How ‘boneless chicken wings’ became a delicious culinary lie

NEW YORK (AP) — One day in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, a serious-looking man with long, buffalo sauce-colored hair takes to the podium to address the City Council in Lincoln, Nebraska during a public comment period. I went up. His unexpected topic as he framed it: It’s time to end the deception.

“As a city, I propose to remove the name ‘boneless chicken wings’ from our menus and from our minds.” both persuasive and ironic All at once. “We’ve been living with lies for too long.”

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, take a look at the hilarious lies that have been carried out on menus to chicken-consuming citizens across America (and generally to their blessings): Not chicken wings. “Boneless chicken wings” at all.

Chances are you already know that — but a spot check of the wing articulation over the past year (see what we did there) shows that a healthy amount of Americans do. But these little white meat nuggets, as tasty as they may be, depend on how things are marketed, how people believe it, and what it does. It gives us a glimpse of whether or not is important to anyone but chicken.

According to the National Chicken Council, this weekend, Americans will eat 1.45 billion chicken wingsSo, have you ever wanted to dig deeper into what it means to eat chicken wings that aren’t, and how chicken wings are closer to beer, good times, and football skyrocketed it? If so, now is the time.

Today’s food landscape is rife with these gentle scammers.

Surimi is the fish that effectively becomes crab or lobster meat for many of us, and the California star rolls across the land. baby carrot ’ or, to be a little more honest, ‘baby-cut carrots. Impossible Burgers are plant-based delicacies that have many of the characteristics of meat without being near an animal. And “Chilean Sea Bass”? Not a bus at all, but a rebranding of something called Patagonia’s Two Fish.

Part of the reason for the rise of “boneless wings” is money. As the price of actual chicken wings has risen in recent years, alternatives have become more cost-effective. The average price of cooked “boneless chicken wings” is $4.99 per pound, while bone-in wings cost $8.38 per pound. He calls it “a way to get more out of the boneless/skinless breast meat that continues to be in sufficient supply today.”

“Many chicken wing consumers claim that chicken wings need bones to give them a special flavor, but the continued success of boneless wings is a testament to the benefits of boneless wings. It proves we have a lot of diners,” Super said in an email.

why? One reason is that “Boneless Wings” (the quotes linger while we’re together) evokes a strong backstory.

“You can change the perception of a product by making it associated with the Super Bowl, party, and fun,” says Christopher Kimball, founder of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street.About food.

“Most people have no idea where this stuff comes from,” says Kimball. “You can blame food companies, but we buy them.”

We accept them — we accept them. And does it really matter? It’s delicious and convenient. So why plunge into what pairs perfectly with beer and makes the world of watching sports a better place?

Here is one possible reason: Aren’t they the epitome of the public’s willingness to accept something different than what they claim to be? Isn’t this what the country is fighting so hard for in a year when the economy is saturated?

“It’s not really wrong, but are we fooling people?” said Matthew Reid, who teaches advertising at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, after 20 years in an advertising agency. , wondered. He hosts a cooking show called “Spatchcock Funk” on local television.

“Chicken wings have gone from being an actual piece of chicken to just being eaten with your hands with some sauce,” he says.

“Boneless wings” have taken hold, whether or not they were cut from actual flight-related appendages. The Chicken Council, which believes giant chain Buffalo Wild Wings invented them, asked wing eaters what kind of wings they liked in 2018, and 40% joined Team Boneless. The previous year was even higher.

A chemical engineer by day, Christensen has been on his crusade for years. It started when he was in college, a group of his friends had all just broken up with their girlfriends, and suddenly they had money and time, so they made him go to Wing his restaurant three times a week. became. He began to notice how many “boneless chicken wings” had been ordered. A semi-comical cause was born.

“I look around and say, ‘Why doesn’t anyone care?'” he said in an interview this week.

He conducted informal research and described wing habits to people, including at a recent college football game in Ohio. Some think it’s part of the wing, some think it’s part of the thigh, and a small group of people realized it was from the chicken breast.”

His theory: A generation that grew up on chicken nuggets will turn to “boneless chicken wings” as a way of being able to continue their diet. will be,” he says.

Could the definition of the word “wing” itself change? Many chicken wings now offer a substitute for “cauliflower wings”, but the only relationship to actual chicken wings is the sauce. is. Also, some vegan “wing” recipes suggest inserting popsicle sticks into the cauliflower to get closer to the chicken bones.

“Our idea of ​​chicken wings comes from what we are told we eat,” says Alexandra, a professor at Hamilton College in New York and author of Thinking Through Food: A Philosophical Introduction. Plakias says.

“These little tricks look like a kind of normalization operation,” says Plakias. “Is the wing part of the bird, or is the wing a kind of sauce? And that ambiguity is where I think we open up room for deception.”

So perhaps the language is evolving, although some are skeptical.

“Personally, I think it’s important. You want to know exactly what you’re ordering and what’s in it,” says Natalie Visconti, 20, of Bridgewater, New Jersey. A sophomore at State University and a self-professed ‘traditional chicken wing’ enthusiast.

Christensen vowed to keep going, saying she was trying to be “the world’s first chicken wing lobbyist.” His efforts were despised. Both the right and the left have accused him of delivering coded messages about something political. He argues that it is nothing more than a quest for culinary truth.

“Honestly, I really only care about boneless wings,” he says. “I have one little hill to die for. But it’s mine.”


Ted Anthony, director of new storytelling and newsroom innovation at The Associated Press, has been writing about American culture since 1990.