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Americans will eat 3 billion chicken wings Super Bowl Sunday

(Atharva Tulsi, Unsplash)

The Super Bowl is coming up on February 2nd and I’m telling you the date because I had to Google it. If you’ve been listening to me long enough, you know the Super Bowl for me is 100% snack and 0% sport. And one of the most popular Super Bowl snacks is chicken wings. The National Chicken Council reports that last year Americans ate 1.39 billion wings, which was 27 million more than the year before. That’s enough wings to circle the earth three times.

One woman who loves chicken chicken wings is disco queen Gloria Gaynor. Gaynor is the latest guest on my podcast, Your Last Meal. She won a Grammy 40 years ago for her anthem I Will Survive and she’s up for two more Grammys this weekend for her new album, Testimony. Gaynor’s last meal is chicken wings and I urge you to go to to listen to my interview with her. But what I am going to share with you right now, is the history of the Buffalo chicken wing, the wing that started it all.

As the story goes, Buffalo wings were invented at Anchor Bar in Buffalo New York, opened in 1935 by Theresa and Frank Bellissimo. But Buffalo wings weren’t born until 1964.

“Their son was tending bar at the Anchor Bar when a group of his friends came in,” said Mark Dempsey, vice president of Anchor Bar.

Dempsey says these friends wanted something spicy, something different than the Italian food Anchor Bar served, so Theresa went back into the kitchen and got to work.

“She came across these nice, plump chicken wings that she was going to make soup stock with the next day and came up with a concoction of her own,”said Dempsey. “She deep fried them and put a little homemade hot sauce on them, what is now known as Buffalo chicken wing sauce, served it with celery and blue cheese and brought it out to the bar. When she first brought it out, the story goes, that everyone just stood there and stared at it like, ‘What’s this?’ because they were never served like that before. But they were an instant hit, they loved them, and the rest is history, right?”

The reason the guys looked confused is because nobody ate chicken wings back then. They were a throw away part mostly used to make stock.

“It was the cheapest part of the bird and nowadays its the most expensive part,” he said. “Chicken wings are more expensive than chicken breast or chicken thighs, any part of the chicken. Especially with the Super Bowl coming up, the price tends to go up even more because the demand increases around Super Bowl.”

True Buffalo chicken wings are deep fried but never breaded and coated in a thick, brick red sauce that gets its heat from cayenne pepper and tang from vinegar. Melted butter is added to mellow out a spicy sauce. Even though Buffalo wings were invented in 1964, it wasn’t until the late 70s, early 80s that they really took off. Wings became a staple on the menu at Hooters, all-wing restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings started popping up and just like any food that hits its tipping point, American chefs started riffing; they whipped up sticky hoisin wings, spicy chipotle wings, honey garlic wings and the particular type of wing sauce that Gloria Gaynor loves.

So grab a wet wipe and listen to Your Last Meal featuring Gloria Gaynor at or where ever you listen to podcasts.

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