Close to half a million people attend the All England Lawn Tennis Club Championships, better known as Wimbledon fortnight, or just Wimbledon. Maybe they should simply call it The Hunger because the amount of food they consume in two weeks makes feeding the 5,000 seem like child's play. In fact, Wimbledon is the biggest annual sports catering event in Europe.
Napoleon may have said An army marches on its stomach (leave it to a Frenchman), but at Wimbledon it's an audience that watches on its stomach. It takes 1,800 catering staff to feed them and watching tennis must be hungry work. The 2016 food facts haven't been calculated yet but here, according to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, is what they they chomped, slurped and gulped through in 2015:
- 330,000 cups of tea and coffee
- 230,000 bottles of water
- 190,000 sandwiches
- 150,000 scones, bath buns and doughnuts
- 320,000 glasses of Pimm’s
- 135,000 ice creams
- 10,000 frozen yogurts
- 240,000 served meals
- 110,000 pints of draft beer and lager
- 60,000 Dutchees - a hot dog type sausage sold at Wimbledon
- 30,000 portions of fish and chips
- 44,000 liters (46,494 quarts) of milk
- 5,000 kilos (about 11,000 pounds) of bananas, That's about 42,000 bananas - and that's just for the players
- 30,000 stone-baked pizzas
- 29,000 bottles of champagne
- 30,000 meals for the catering staff.
And Don't Forget the Strawberries and Cream
How could we? According to Facilities Management Catering, the company who do this gargantuan job, spectators consumed 23 metric tonnes (about 50,700 pounds) of English strawberries - that's 2 million individual strawberries. Laid end to end, they'd stretch almost 37 miles. And they're served with 10,000 liters (10,567 quarts) of fresh cream.
These aren't just any old strawberries. They're Grade 1 English strawberries from registered farms in Kent. They're picked the day before being served, arrive at Wimbledon at 5:30 a.m. and are individually inspected before being hulled. With that kind of pedigree it makes the price of £2.50 for a minimum of 10 strawberries with cream seem like a right bargain.
What Else is Consumed at Wimbledon?
Have you ever noticed how many balls the competitors at Wimbledon seem to toss away after a bounce or two? You might be astonished to discover how many balls are actually "consumed" (used and discarded) during the Wimbledon fortnight.
In 2015, 54,250 balls were used during the championship. Before they're used, the balls are stored at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. New balls are supplied to the courts after every nine games.
In case you're wondering what happens to the balls after they're used or discarded by the players, they are sold. Every day used balls are sold to Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)-affiliated clubs and to the public in the grounds. They're sold in cans of 3 for £2.50 with the proceeds going to the LTA's Wimbledon Balls for Schools program.
And About Those Trophy Towels
Every year, 6,000 of the colorful championship towels are set aside for the competitors at Wimbledon to use. They're made by Christy, an Indian company that once made towels for Queen Victoria.
The company actually makes nearly 100,000 of the special towels, most of which are sold to the public You can even have them personalised for free when you buy them from the Wimbledon shop for £29.
You'd think, given the prize money involved in professional tennis, that the players could afford to splash out on a few towels to take home as souvenirs for friends and family. But, apparently they'd rather keep the ones they use during the matches.
Even though the All England Lawn Tennis Club (aka Wimbledon) would dearly like the towels to be returned, only about 20% of them are. In 2015, 2,123 towels were sent out for the men's matches but only 564 were returned. A total of 2,016 were supplied for the women's matches and only 456 were returned. Ball boys and court attendants used to politely ask for them back but these days, the club has given in and resigned itself to the disappearing towels.