Despite price hike, football fans still flock to chicken wings
January 30th, 2013
10:30 AM ET
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No matter if they're honey-dipped, sauce-slathered, mild or volcanic, chicken wings will cost more for Super Bowl party hosts and pub patrons across America this year.

That's mainly because the most severe and extensive drought in 25 years blazed a path of destruction through the Midwest during the sizzling summer of 2012. It damaged and destroyed major portions of fields, caused crop prices to rise and created a domino effect on overall food prices.

“The prices of corn and soybeans went way up. That caused many of the [chicken growers] to cut back on production,” said David Harvey, an agricultural economist and specialist in poultry at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Corn and soybeans are "the primary components of chicken feed, and chicken feed is probably the single biggest cost of growing the chickens,” according to Harvey.

Harvey said that the average wholesale price of wings in the Northeast market is up 26% to $1.90 a pound in December, an increase from $1.51 this time last year. In supermarkets across America, that translates to an average of $1.48 per pound according to a recent Consumer Price Index, up 10.6% from what it was a year ago, according to Bureau of Labor and Statistics economist Ken Stewart.

Still, wing fans won't be deprived of finger-licking goodness on game day. While chicken production is down 139 million pounds, Harvey insisted there would not be a shortage of chicken wings for the showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.

Reports claiming there would be fewer wings available sent fans into a wing-snatching frenzy at supermarkets and tackling pre-orders from their favorite wing-centric restaurants. But while the fate of the 47th Super Bowl lies in the hands of the football gods, one thing seems certain: despite the higher cost, Americans will still get their wing fix on Sunday.

According to the National Chicken Council, Americans will consume 1.23 billion chicken wings during the game. The lobbyist group crunched numbers based on chicken production estimates, data collected from Nielsen reports on supermarket chains, and National Purchase Diary consumer reports, according to council spokesman Bill Roenigk.

Fans who "chicken out" on hosting super soirees, or simply don’t want the hassle, venture out to their favorite bar or wingery and fight to sit in their lucky seat.

Oscar Torres, manager of a popular Buffalo Wild Wings chain in New Rochelle, New York said, “We expect a more than usual crowd especially for the Super Bowl, as it’s one of the biggest sporting days of the year.” Torres said out of 16 flavors and five spices offered at the wing chain, the “Honey B” or honey barbecue, is the most popular.

“We already have over 40 pre-orders,” said Terry Mohamed. He's the manager of one of 20 New York City outposts of Atomic Wings, a chain named for their explosively spicy wing sauces that range from mild to “abusive,” “nuclear” and “suicidal.” His particular franchise sold 200,000 chicken wings during last year's Super Bowl.

The price of wings generally escalates around the Super Bowl, Mohamed explained, but not as much as it did this year, rising one whole dollar a pound. Customers were warned about the price hike, and while some complained, Mohamed said, “They just want to get their wings and get back to their football.”

New York Giants fan Greg Grasso has been serving up his own chicken wings at Super Bowl parties for over a decade. He plans to make as many as 150 wings this Sunday for his family and friends in his New Jersey home. On the menu are wings in five original homemade sauces; lemon pepper parmesan, French toast, wasabi teriyaki, mango chutney curry and “hot.”

When it comes to paying a higher price for wings, Grasso says he doesn't have much of a choice.

Grasso gave a play-by-play of his wing-making strategy. He dumps the wings into a fryer for 12-15 minutes, puts them in a pan, and slathers each wing with homemade sauce. Then he covers the pan with foil and bakes for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. His favorite is the French toast wing, undoubtedly a splendid blend of sweet secrets.

Could there be a Super Bowl without chicken wings? Grasso believes so. “There will always be one. It would just be less super."

Previously - Kate Krader seeks out the country's best chicken wings and Ray Isle pairs them with the ideal beers

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Filed under: Drought • Environment • Holidays • Super Bowl

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Chef's Corner

    "... dumps the wings into a fryer for 12-15 minutes..." And then he bakes them for 10 minutes on top of that???? Overkill much? 8 minutes at 375º is more than enough. Wings should be medium brown in color, not burned black. After EIGHT minutes in the fryer, take 'em out, dip in Hooter's style sauce (butter, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, garlic powder, black pepper) and it's a done deal.

