This is probably the most recently developed food to make it to the Great American Things list. Buffalo wings weren’t created in the 19th century, or in the early part of the last century, but in the mid-1960s. And sure enough, they were created in Buffalo, New York, probably at the Anchor Bar on Main Street.
We’re not precisely sure which of the several stories about the dish’s creation to believe. But we know that the Anchor Bar’s Teressa Bellisimo is probably the first person to take deep fried chicken wings, slather them with a sauce made from butter and a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce, and serve them with blue cheese dressing.
For a while, buffalo wings remained a regional specialty. Folks who visited Buffalo usually made a visit to the Anchor Bar to try the originals, and other folks in town started making their own versions. Oddly, it took a major embarrassment for Buffalo – the Bills four consecutive Super Bowl appearances – to focus attention on the city and what makes it unique. Lots of publicity was given to the wings craze, and (as announcer John Madden might say) Boom! you had a national phenomenon.
Now it’s hard to find a restaurant anywhere in the country that doesn’t have some version of the buffalo wing on its menu. They’re now coated in Asian spices, barbecue sauce, Caribbean jerk, honey barbecue, spicy garlic, and who knows what else.
If you really like your wings, you’ll want to consider a trip to Buffalo its ownself for the Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival over Labor Day weekend. You can see the Running of the Chickens (don’t ask), a wing-eating contest, and of course, the Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant…