National Chicken Wing Day
annually on July 29th (since 1977)
Hot, spicy, plain, sticky, or sweet, it seems Americans never have enough chicken wings to eat. In fact, they eat about 30 billion of them per year. Wings come in numerous flavors, such as lemon pepper, pepper parmesan, barbecue, honey mustard, sweet and sour, and garlic. They are often dipped in blue cheese, ranch dressing, or plum sauce, and are served with celery sticks and carrot sticks.
The most famous are Buffalo wings, which were invented in Buffalo, New York. Fittingly, National Chicken Wing Day was proclaimed by Buffalo Mayor Stan Makowski in 1977. Buffalo wings are deep-fried without any breading, and then coated or dipped in a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and melted butter. They are usually served with blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing, and with carrot sticks and celery sticks.
Buffalo wings were invented by Teressa Bellissimo at Buffalo's Anchor Bar in 1964. According to multiple stories, Teressa, who owned the bar with her husband Frank, deep-fried some wings for her son Dominic and his college friends, who had come into the bar hoping for a late-night snack. Before serving them, she tossed them with cayenne hot sauce and butter. Chicken wings had otherwise usually used for chicken stock at the bar, and according to some accounts, the bar had recently accidentally received a shipment of wings and had too many to know what to do with.
A different type of wings had already been invented—John Young opened Wings ’n Things on Jefferson Avenue the previous year, and served wings that were breaded and in tomato sauce. However, it was the style that was born at Anchor Bar that became known as Buffalo wings. Other nearby restaurants soon began serving Anchor Bar-style wings. One such place was Duff's Famous Wings in Amherst, which began serving them in 1969.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Buffalo wings gained in popularity as a bar food and appetizer, with their reach going across the continent and then around the world. Large chains that specialized in them, including Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters, opened in the early 1980s. The Buffalo Bills made four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl in the early 1990s, which had the unintended consequence of increasing the popularity of Buffalo chicken wings. On account of the Super Bowl trips, Domino's began selling Buffalo wings nationally, and Pizza Hut soon followed, which further increased the popularity of the food. Now there is even a holiday dedicated to eating chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday.
Today there are even chicken wing festivals, such as the National Buffalo Wing Festival. "Buffalo" is also now used to describe other foods besides wings, such as chicken fingers, chicken nuggets, and shrimp. Buffalo-style sauce or seasoning is used on other foods as well, such as on pizza and potato chips. But on National Chicken Wing Day, the focus is on wings, whether they be Buffalo wings or another kind.
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by eating chicken wings! There are many recipes you could try, but it may be best to make Buffalo wings just like those from Anchor Bar. If you are up for a trip, you could even eat wings at the Anchor Bar. There are other locations besides the original that you could stop at, and if you can't make it to one of them, you could even order some wings from them. You could also eat wings at a chain like Buffalo Wild Wings. There are many specials at restaurants today, so keep an eye out for them. Finally, you could also plan to attend the National Buffalo Wing Festival, which takes place later this year.