As we prepare to consume our 700th chicken wing flavor (on our quest to eat 1,000), its fun to look back at the journey which started just over 1,300 days ago.
Like most normal(?) human beings, Doni, Ryan and I started our wing enjoyment many years ago with traditional hot wings. The good ol’ hot sauce-and-butter recipe that was born at Anchor Bar in Buffalo which became the delicacy that the wingaddicts of the world love so much. To this day, it continues to be the wing flavor by which all others are compared. However . . .
Just as we humans stopped dragging our knuckles and began walking upright, just as the internet, smart phones, and GPS have made life without them seem completely unimaginable, so too has the emergence of different, exciting and creative new chicken wing flavors. The chicken wing evolution is in full bloom!
When we started Wingaddicts at the beginning of this decade, we were flabbergasted to learn that a teenager named Dan Godette had successfully eaten his way through all one-hundred-something flavors on the menu at the legendary Dew Drop Inn in Derby, CT. More thought-provoking than that, though, was the fact that there actually ARE that many flavors! Over one hundred? Who could imagine? Well, now we can.
Throughout this awesome journey we’ve run into professional chefs as well as at-home amateurs who are creating their own flavors using things like ground up cereal, Cheetos, Doritos, Pop Rocks, peanut butter, chocolate, marshmallows and other things you’d never relate to chicken. We’ve even encountered wings with hemp and CBD oil. And we’re not exactly sure why, but somehow it always seems to work!
We’re so spoiled now, in fact, that the first thing we do is look at a restaurant’s menu to see how many flavors they offer and how many of them we haven’t had yet. Some of the undisputed best wing spots we’ve ever been to do NOT offer a huge selection. Iconic places like J.Timothy’s Tavern, Archie Moore’s, Porky’s Cafe and Blind Rhino - just to name a few - stick to doing the basics and doing them to perfection. And that’s just perfect for the hot wing purist.
When you’re an addict, however, you get borderline giddy when you discover a place with an extensive wing menu!
In Connecticut, Dew Drop is the undisputed king offering over 120 different house-made wing flavors all from the tiniest kitchen in the state. Then you have Groggy Frogg, TK’s, jjStacks, Red Rock Cafe, Jimmies Place and Ordinary Joe’s with well over 50 flavors. Sliders and Bidwell Tavern are right in the huge awesome menu conversation as well and then you have The Hub Wood Burning Pizza Bar in Naugatuck, in a league all by itself. The Hub actually “only" has 15 wings on its physical menu, however we must insert the “infinity” symbol because they feature a unique and creative “special” wing flavor every week.
Moving on to other states’ menus, nothing on this earth can possibly be as impressive as Marley’s Gotham Grill in Hackettstown, NJ. With 300 crazy wing flavors, it is officially the world’s most complete “wing flavor encyclopedia” you will ever read!
In New York, actually right across the street from Highmark Stadium in the home of the chicken wing, O’Neill’s Stadium Inn serves up a selection of 50-plus eye-popping flavors on a giant wall menu that greets you when you walk in the door. On Buffalo Bills game days, though, they dial it back to traditional hot “Buffalo” wings only.
In Pennsylvania, Big Shot Bob’s will rock your world with 122 flavors (multiple locations) and even let you add on a flavor to go in a takeout sauce cup for a buck. And, over in Enola, while you see “only” 30 flavors on the wing menu, Center Street Grille is one of the country’s most-exciting wing destinations because Chef Matt Mager is continuously whipping up delicious "off menu" flavors.
And if you're ever in southern Wyoming, BEFORE setting out for Yellowstone you'll want to track down the gang from Weitzel's Wings (AKA, Double Dubs), the most-impressive wing truck operation on the planet! In July, the team went into the Guinness Book of World Records twice. First for serving 28,049 chicken wings in eight hours over one single table, shattering the old record by more than five thousand! And ultimately they set a new 24-hour mark by serving up 48,083! All cooked inside the truck and every one, perfect!
We haven’t run into giant wing menus outside of the states mentioned above, but would love to hear about the ones you’ve seen, and some of the unique flavors you've eaten.
I know, I know. Some of you are thinking that traditional buffalo wings are all you need in your life. But come on! Variety is the spice of life. Expand your horizons! Spread your wings!
Now at 70% of our goal to eat 1,000 different wing flavors - the next logical question is, “what next?” Are there 2,000? Well, as they used to say on The X Files; "The truth is out there!" And so is the list of the 700 flavors we've just finished up! Stay tuned!!
Tommy Wyatt is co-founder of Wingaddicts and author of “Under the Wingfluence." He can be reached directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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