INGWI: For the Love of Wings

I went live on my Twitch channel for the first time in months for a live episode of Hyphen Nation. The episode itself was released last Sunday but you can check out the replay right now (and follow me if you’re into that).

I also figured out how to vertical stream to my Facebook page so I’m going to be doing that periodically as well.

Cowboy ranch wings at Mario’s Fishbowl Richwood, summer 2021.

I know this sounds crazy. I don’t remember having my first wing until 2001. I went to Ruby Tuesday’s in Winchester, Virginia with my dad. I don’t remember where we stopped before but I had Amazing Spider-Man #30 (so sometime in April) in my grasp when we went in.

I didn’t know what I wanted to eat so dad suggested buffalo wings to me. Now, I have a very adventurous palate, so I’ll try anything. Normally, when we would go out to eat, I’d have a steak sometimes, maybe a burger or sandwich. But never buffalo wings.

We ordered and I cracked open my comic.1

A short time later, I had a plate of maybe 6 or so wings in front of me with blue cheese and celery. Ruby Tuesday’s isn’t known for wings now and it wasn’t then, so these came off the appetizer menu.

If I could shake the cook’s hand right now, I would. These were hot, the perfect amount of flavorful sauce (it was my first experience with buffalo sauce too), and crispy (a key cog in how I like my wings that I didn’t realize until E always ordered his extra crispy). And the blue cheese was the perfect dipping sauce. I was floored. I was emotional.

I was hooked.

When I moved to Morgantown in 2003, I discovered Buffalo Wild Wings. My naïve mind couldn’t comprehend a restaurant solely based on chicken wings. I soon became a connoisseur of an 18 piece with medium sauce, celery, and blue cheese.

Tuesdays were .35 wing night, so on flush weeks, Angel and I were joined by friends so I could attempt to take down as many as I could in a sitting (boneless for her). We would play the Buzztime trivia with some other competitors while we waited on our order or in between bites. I always kept one finger clean so I could answer my questions.

I turned 21 the following year and I was allowed to consume in public. To this day, there’s nothing that goes better with wings than beer. I’ve tried everything else and they don’t compare. I used to drink Bud Light but switched over to Blue Moon the first time someone dropped an orange slice in one.

Wing Do Not #1: Don’t give me a plate of wings and then expect me to sit down and watch a gory movie/show. I had made some Tyson’s wings when I was roommates with Steve and then sat down to rewatch Freddy v. Jason. The tearing of chicken and skin while there’s people having the same thing done to them is too much. No thank you.

For many years after this, wings could do no wrong. I had low standards. I’d eat wings anywhere and swear they were delicious every time. Again, naïve.

In the summer of 2007, I moved to an area of Morgantown called South Park. I was still making an attempt at school and working at the college radio station, U92. I ventured downtown one Monday night and read a sign outside of The Sports Page for .25 cent wings. These were the cheapest I had partaken of yet and these wings blew BW3s away.

Every time I had a little money on a Monday, you could find me in the Sports Page, eating wings, drinking beer, and watching Monday Night Raw since the crowd was sparse.

I was actually watching Raw at the Page the night Vince returned from the dead to announce what happened to a certain double murderer who died by suicide. I watched a tribute show in his name. The real truth came out on Tuesday.

Wing Do Not #2: Ask me to make wings. I made multiple attempts during lockdown and they never came out right. Air fryer, oven, grill, etc. I can’t get them right. It doesn’t mean I plan to quit but have you seen the price of chicken lately? Let me make the sauces.

You know who makes the best wings? My friend E. What he can do with a deep fryer and a little time is incredible. He almost has his air fryer wings perfected and I can’t wait to have those at some point.

My go-to on the down low though was when Martin’s Bar-b-que Joint was still in town. I could go on my 45 minute lunch, order 18 smoked wings with the dry rub, have them within 10 minutes, go back to work to eat, and still have time left over to wash my hands after I finished them off. The dry rub was excellent, the wings crispy, and the chicken was falling off the bone.

I really miss those wings.

Other wings I have to mention:

  • Kegler’s and their Gold sauce. And I rarely have wings from Kegler’s that miss, by the way.
  • Bucket sauce. Oh my goodness it’s so good. I think I last had it when JW Thirsty’s was a thing.
  • Mario’s Fishbowl and their cowboy ranch. I normally opt for the hot garlic, extra crispy, extra saucy. I know they got them right if the box is soaked through with sauce when I get them home. My current favorite.
  • Corona wings from Sabraton Station. The only bone-in wings Angel will eat.
  • Fat Angelo’s has a surprisingly good hot garlic as well.
  • Mountain Mama’s. Oh, I didn’t forget. Their wings are breaded so I don’t go too often depending on how low carb is going but another place that knows how to make wings. And get the fried green tomatoes too.

Wing Do Not #3: Hooters. If you really think the wings are good at Hooters, you might just like boobs. It’s okay. I like boobs too but they’re not distracting me enough to be happy with some mid product. I’ve been twice, both times on the boardwalk of Ocean City. They’re wings are okay. Sauce is good though. So get something else and a side of their sauce. But Hooters doesn’t have good wings. Just good distractions.

I didn’t even know drums versus flats was a real thing until a few years ago. I was just so happy to have wings, I didn’t care what shape they were in.

But I did prefer drums.

As my standards for what I’m looking for in a wing got higher, so did my need for sauce. I love a good dry rub. But when I get sauce, I want to taste the sauce. Don’t cook it in the sauce. Cook the wing first, then toss it in the sauce. I want my fingers to be a mess; eating wings is not easy and clean.

I then started realizing there was only so much room on a drum for sauce. But a flat could become the perfect scoop for all the sauce you need in a bite.

I’m not ordering strictly flats because it’s extra and if they forget I’ll be annoyed. But I usually eat my drums first now so I can savor the flats.

I want to send a shout to KFC wings which just came back to the menu. I haven’t had them since their return but their wings with the secret recipe and either honey BBQ or hot in my early 20s didn’t miss.2

But if you want to have delicious wings without having to order a ton of them that will be crispy and perfect every time? Chinese chicken wings. I’ve never had a bad one. Their whole but they’re so good. And mumbo sauce. Or sweet and sour sauce. But for real, eat them with mumbo sauce if you’re one of the lucky ones.

I ate BW3s wings the other day because the homie DJ Hollywood posts wings damn near every day and I broke down and got some after work. I didn’t go to my preferred location and I rarely take out from there, so I was disappointed.

I didn’t love the last batch of wings I had in person during football season though. Which leaves me with one conclusion:

Buffalo Wild Wings makes better smash burgers than wings now. I didn’t think this day would come.

You should try their burgers though.

Item! This week’s Rasslecast featured the talent @HiiGabii! Make sure you check out her wrestling work on TikTok.

Item! The episode of Hyphen Nation I mentioned at the start has been out since Sunday.

Item! Dope! returned with three new videos this week! Here’s the one I did for Window Shopper.

  1. For those following at home, I turned 18 January 22, 2001. Don’t ever question my nerd authenticity.
  2. I really was trying to figure out where else I got wings from and it just hit me.

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