If you dedicated an entire month every winter to constructing intricate replicas of stadiums using snack food, you’d assume you had a background in architecture, or at least some sort of deep love for crafts, right? Not if you’re Sean Aron.
When his wife showed Aron a picture of a snack stadium (or, as the common parlance goes, “Snackadium”) on Pinterest five years ago, he decided he wanted to create his own—but not just any venue. He wanted to study and research Super Bowl host stadiums and build snack replicas, with all the special features to match it. In 2015, this meant a retractable guacamole field for University of Phoenix Stadium. This year? It means using plexiglass to properly depict U.S. Bank Stadium’s glimmering appearance. As he completes his latest snack masterpiece, Aron took some time to talk to SI about his creative process.
Editor’s note: Responses have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: How long have you been building the snack stadiums for and what got you into them in the first place?
Sean Aron: We host a party ever year for family and friends—we usually have 60-80 people at the house—and I really just do it for the family. Five years ago, when the Super Bowl was at MetLife Stadium, my wife showed me a Snackadium on Pinterest and was like, ‘Oh check this out!’ And I said, ‘I’m going to do that but I’m going to do it of the stadium where the game is actually hosted. So I did one and the rest is history.
Q: That’s it? You just decide you want to embark upon a huge construction every year with no past craft experience?
S.A.: I’m the kind of person that tries to challenge myself. I started playing around with it, and the family loved it. It’s become a hit.
Q: How long before the Super Bowl do you start constructing?
S.A.: Well, my wife tells me I can’t start until after the holidays—I joke that she hates it because I take over her kitchen island for an entire month, which is about how long it takes. Right now [at the time of this interview, in the middle of January] I’m about 50-60% done, almost ready for paint on the outside. As soon as that’s done, it should just be the finishing touches. I actually work for a waste management company and we host a big golf tournament down here, so last year I did a Snackadium of the 16th hole there as well. That one was the biggest one—it was six feet. So last year, I was doing that one as well as my Super Bowl stadium, so it was super, super busy.
Q: What do you build the outer part of the stadium out of?
I’ve done it differently each year. The University of Phoenix stadium I made was made out of magazine files and things like that. Last year’s (NRG Stadium) I made completely out of cardboard; the year before I did a mixture of wood and cardboard; this year the majority of it is wood. So it just depends what I’m going for. This year’s going to be really big—I’ve even stepped up my game a little bit. I’m going to use plexiglass this year. If you see pictures of U.S. Bank Stadium, the whole front part of it is glass. And it’s a super odd shape, too. It’s been very, very challenging. Let’s just say that. I wish I had more time to do it.
Q: One of the things that separate your Snackadiums from others is how much attention you pay to the specific stadium itself in the recreation. How do you get a handle of what you want to feature in every stadium?
A: It’s funny because I’ve never been to most of these stadiums [other than his home University of Phoenix stadium]. I’ve never been to U.S. Bank Stadium, for example, so I’ll just research every field, look at pictures and in my head, I’ll get an idea of what I want to do, and the ideas will just start coming. I try to challenge myself each year, so this year, I want to do something outside the box. This time, I did a hidden soda dispenser and my kids, and I made a candy dispenser that we’re incorporating into the stadium. We just keep doing different things to make it fun.
Q: Give us a feel for how much food you’re buying to fill this thing up.
SA: We have an almost 7-foot by 3 1/2-foot [kitchen] island and it was completely full last year. The stadium I’m making this year is probably the biggest size-wise. It takes up the entire island on its own. So last year we did a whole salad bar, we did a nacho bar, we ordered 150 wings—those were gone in three minutes, I didn’t even get to have any, that’s how quickly everything went. So this year we should get 200 or 250 wings. Everyone spends like the first half hour of the Super Bowl party eyeing [the stadium] and no one wants to be the first person to touch it. … Everyone’s taking pictures and as soon as I touch it, they’re like alright, fine, if Sean messed it up then we’re good! And then I got no wings!
Q: What’s the hardest part of the building experience for you?
A: This year’s stadium is so weird, it’s so oddly shaped, the hardest thing is just trying to figure out all the measurements and construction of how I’m going to make it work. Most stadiums have some sort of defining feature; this one, it’s state of the art the way they built it. They built it so that the snow could melt. There are solar panels on top that heat up. That’s why it’s shaped differently, but on the field, there’s no physical thing in the stadium that really stands out.
Q: What’s the highlight of this year’s stadium so far?
A: I have the soda can dispenser that automatically rotates with the ramps, and I put a candy dispenser in one of the end zones, and then you’re going to have the desserts and things like that on the side panels. And of course, the whole front part is going to be made out of the plexiglass.
Q: Do you have a favorite of the ones you’ve built over the years?
A: The University of Phoenix stadium in 2015 was my favorite. That’s our stadium! As a huge Cardinals fan, that’s the most fun one I made. And it’s the one that had the retractable guacamole field!