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When Wings Don’t Fly

November 3, 2017

This is not about what is happening at The Ruck. I love The Ruck. But the return of Wing Night to The Ruck highlights a larger trend which Deanna Fox wrote about recently. Chicken wing prices are on the rise.

Yawn. Prices are rising. What else is new. Is water still wet?

Which is why I want to bring The Ruck into this, because here is a place in Troy that has built a significant reputation on the strength of its wings. Of course these days it’s also an amazing craft beer bar, and the kitchen will indulge your over-the-top gluttonous food fantasies with its “Fat Kid Style” add ons.

You can follow how the newest iteration of The Ruck’s Wing Night was received on its Facebook page. But one thing that’s revealed deep in the comments was that Wing Night at The Ruck used to mean free wings on Fridays. For those who remember the glory days of the past, the $1 a wing special on Wednesdays seems far less special.

So what I wanted to discuss today is what happens next?

One of the defining characteristics of buffalo wings is that they were cheap. In fact, they were so cheap that some bars were able to give them away for free. Sure, wings are also tasty and go well with beer. But they became effectively a more enticing form of cocktail peanuts.

Part of the reason for the low price of wings is that nobody wanted them.

These little flaps of bone and skin and precious little meat on them. They were routinely cut off and tossed as scrap, like the necks and feet. But then someone discovered you could fry them, toss ’em with Frank’s Red Hot, and butter. Flash forward a few decades, and these junk parts have became a national sensation.

And now, they come at a cost premium. A whole raw chicken at Wegmans will set you back $.99 a pound. Raw wings of the same quality at Wegmans cost $2.79 a pound. It’s the drumsticks that are the relative value at $.79 per pound.

Wings have gotten crushed under the weight of their own popularity.

For some, the idea of paying a premium for wings is unthinkable. They just won’t do it. And while I do love a good wing, for me they have always been a buffalo sauce delivery device. So I’m just as happy with buffalo tots as I am with buffalo wings. Heck, I’d even go for buffalo chicken feet.

Although, given the appeal of the drumette piece on the wing, I’m kind of curious why I haven’t seen a spike in bars working on their buffalo chicken drumsticks. The Korean fried chicken at Bon Chon has mastered the art of turning drumsticks into the most glorious experience of shatteringly crisp fried skin surrounding tender and succulent meat.

Maybe it’s time for a domestic version that applies the flavors Americans have grown to love. But if you have other ideas for what comes next, I’m all ears.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2017 10:50 am

    Buffalo drumsticks. Absolutely no brainer. BTW last time I ate at Bon Chon (in Cambridge) the wings were still wings so looks like they’re ahead of the curve.

  2. November 3, 2017 12:25 pm

    Drums are too much meat. The main fun of eating chicken wings is in the fact that you are eating many of something. 1 or 2 drums is a meal and a commitment to a hearty amount of protein. Also, the skin to meat ratio would be off if you were looking for the “TM Chicken Wing Experience.” You would need flour/batter/breading to compensate. And that, my friend, is why god gave us fried chicken. Throw Franks on some southern fried drums if you must.

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