- Food and Cooking
History of Buffalo Wings
History of Buffalo Wings
Aw, c’mon, you’re thinking. Buffalo do NOT have wings. Birds have wings, airplanes have wings, angels have wings. But buffalo? The first time I heard there was a food called Buffalo wings, I thought someone was trying to be funny.
So I have performed significant research on your behalf, and I’m here to give you the answers to these burning questions that may have been keeping you up at night:
• Who invented the Buffalo wing?
• What is the Super Bowl connection?
• What IS a Buffalo wing?
• What is the Wing Bowl and who is Mr. Kobayashi?
• Are there fast-food chicken wing restaurants?
Who invented the Buffalo wing?
My research indicates, and both Time and The New Yorker magazine agree, that Buffalo chicken wings were invented in Buffalo, New York – yes, there is a city by that name, Virginia – in 1964. Now we all know that deep-fried chicken wings have been a staple of Southern-style cooking for many years. But the concept of cooking wings slathered in a very hot sauce was born in 1964.
Original Anchor Bar Hot Sauce
Here’s the background. Teressa and Frank Bellissimo owned a small family-type restaurant named the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. Frank ordered a large shipment of assorted chicken parts from his supplier. By a stroke of fate and an illegible invoice, all the chicken parts he received were identical – hundreds of chicken wings.
That evening Dominic, the Bellissimo’s son, was at the restaurant with a number of his friends. He asked his mother to cook a midnight snack for them.
His mother remembered all those excess chicken wings and on the spur-of-the-moment, invented her own recipe with her own special hot sauce. She served the wings with blue cheese and celery. Why celery? Because that’s what Mama Teressa had on hand at the time.
Voila! A legend was born. Soon, customers who didn’t even live in Buffalo were clamoring for these delicious hot, spicy Buffalo wings. So Dominic teamed up with a fellow named Dick Winger who had been selling hot sauce to the restaurant, and they traveled around to promote the wings and sell Mama’s hot sauce to other restaurant owners.
Buffalo wings became really hot in 1990 when McDonalds began selling their product named Mighty Wings in some of their fast-food emporiums. Kentucky Fried Chicken, not to be outdone, offered Hot Wings in 1991. And Domino’s Pizza introduced their wings in 1994. They have remained hot to this day. (Source: National Chicken Council)
What is the Super Bowl connection?
I’m glad you asked. Do you remember which football team played in the Super Bowl four years in a row from 1990 to 1993? Go on, take a guess. It was the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo chicken wings received ongoing publicity coverage during that period.
That’s when the connection between the Buffalo wing and the Super Bowl was born. It’s practically un-American now not to indulge in that chicken treat on Super Bowl Sunday.
Did you know that Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving? True! And America’s favorite appetizer, chicken wings, will have a prominent place on television viewers’ menus.
The NCC (National Chicken Council) – you probably did not know that chickens had a council, rignt? – estimated that 1¼ billion wing portions will be consumed that weekend. That is more than 100 million pounds of wings. Here is an extraordinary piece of trivia from the NCC: “If the wings were laid end-to-end they would circle the circumference of the Earth more than twice.”
What a waste of a great appetizer that would be.
"What's the two things they tell you are healthiest to eat? Chicken and fish. You know what you should do? Combine them, eat a penguin." – Dave Attell
What IS a Buffalo wing?
Take a look at the photo of this naked chicken wing. It can be divided into three parts by cutting it where it bends at the joints.
The part closest to the body of the chicken, is the meatiest part. It looks like a tiny drumstick. It’s called a drumette.
The middle part has less meat but lots of flavor and is called – ready for this? – a wingette.
The small pointy end is the tip or nub. No, it is NOT called the tipette. It is mostly a small piece of bone with some skin and useful for cooking a tasty broth.
If your surgical skills are rusty, you can usually find wingettes and drumettes sold separately at your neighborhood market.
Italian Buffalo Wings gluten-free
- 3 pounds chicken drummettes
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup hot sauce
· Combine chicken, marinara and hot sauce in large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place on the counter for 2 hours.
· Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a baker’s rack over a foil covered cookie sheet.
