Bowl, the most anticipated ad was for M&Ms. Following the brand's startling announcement that it would be temporarily pausing ads with its iconic spokescandies following conservative backlash to recent adjustments to the female characters, suspicion rose that the brand was setting up a stunt for the Super Bowl, something which became more obvious as the big game approached.

When the ad finally aired in the second quarter, people were mostly confused. The ad announcing Maya Rudolph's changing of the candy from M&Ms to "My and Ya's" was strange, especially as she continued to say the candy was now going to be little chocolate-covered clams, forcing many to wonder what the joke was. The ad ended with the red M&M candy behind Rudolph holding a sign which said "help," leading some to believe it was building to a second post-halftime ad, but none came. Instead, a small tag near the end of the game simply had the M&Ms spokescandies at a press conference saying "we're back!" It felt like we missed something important. This ad had a fantastic opportunity to be both memorable and hilarious as a clap back to the candy's critics, but instead, it felt half-heart and confusing, like a movie with a pivotal scene cut out.

The best: Hellmann's - Hope Ngo

The food-related ads which ran during this year's Super Bowl didn't really introduce us to anything new. Instead, as in the past, the ads were all about establishing and/or maintaining brand identity which really means setting one product apart from its direct competitors.

That said, because the product mix doesn't really vary much between different Super Bowls, we end up looking at variations on themes built on snacks, beer, and soft drinks year after year.

Hellmann's Brie and Hamm gag for Super Bowl 2023 really stood out, as it managed to balance the endorsement presence of three mega stars (who doesn't love a Pete Davidson cameo?) while keeping the spotlight on the mayo and what could be done with it. It was cute, clever, and it had the "combat food waste message" going for it.

The worst: Dunkin' - Hope Ngo

Dunkin's ad with Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck was unexpectedly bland. It showed Affleck manning a takeout counter for a Boston Dunkin' branch and being caught by Jennifer Lopez.

While the visuals might have made the tabloids happy, from a strict food point of view, the ad raised a few questions, chiefly: what were they selling and what was the point? At least all the beer commercials managed to remind people that the product was still king with clever product placements (looking at you, Michelob Ultra and Busch Light). While cute, the focus of the Dunkin' ad seemed to be the celebrities, not the brand.

The best: Doritos - Erin Shaw

Doritos' "triangle" ad with Jack Harlow was clever and funny, and the production value was really strong, which made it fun to watch. In the ad, the rapper looks frustrated in the recording booth and thinks his music isn't right. In the corner, he sees someone eating the new Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ flavor and feels inspired by the triangular shape to approach the music from a "new angle."

The scene fades into him playing the triangle for a captivated audience and it's a hit. From there, a movie-like montage of Harlow leaving his rap career to play the triangle ensues: He ends up teaching students how to play, as well as being praised by the media for his career pivot. The ad takes a hilarious turn at the very end with the musician losing "triangle player of the year" to Elton John. The ad is as creative as it is entertaining — a parody of society and how the world is always itching to find the newest, hottest trend.

The worst: PopCorners - Erin Shaw

After a steady stream of teasers and hype, PopCorners' "Breaking Bad" ad missed the mark.

In the ad, we see the show's star characters Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul) discovering and sharing PopCorners chips as if they are a drug. Since the drug in question in "Breaking Bad" is methamphetamine, which causes a lot of pain for those who deal with addiction and their families, not to mention the ever-increasing number of overdoses and deaths attributed to it, comparing the two felt a touch insensitive and in bad taste.

The best: Hellmann's - John Tolley

Are puns involving celebrity names cheap? Maybe, but they just seem to hit every time. (Case in point: SNL's phenomenally creepy "Hamm and Bublé" sketch, which features the amazing menace of Jon Hamm and the palpable fear of a terrorized Michael Bublé.) Hamm's meaty moniker is being put to good use once again, this time for an actual commercial, not a spoof.

Mayo titan Hellmann's — or Best Foods west of the Rocky Mountains — pairs the former Mad Man with Oscar-winner Brie Larson for a beautifully cheesy ad pitching the condiment. Trapped in a fridge and stripped of the gravitas their roles have given them, the pair realize that they're the living embodiment of the foodstuffs with which they share a nominal similarity. And then Pete Davidson shows up with designs to turn them into a delicious sandwich.

Almost sounds too simple to work, but it pulls the stunt off, playfully taking a bit of the wind out of Hamm and Larson's sails while displaying their range for comedy. It's also got America's number one lovable goofball, and, while Davidson arguably isn't the featured performer, he does bring his signature charm and affability to the spot. Plus, it's an ad for mayonnaise, the true king of condiments. What's not to love?

The worst: M&Ms - John Tolley

Maya Rudolph could probably run for Congress and win. (There's precedent for it by Al Franken, and he was arguably less beloved than Rudolph.) She is one of the best comedians to come out of SNL in the last two decades, and though not on the cast anymore, still elicits howls of laughter and applause whenever she makes an appearance. She crushed it in "Bridesmaids," voices a bawdy, yet sensitive hormone monster on "Big Mouth," and is stealing the show on "Loot," so it was a smart move by Mars to make her the new face of M&Ms, especially given the weird press the brand has gotten of late — thanks in no small part to Tucker Carlson's cringey politicization of their anthropomorphic spokes-candies. A cherished staple of the candy pantheon deserves an equally cherished spokesperson.

That being said, M&Ms' Super Bowl spot featuring Rudolph felt underwritten and underwhelming, with too little of her comedy skills on display. Perhaps it was rushed since its run in the headlines has been rather recent and the brand didn't have time to fully flesh out the campaign before the big game. One hopes that's the case and around the corner are commercials that more deeply mine the comedic talent they have on hand.