Game 82: Anatomy Of A Bar Snack

Everyone eats them. There's even vegetarian versions. And some people eat them in terrifying amounts.

But where did the buffalo wing come from?

Like any good urban legend, there are several versions - and half of them come from the same source.

The Anchor Bar, supposedly the home of the Buffalo Wing, claims in the 'official' story that they were an invention of Teressa Belissimo, who owned the bar with her husband Frank. Supposedly her son and several of his college friends dropped in unexpectedly, and she needed to create a snack for them on short notice.

Another version, told by the aforementioned son, is that he was tending bar one night and wanted to do something for their Catholic patrons who couldn't eat meat on Fridays, so he asked his mother to make something that could be prepared and severed quickly after midnight.

Still another, from Frank Belissimo, is that the bar took a delivery of wings from their poultry guy instead of the backs and necks they normally used to make stock for their spaghetti sauce, and they needed to do something with them.

Like a fast food Rashomon, there's probably some truth to each story, but it's also just as likely that they can't keep their stories straight because there's also a far bit of fabrication - especially since a fourth origin has nothing at all to with them - an article in the New Yorker claims that a Buffalo restaurant called "John Young's Wings & Things" was serving Chicken Wings in "Mambo Sauce" several years before the Anchor Bar came on the scene.

Perhaps it's a cause of simultaneous evolution, and the Anchor Bar simply having better marketing (and the sense to try and co-opt some civic pride by claiming them to be "Buffalo style" wings), or it could very well be a case of the later arrival on the scene being able to grab the glory over the pioneer. (And let's face it - it's frying chicken wings, then coating them in a bunch of melted butter and hot sauce. It's not like that's rocket science. Any drunk guy left to his own devices in a kitchen will either make a sandwhich, or dump hot sauce onto things that probably shouldn't have hot sauce dumped on them.)

More amusing is the fact that at this point, the best known national joint to get Buffalo Wings at is Buffalo Wild Wings (AKA Buffalo Wild Wings & Wek, AKA BW3, AKA B-Dubs, AKA "I think I left my keys in the bathroom"). Where did they get their start?

Why, Columbus, Ohio, of course...

Subscribe to The Cannon

Don’t miss out on the latest articles. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only articles.