· Place wings on the cookie sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a few of the larger wings are 165 degrees.
· Remove from oven and pop any bubbles of fat under the skin. Serve hot with celery sticks and dressing, if desired.
Note: By eliminating butter and substituting marinara sauce, about 100 grams of fat and around 800 calories are removed.
Check out the Rubber Chicken Gag Gift
Here are two easy Buffalo chicken wing recipes for you to try: the first is similar to the classic Italian Buffalo wing; the second is gluten-free with less calories (see video).
Classic Hot Buffalo Wings – Yields 2 to 4 servings. Total time 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 pounds chicken wingettes and drumettes
- 2 1/2 tablespoons red hot sauce, preferably Frank's Red Hot
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
· Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
· Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable oil.
· In a bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Add the chicken and toss to coat.
· Spread the chicken on the baking sheet in a single layer and spray with vegetable oil.
· Roast the chicken for 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until browned and crispy.
· In a bowl, toss the chicken wings with the hot sauce and butter; and serve.
Warning: eating Buffalo wings can be dangerous to your demeanor. The sauce coats your fingers and manages to get all over your face and clothing no matter how careful you are.
Gluten-free Buffalo chicken wings with less calories
• Official Buffalo city document from 1977 declares July 29 the city's official Chicken Wing Day.
• The National Buffalo Wing Festival (wing fest) is held every year on Labor Day weekend to celebrate the Buffalo style chicken wing.
What is the Wing Bowl and who is Mr. Kobayashi?
In 1993, a Philadelphia radio station hosted the first annual Wing Bowl chicken-wing eating contest.
About 150 people attended Wing Bowl One to see a competition between two contestants in a hotel ballroom.
Since then it has grown to become one of the competitive-eating circuit's most prestigious events, drawing crowds well over 20,000.
The event began as a radio promotion and now includes television and the Internet. Competitive eaters compete for cash prizes by eating the most chicken wings in thirty minutes.
Wing Bowl is traditionally held on the Friday preceding the Super Bowl.
Competitive-eating champ Takeru Kobayashi, conquered Philadelphia’s annual gustatory gorge-fest by eating 337 chicken wings in a half-hour before a crowd of nearly 20,000 at Wing Bowl XX 2011.
He demolished the record of 255 set the year before by Jonathan “Super” Squibb.
Kobayashi won a $20,000 cash prize for his victory. It was the six-time Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest champ’s first time competing at Wing Bowl.
It’s good news for chicken farmers that he favors chicken wings, too.
Where do Americans Buy Their Wings?
According to NCC data for last year, the top 5 restaurant categories to order chicken wings throughout the year are:
Casual Dining Restaurants: 33%
Pizza places: 26%
Chicken places: 16%
Mid-priced full service restaurants: 9%
Food stores: 8%
Are there fast-food chicken wing restaurants?
Wingstop is a Texas-based restaurant franchise with 500 locations. They expect to serve more than 5.6 million wings on Super Bowl Sunday alone – an increase of 12% over 2011. The most popular wing flavors are Original Hot (Buffalo), Lemon Pepper, and Hickory Smoked BBQ.
Wingstop was founded almost 20 years ago. “Since then we’ve seen an enormous increase in the popularity of wings as a Super Bowl food,” said Jim Flynn, Wingstop CEO. “Fans place orders weeks early.”
Wing Zone, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is taking advantage of the increased chicken-wing traffic to introduce two new flavor rubs to their current line-up of 15 awarding winning options: Cool Ranch – “the great taste of ranch without the need for dipping” and Blackened Voodoo – “the Holy Trinity of Cajun flavors combined with bayou heat.” They expect to sell almost one million wings at 60 locations on Super Bowl Sunday.
You know what? Right this minute, I have the most intense desire to run out and pick up some of those delicious hot, spicy Buffalo chicken wings. How about you?
© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2012. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." Readers say my book provided information they needed to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview, and negotiate salary successfully. Includes a chapter for older workers.
Note: Credit is hereby awarded to my beautiful granddaughter, Robyn Kane, for suggesting that I research the history of Buffalo wings. Thank you, Robyn.
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