Middle School Students Put a Healthy Wager on the Giants

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When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg carries out his important municipal duty at this time of year -- wagering foodstuffs on behalf of the city’s football teams with the mayors of rival cities -- he typically puts traditional New York victuals on the line: a dozen bagels bet on the Giants when they faced the San Francisco 49ers in January.

And for Sunday's Super Bowl contest between the Giants and the New England Patriots, a weekend in New York is in play, including visits to a few well-known restaurants.

Now two middle school principals -- Jacob T. Michelman of Junior High School 13 Jackie Robinson/Central Park East Middle School in East Harlem and Corbett Coutts of Rogers Middle School in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston -- are getting in on the act. But they’re not betting bagels.

Flanked by 100 middle-schoolers, Mr. Michelman laid out the terms of the wager with Mr. Coutts via Skype at a pep rally on Thursday in Central Park East’s auditorium.

If the Patriots win the Super Bowl on Sunday, Mr. Michelman said, he will wear a Patriots jersey to school next week. If the Giants pull off an upset win, Mr. Coutts will don New York’s colors on Monday.

But the principals could not resist laying some food on the line, Bloomberg-style, as well.

“I’m so confident in the Patriots, I’m going to raise the stakes,” Mr. Coutts said. “If the Patriots win, you’re going to send me some of that Greek yogurt you’re eating down in New York.”

Greek yogurt?

The wager, it turns out, is dairy-based for a reason. It’s sponsored by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, which has partnerships with both schools.

If the Giants win, Mr. Coutts will send a hunk of Vermont cheddar cheese to New York. (The Patriots, after all, are New England’s football team rather than just Boston’s.)

But Mr. Michelman -- who said he planned to go to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis this weekend, even though he did not have tickets -- was not the only New Yorker to make yogurt part of a wager this week. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a wager with Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. The goods: 46 dozen bagels, 46 cheesecakes and “46 cases of the State’s newest and hottest exports”: Greek yogurt.

The thick yogurt variety, which has most of the water and whey strained out, is increasingly popular with New Yorkers. Sales have taken off in the United States. The Chobani Greek yogurt plant, located upstate in New Berlin, N.Y., employs 900 people and plans to add 100 more. Another producer, Fage, has its only American plant in Johnstown.

Mr. Coutts’s middle-school students are used to eating yogurt, he said in an interview.

“We serve yogurt parfaits as breakfast on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” he said.

At Central Park East, students seemed more excited about a Giants’ victory on Sunday than the prospect of winning some cheese. They ogled the two Super Bowl rings of Sean Landeta, the former Giants punter who came to the school to promote healthy eating as part of the N.F.L.’s obesity-prevention program, and cheered loudly for the Giants when prompted.

Asked to predict the point spread, Miguel Saez, 14, foresaw a narrow win for the Giants. “I think 27-24,” he said.

“27-20,” Joel Cleto, 14, shouted out. Another boy was even more confident.

“105-0,” he said. “That’s the score.”