Listening Post: Winging it

This image of a four-legged six-winged chicken was used recently in a hoax attempting to explain how KFC serves the lopsided taste ratio for chicken extremities.

I may be one of few remaining Americans with an abiding interest in chicken wings, but no interest at all in the Super Bowl. However, the saucy and succulent treat has become so identified with this annual tussle that NPR’s blog The Salt reports that 1.3 billion wings will be consumed this weekend, or (as they so conveniently calculate it) enough to “stretch from Candlestick Park in San Francisco to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore 27 times.” That’s a lot of bird. I wonder how many Olympic-size swimming pools full of blue cheese dressing that takes?

The post also comes with an infographic, showing the Super Bowl Sunday spike in wing consumption compared to the rest of the year. My favorite Super Bowl infographic came out a couple years ago, when a municipal water plant manager was able to chart the timing of commercial breaks during the game by the spikes in flow in the city’s water and sewer systems.

But getting back to wings, their preeminence has lead other snack-meat purveyors to respond with jealous zeal. Taco Bell has tried to promote tacos as a replacement for the increasingly expensive bird limbs, and NPR elsewhere in its sport/food coverage suggests “folding empanadas into your Super Bowl spread.” So far, no substitute has gotten past the 50-yard line.

The wing crowd divides itself into two natural categories–probably determined by kitchen size and culinary skill–take-outers and do-it-yourselfers.  For the latter, here are some recipes from allrecipes.com. Get back to me with your reviews. For the take-out crowd–who makes them best? Details please. And if you have the nerve to prefer other fare for the game buffet table, let us know what else goes down well with vicarious gridiron combat.

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12 Responses to “Listening Post: Winging it”

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  1. Al Smith says:

    Just imagine the riches that would accure to the genetic engineer who first breeds a chicken with four wings!

  2. I, too, have attention deficit when it comes to the Super Bowl. Actually, I gave up on commercial television decades ago, so it’s a bit of a novelty when I see a TV at one of my favorite watering holes. I think this might call for a festivus-style event on SB Sunday for those of us out-of-step with the ‘bulk’ of America, something with its own special food identity and a soundtrack provided by NPR.

  3. Lucy Martin says:

    That is a seriously creepy photo.

  4. Neal Burdick says:

    Presumably, those 1.3 billion wings will come off 0.65 billion chickens. So what I want to know is, what becomes of the rest of each one? As to the Super Bowl, the game has become increasingly secondary to the hoopla surrounding it (we remember the “wardrobe malfunction,” but not who played that year), so I think they should abolish it and just do the pre-game, halftime and post-game stuff.

  5. Nancy Currier says:

    Best chicken wings? It’s a toss up…when it’s open…the A&W in Lake George and for cravings the rest of the year it’s Pete’s Ahh in North Creek. Dee-lish.

  6. Michael Greer says:

    I’ve always wanted to cross a pig with a python…think of the ribs!

  7. Michael Greer says:

    Some clever statistician could probably crunch the numbers and tell us how many pounds will be gained on Super Bowl Sunday, by what percentage the risk of heart attack increases, and what the increased cost to the taxpayer will be. A Congressional panel could be formed, and they would ultimately recommend that TVs must be powered by a treadmill. Rich folks would hire a kid from the track team to do the running for them, thereby increasing the tax base of the country, while the lazy classes would give up watching football altogether and take up other hobbies. Many of those hobbies would grow into businesses over time, increasing the Nations productivity, and creating jobs for those with less imagination.
    Before you know it, we’ll have condos on the moon.

  8. David Sommerstein says:

    I’m a Buffalonian, so we always ordered take out wings. Too many great places not to. And we still call them “chicken wings”, BTW.

    The best wings in St. Lawrence County are at Eben’s Hearth in Potsdam. Hands down. Only ones remotely like wings in Buffalo.

  9. Laurie says:

    I have been a Buffalonian as well, but WAY before chicken wing days! (I remember “ride trucks”, much like ice cream trucks but with mini Tilt-a-Whirls & Ferris wheels) Am I really almost 60….?

    Anyway, I’m a fan of Frank’s Hot Sauce recipe. Reliable, yummy. Tweak as desired.

    And Dale, you are not alone: Mr. Hubby calls me from other rooms (usually the kitchen) when commercials come on and at halftime. He’s really looking for food of course, but we stick to other munchie fare these days, like blueberry goat cheese with fruit and crackers – I’m hooked – and other non-traditional Super Bowl eats. Salad, anyone?

  10. Pete Klein says:

    I understand football. Interest in the Super Bowl largely depends on a New York team or the Lions playing in it. Otherwise, to me its just another football game and one that runs too late into the night to watch all of it.
    As to chicken wings, my wife does a good job but I prefer the legs.
    As to special food to watch a game, any game, can’t figure that one except for advertisers who have convinced people to eat and drink as much as possible as often as possible for any and every reason or no reason at all.
    I’ll have my regular dinner around 5 pm as usual.

  11. Kent Gregson says:

    Dale, as I’m sure you know, each chicken has only 2 wings. That means that for every dozen wings sold there are 12 breasts to sell and 12 thighs to sell and so on. I’m not interested in the superbowl either, but this is not the time to get wings. this is when you buy breasts, thighs and drumsticks, the rest of the chicken is much cheaper now.

  12. Ellen Rocco says:

    What Lucy said.