    February 3, 2013 at 6:45 am |
  2. Mark F. Arena

    2 words: Artery Cloggers

    February 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Chef's Corner

      Two words: Chill out.

      February 3, 2013 at 6:46 am |
  3. Penelopanter

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    February 1, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • SpammersRGhey

      If I could, I'd report you for spamming, kick your a$s, then sue you afterwards.

      February 2, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Chef's Corner


      February 3, 2013 at 6:47 am |
  4. ChiTownArt

    This Shortage is brought to you by Buffalo Wild Wings...Wings, Beer, Profits....we mean Wings, Beer, Sports.

    February 1, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • gager

      Profits is not a dirty word. Do you work for nothing?

      February 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  5. dragonwife1

    Recipe please! Those sound tasty.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  6. taco bender

    cant wait

    January 31, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  7. MDK Grilled Cheese

    I like to make grilled cheese sliders with buffalo chicken, blue cheese, and cheddar baby!

    January 31, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  8. lance corporal

    I use skinless thighs, very cheap and the darker meat takes very well to hot sauce.
    (and you can keep all your fancy shmancy sweet sauces wings should be hot dammmit)

    the wings fried with skin on are too fatty, not even considering the weight gain potential but from a flavor pov
    it just starts to gross me out after a few and forget about giving the wife a celebratory romp later if your passed
    out on the couch from the fat trying to move in your veins.

    I lived to play football as a kid but left it behind and don't really watch all year but I watch every superbowl
    and do it up!

    go pats............. uh wait a minute......who's playin??
    aaaah never mind just pass the shrimp and hot chicken thighs, mmmmmmmmm

    January 31, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  9. Shawn

    Im going to make my "Wings" with chicken thighs. Bone them, cut em in thirds, fry em, then toss in a sauce. Just as good, for a quarter the price.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  10. MashaSobaka

    Paying for wings in a restaurant is one of the biggest ripoffs you can find. Restaurants pay pennies for them (since they get to buy them by the boatload) an charge you as much as a dollar apiece. Why anyone goes for it is just beyond me.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • gager

      In a free market the price is what the market can bear. You are not forced to buy anything.

      February 1, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  11. I would eat 100

    Madlibs anyone? ______________ (Plural – Occupation or Political Party)

    That caused many of the [chicken growers] to cut back on production,”

    January 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  12. Giggity

    Fat @sses

    January 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Chef's Corner

      Where your brain seems to reside.

      February 3, 2013 at 6:48 am |
  13. Joel Stowe

    Does everyone realize this thread is the first that is over 10 comments and there is not one negitve slam against another poster.

    January 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  14. Concerned Citizen

    I know that I am probably just wasting my time posting this because most of you are going to blow me off anyway but here is goes: I am sad that people are worried about whether or not they are going to get their chicken wings instead of looking at the deeper issue that's going on to cause this issue in the first place. There is scientific evidence that proves that CO2 emissions world wide are steadily increasing the global temperature. This means that there is going to be more and worse droughts in the coming years. Climate Change is not the hoax that big oil and other self interested parties would like the public to believe. What we are feeling now doesn't seem that bad, but in a few years there will be major temperatures increases, icecaps will melt away, killer storms are going to be worse then we've ever seen, and drought is going to increase food shortages. It makes me sad that this instead of what we should be thinking about and doing to fix the damage we are causing to make this sort of chicken wing shortage happen in the first place, we are lamenting over lost meat. The fact that news is broadcasting how panicked people are at the idea of not getting their chicken wings on Super Bowl day is ridiculous. If most people had any idea how the chickens they are eating are actually treated before they are slaughtered and dipped in BBQ sauce they might rethink how many of them they are eating anyway. Our nation has been sucked into the black hole of consumerism. We don't think about our actions and how they impact the whole picture. We just want everything right now, ready to go, regardless of who or what it hurts, and if we do recognize that some one or something is being hurt by our all consuming need to consume then suddenly it's someone else's fault or responsibility. Put down the chicken wings and wake up!

    January 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Jason I.

      I am not going to put down my chicken wings. Chicken wings are delicious. The end.

      January 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
      • marjee123

        Yes they are. But back in the 50 and 60's chicken wings were the cheapest part of the chicken (other than the back etc) I loved them. But after some one started calling them buffalo wings and charging a fortune for them every one wanted them.

