The History of Chicken Wings

Some might say nothing is more American than apple pie, but ladies and gentlemen, I daresay that chicken wings might just be. While apple pie has been around a bit longer than the 50 states, chicken wings were born and breaded here. Ha! Well, they aren’t actually breaded, but these delicious deep-fried bites of chicken are good. So who was the genius behind this American favorite? Well, depending on your source, it’s not who but how it came about that is a bit unknown. While its creation has been debated, here are a couple of theories that have stood the test of time on the history of chicken wings.

The “Buffalo” Version

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Most people do attribute the invention to Teressa Bellissimo of Buffalo, New York. In fact, this may be where the name ‘Buffalo Wing’ came from. There are two tales of how she came to create the chicken wing. First, it is said that due to a mistake in delivery. In 1939, Teressa and her husband founded the Anchor Bar. In a fateful day in 1964, they accidentally got a wrong shipment of chicken wings. Because she didn’t want them to go to waste, she cut them up and deep-fried them. Teressa also covered them with hot sauce, then served them with the famous sides of blue cheese and celery.

The second version of this tale started with a late-night snack for her teenager son and his friends. Teressa found some extra wings in the fridge and thought that they might taste good fried in chili sauce. So, she fried them up and served them with some blue cheese sauce for dipping. The blue cheese took some of the heat away from the chili sauce.

No matter what version you believe, it became a hit! Their restaurant and bar still stand and serve the “original Buffalo chicken wing”.

Another Claim to Fame

Those two theories still say Teressa invented the chicken wing. However, let’s not forget John Young. He said it was a common dish for him growing up and he said he actually started serving it at his restaurant before the Anchor Bar. At John’s restaurant, he routinely prepared and served a special mambo sauce alongside his chicken wings. And, while this story is shorter and a little less detailed, Young’s Wings ’n Things did start serving wings in the mid-1960’s. Most people agree that chicken wings were born in the south, but the Buffalo sauce came from the north. What other food can say it’s both southern and northern? Chicken wings. Some other fun facts:

  • There is a chicken wing eating contest in Buffalo every year. The current title holder is Sonya Thomas, who holds the record for eating 183 wings at the U.S. Chicken Wing Eating Championship.
  • Hooters sells an estimated 30 million pounds of chicken wings each year.
  • While most people outside of Buffalo, NY call them Buffalo wings, the locals in Buffalo simply refer to them as chicken wings.

Whichever story you agree with, the outcome is the same. The chicken wing is still one of the tastiest snacks around. So, the next time you find yourself enjoying some chicken wings at Adam’s, you can remember the history of chicken wings. Try any of our special wings including spicy wings, gator wings, smoked wings, hot wings, and boneless wings.