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A Basket of Wings

July 30, 2014

I love chicken wings. I’ve loved chicken wings for a long long time. Buffalo wings were a favorite of mine years before I even know about Frank’s Red Hot or the existence of a place called The Anchor Bar.

Since then, wings have become a national phenomenon. The market price for chicken wings has skyrocketed. At the beginning this little flap of mostly skin and bone was pretty much considered worthless. Now the wing business is a goldmine.


The good things always get discovered. And when they do, they somehow get stupid expensive. I guess that’s supply and demand in action. Besides being cheaper, an order of wings was also larger. Generous places would sell them by the dozen. These days it’s much more common to see wings in orders of ten. But it’s not unheard of to see an order of eight.

There are some who lament the declining number of wings in their basket. But I can’t say that I’m one of them. As much as I love wings, having fewer of them in an order actually makes me happy for a few of reasons.

Most importantly, fried foods in general and wings in particular, are best the moment they are served. As they cool, and their butter sauce congeals, the texture declines dramatically. Never ever order wings for takeout. I mean, what’s the point?

The first hot bite of a Buffalo wing is amazing. Sometimes, they are even a bit too hot, and the second wing is a bit better just because it doesn’t fill your mouth with the searing pain of blisteringly hot oil. The third wing is fine. But eventually they begin to decline. The fifth isn’t nearly as good as the first. And sometimes I find that by the eighth, eating these things is more of a chore than a delight.

Don’t get me wrong, I can eat an entire order of wings. My appetite is robust, especially for foods that I love. It’s just that smaller orders help to prevent tragic wing cooldowns. I would much rather share a small order of wings with a friend, and then order a second one just to make sure that I’m eating these fine foods at the peak of their perfection.

It’s why I’ll never order two slices of pizza at the same time, unless there’s some emergency. Sure, it costs a little bit more to order like this, but it’s totally worth it.

Perhaps you think that jumping through such hoops is totally ridiculous. Well, maybe I should remind you about just how bad Buffalo wings are for you. They are so bad that it’s almost impossible to find nutritional information for them online. It’s crazy.

Thankfully, the good folks at epicurious posted a recipe, and here is what they found for a serving of their Buffalo wings. Note that the below is for three wing segments (that’s technically just one and a half actual wings) that have been fried in vegetable oil and tossed with a butter based hot sauce:

– 362 calories
– 34 grams of fat (52%)
– 8 grams of sat fat (40%)
– 805 milligrams of sodium (34%)
– 72 milligrams of cholesterol (24%)

Six wings would be twice that. Twelve wings would weigh in over 1400 calories and two days worth of your total fat. That’s not counting any accompanying blue cheese either, or the beer or french fries you have on the side.

So maybe it’s worth while to think about splitting a small order of eight with a friend. Four really great wings are still a treat in my book. And from a dietary perspective, they are still a splurge.

Remember, we are all subject to palate fatigue. Sure, you can always reach for some celery and blue cheese dressing to reset your taste buds and get you primed for another fiery morsel. However, the bulk of the pleasure you’re going to receive from an order of wings is in the first few bites.

I say eat fewer wings, but enjoy them more often. Because those things are delicious, but they are just awful for you. And given their caloric load, do you really want to eat one that’s not amazing?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. -R. permalink
    July 30, 2014 9:59 am

    Is it just me, or have wings also gotten exponentially larger in the past couple of years? I used to be able to finish off a flat in around three bites. Now, some of them things are monsters, and it can take six or seven bites to get through one. Perhaps we should also be considering the hormone-fueled aspects of these jumbo wings – I mean, what the hell does the breast look like one one of those big birds? Are they being bred specifically to have super sized wings? The mind reels at the possibilities; best not to think about such things – they’re just too damn tasty.

  2. July 30, 2014 11:21 am

    I agree. Eat well. Be happy!!! I enjoyed a plate of 10 (actually, got 11!) wings at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo two weeks ago. I ate them all. I did not share. My tights and cape didn’t fit that well the next day, but I was content. That will keep me happy in the wing department for many moons.

  3. July 30, 2014 12:10 pm

    Some things once seen cannot be unseen. I fear it is that way with your description of the fat content of wings. Dagnab you.

  4. MikeH permalink
    July 30, 2014 12:49 pm

    Daniel I notice you always mention Anchor Bar when you post about wings. Have you ever had their wings? Albeit the alleged inventor of the delicacy, in my opinion they are mediocre at best. Similar to an average takeout pizza joint wing. There are far better examples at many restaurants in Buffalo (and Albany). In fact the wings at the restaurant in my hotel near the Buffalo airport are far superior.

  5. Grrrr permalink
    July 30, 2014 5:18 pm

    I have finally found an at-home baked wing recipe where the technique is key for taste and texture and almost resembles the beloved deep fried version. If anyone cares….BOIL raw wings in salty water for about 10 minutes. Drain them and let them become completely dry. Then, season them with dry seasonings if you want, although not necessary. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees on a cookie sheet lined with foil and with a bit of cooking spray. I don’t remember the cooking time other then “until golden.” Have your favorite homemade wing sauce warm and ready for tossing. I’ve made them like this twice and didn’t miss the deep fried version I love. Best baked wings ever.

  6. August 8, 2014 12:41 pm

    Have you tried the “Noodle soup with spicy chicken wing” at Taiwan Noodle? For me, it’s close to the perfect wing preparation. Four piping hot crispy (outside) and moist (inside) wings sprinkled with five spice, and a bowl of home-made noodles and clear broth with bok choi. So much better than greasy basket with celery and “bleu cheese”. Pair with a side a cold wood ear mushrooms. A lunch that satisfies.

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