        January 30, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
        • Jason I.

          That's fine! Food culture is constantly developing. We have the luxury of having a ton of ingredients and food options available to us compared to any other point in human history. and plenty of ingredients considered peasant food (such as lobsters, oysters, and corn meal) are now substantially more expensive due to demand. All of these things are still delicious and worth seeking out, however.

          January 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • i12bphil

      Serious question: Have you or anyone associated with you that shares in this belief ever accused someone else of "fear mongering"? My money says probably on a daily basis.

      January 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Bob C.

      The world can go to hell before I let go of my chicken wings.

      January 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • Nick

      I think I love you.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • VladT

      Why would big oil not want us believing in climate change have anything to do with Superbowl Sunday? Or is it because they are all part of the elite illuminati who hold you down and prevent you from succeeding?

      Anywhom, can't wait for my wings

      January 31, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • jan

      Thank you. Your post is important context to the great chicken wings eating party surrounding this sports/entertainment industry event.

      February 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Concerned Critic

      @ the Citizen, save your breath and hold it until you turn purple. you would have more of an effect on people turning purple than you would with that "2012" type argument. And by the way did you direct or script that movie? Wings or "Waaannnnggs!!", will never be discarded without being completely stripped of all meat that has been fried or sauced. Just think of it as wings have more of a difference in this world than your ridiculous tree hugging antics. And slaughtered or treated how ever you think they are, the bottom line is "they are effing delicious."

      February 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  15. kakakevin

    feel bad for anyone who thinks that buffalo wild wings are good

    January 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • vanbt7

      I feel bad for you and your undeveloped palate! Wings are amazing.

      January 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
      • Alex

        I feel bad for you. If you think chicken wings "are amazing" you never had good food in your life. Poor you.
        And yes, buffalo wild wings is disgusting, there are way better wings out there

        January 30, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
        • wing guy

          chicken wings are the best...dicknose...

          January 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
      • Nick

        They are referring to the chain restaurant, which as a wing fanatic, I can agree emphatically that it is disgusting. Learn to read.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • Chef's Corner

      Save your sympathy for someone that cares. Meanwhile, enjoy your tofu and alfalfa sprouts.

      February 3, 2013 at 6:49 am |
  16. MessaLOVEfoodz

    people Loooooove their salty,meaty snacks.

    And sometimes,it's not made from chicken.Then it's called 'chiken' or something. chikin weengs.No joke

    January 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Jason I.

      The costs associated with creating a textured mechanically separated meat product that has the same mouth feel, fat content, and structure would be far higher than plain old slaughtered chicken, and more pressingly is likely impossible with our current technology. If you mean the meat-like vegan and vegetarian substitute options available, those might passingly resemble the flavor and texture of chicken and other animal proteins but are mostly dietary substitutions that have different textures, ingredients and flavors and are sold at a premium. The fact is that if you're eating something that tastes like meat, whether it's a Taco Bell taco, a McRib Sandwich, or bad chicken wings, it's real meat, even if it is processed. Processed meats are certainly not good for you, but they are a far cry from the 'fake' chicken you're suggesting exists.

      January 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  17. LL

    Something to consider: SF, Balt, NO... don't spell wings, they spell crab-cakes, gumbo, and chowder in a sour-dough bread bowl. So open a bottle of Napa Chardonay and enjoy some crawfish etoufe, with a "charm city" cupcake for dessert!

    January 30, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Shawn

      Gross. Fish is over rated.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:05 am |
      • lance corporal

        fish is the greatest food on the planet and you have no taste buds so there

        January 31, 2013 at 12:46 am |
        • Chef's Corner

          "... so there..." Such a zinger. Gyrene. Figures.

          February 3, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • Chef's Corner

      Return from the 19th century.

      February 3, 2013 at 6:52 am |
  18. No Bills, No Wings...

    I remember 10 cent wings when they were Buffalo's little secret. Yup, ten of the best made wings for just a buck! Now I have traveled the country, and there are some darn good wings out there, but you still can't beat the wings made right here in Buffalo. I don't know.... maybe its psychological. And I ain't saying there aren't some bad wings makers here too.... but if you know where to go.... man o man...

