Wingin’ it: a national culinary phenomenon

May 28, 2009

John Dorroh - [email protected]


I had a high school government teacher who often kiddingly told us, "Don''t mess with my money, and don''t mess with my food." I wondered what he meant back then, but I think I''ve long since figured it out. 


I, too, prefer that no one mess with my money or my food. Especially my wings. 


What is it about wings (and drumettes) that has made them the No. 3 all-time favorite snack food across the country? It''s not necessarily a primal guy thing either, because I have lady friends who can hold their own with any man in wing consumption. 




Variety galore 


Some wings are almost too spicy-hot to eat; others so mild that they''re not worth the effort. Some are basted and baked in a sweet, honey barbecue glaze; others strut a nutty teriyaki taste. And others arrive at your table served "nekid," seasoned and fried just right, then drained on a Viva paper towel. 


Hooters was one of the first establishments to tout wings with its very own special wing sauce. Buddies of mine used to go there just for the wings. ... Sure. 


Currently there are hundreds of chain restaurants and mom-and-pop establishments that prepare tons of wings and drumettes every day. The hungry public can''t get enough of them. Last year certain pizza chains began offering Buffalo-style wings as add-ons, and entire wing restaurants now pepper the landscape. 




Wings in Columbus 


My fellow Columbians and I have a healthy number of choices when our wing taste buds begin to quiver. Here''s a partial list of local restaurants that serve wings in a variety of styles and tastes: 




Fish, Wings & More is located on Highway 182 East in the old Potter''s location, between Subway and Hardee''s. The name of this business reflects the menu through and through. Fish, Wings & More probably wins the award in the area for "wing dedication," serving combinations and "packs" of wings in flavors such as lemon pepper, teriyaki and blue cheese. Of course there are fish selections and the usual sides of fries, onion rings and whatever else you want. Prices vary according to the number of wings in your order. 


Newbies at Harvey''s are often surprised at the amount of wings that come as an appetizer. "How will eat my entrée now?" is often heard when the platter arrives at the table. Perhaps if you see kitchen manager Bobby Martin there, he will prepare you a Jamaican Jerk concoction. (About $7) I always remember to tell my server at Harvey''s, "Run ''em through twice," which means they will come out crispy, just the way I like.  


Santa Fe, located behind Old Navy on Highway 45 North, offers two kinds of wings, and many customers have learned to order "half and half," half hot, half sweet barbecue. They arrive on a bed of tortilla chips, surrounded by strips of carrot and celery and with a choice of dip -- bleu cheese or ranch, the usual. (About $7) 


Ordering wings at Sey''s is a bit more complicated. You get to choose two flavors -- one for cooking the wings and another for dipping. I have eaten wings at Sey''s that were so hot that I continued to sweat for 30 minutes after consumption. Whew! (Prices vary according to the number of wings ordered.) 


Wherever you choose to satisfy your taste for wings, you are most assuredly joining one of the largest-growing snack clubs in the country. It''s become a culinary phenomenon. Maybe Columbus can host a wing competition in Riverside Park? 


John Dorroh is a semi-retired high school science teacher, who writes a business column for The Dispatch.