    January 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Mike Eberle

      Duff's and the anchor bar. I am from buffalo and I agree the best wings ever in cold and snowy Buffalo Oh 70 today.

      January 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Wa Hoo

      It wasn't really that long ago that wings were given away for free at bars for happy hour. They were practically given away at grocery stores too, the prices were so low. Now they retail for as much copper, ounce for ounce. Heck, like copper, people are even stealing them now
      Lock your doors!

      January 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • kakakevin

      Dinosaur BBQ wings!

      January 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  19. Cnnlicksit

    Those wings look slimy and wet. Wings should be extra crispy with the sauce on the side to keep them that way.

    January 30, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • oof

      god no

      January 30, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Shawn

      You sir, don't know wings.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • lance corporal

      that sir is fried chicken.......

      it is not chicken wings

      January 31, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  20. sameeker

    The wings used to be the least desirable part of the chicken. then the marketers came along and convinced the sheep that this little sliver of meat was something to yell about. It is no mistake that the price increased at their biggest sale day of the year. If people had any common sense, they would not buy any and hang the producers with millions of tons of them. Corporate crooks need to be disciplined for their greed. We can get by without wings. Don't buy them this weekend and they will go down to 20 cents a pound next week.

    January 30, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Billy

      somebody needs a hug....

      January 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      No. Wings have never been the least popular part of the chicken, and have been eaten with gusto for millennia.

      Currently, the least desirable part of the chicken, at least from the consumer's viewpoint, is probably the feet. Although they make excellent soup.

      January 30, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • VladT

      Occupy eatocracy!

      January 31, 2013 at 6:39 am |
  21. smako

    Try other parts of the chicken, legs have more meat. How about meat balls? Any choice of sauce goes with meat balls. Go out on a limb and shake and bake some pork chops. Better yet, skip the wings and order pizza, WHO INVITED MARTHA STEWART ANYWAY?

    January 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  22. Buffalo_legs

    Those wings look so delicious...uhmmm....

    January 30, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  23. best wing sauce

    2 parts butter
    1 part Franks regular
    1 part Franks extra hot
    2 tablespoons Buffalo Wild Wings blazin

    January 30, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • dale

      do you cook them in this sauce, or is this just dipping sauce?

      January 30, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
      • Jason I.

        You don't cook buffalo wings in sauce. You either deep fry them, pan fry them, or oven bake them first, although deep frying is ideal. After they are cooked they are then tossed in the sauce and served immediately. Not to say that you can't cook wings in sauce, you can, but they wouldn't be hot wings.

        January 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  24. jeff

    The wings used to be like gizzerds, go figure.

    January 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Valerie

      I know, right?? : )

      January 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • groo

      When I was a kid and we prepared a whole chicken, we'd fight over who got the gizzard, heart and liver. They'll never be as popular as wings in a good sauce though.

      January 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  25. Pete

    Buffalo sauce was buffalo's gift to America. Certainly wasn't the Bills.

    January 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • smako

      It's just hot sauce, you can get it anywhere.

      January 30, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
      • Apatheist

        you can certainly get it in other places but quality hot wing sauce is hard to come by.

        January 30, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
      • lol

        Buffalo sauce is cayenne pepper hot sauce (like louisiana style hot sauce, NOT tabasco) with butter. Not just plain hot sauce, that sucks. The combination of it with butter is what makes it amazing.

        January 30, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  26. AleeD®

    Oh man! I'd eat that picture if I could figure out how.

    See, Jdizz? Wangs!

    January 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I don't see any Asian sauce and there better be some mothereffing Franks on dem wangs.

      January 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        ♫♫Moderated and it feels so good ♫♫

        January 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • Tara

        Franks is the only proper route to take when it comes to hot wings!

        January 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
        • Apatheist

          Frank's is the only way to go for hot sauce for wings or anything else. Frank's Extra Hot (think it may have been spelled Xtra Hot but not sure) was my go-to but I can't seem to find it anywhere these days.

          January 30, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • phearis

      Wings with spicy breading and slathered in Frank's Buffalo! I'm actually drooling thinking about them.

      January 30, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
      • Apatheist

        No breading!

        January 30, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Chris

      Right click, save picture as, print add salt and pepper for taste. Bon Appetit

      January 30, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
      • martini

        Now you're talkin'!

        January 30, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
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