National Chicken Wing Day: History of the New York State food icon

NY News
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The national day celebrating all things chicken wings has a local history.

National Chicken Wing Day, or July 29, was first proclaimed in 1977 by Buffalo Mayor Stan Makowski. To date, Buffalo New York is the official birthplace of the chicken wing and is referred to across the country.

But, believe it or not, chicken wings were created on accident. According to the National Chicken Wing Day website, Teressa Bellissimo first created the chicken wing at the Anchor Bar, which she owned with her husband Frank. At the time, chicken wings were only reserved for soup stock.

One night, her son and some of his college friends asked Teresa one night for a late-night snack, and as she wanted a fast and easy dish, she deep-fried some chicken wings. She then tossed them in butter and hot sauce and naturally, they were an “instant hit.”

However, the Bellissimo’s were not the only Buffalo restaurant to realize this dish’s potential. Nearby, John Young has opened Wing’n Things on Jefferson Avenue in 1963. Young’s wings however were breaded and dressed in a tomato-based sauce.

A few years later, the City of Buffalo declared July 29 Chicken Wing Day, which is now known nationally. Later in 2002, Food Ambassador, and “Wing King” Drew Cerza founded the National Buffalo wing festival. Cerza is now known as the wing emissary for this food icon and was named “Buffalo Citizen of the Year in 2003.

Many other foods are now labeled with Buffalo-styled sauces. This includes chicken fingers, shrimp and pizza. There are also many flavors of prepared wings available besides the original hot Buffalo. Buffalo sauce is also used in many popular dips, snacks and more.

Wing lovers also now enjoy barbeque, lemon pepper, pepper Parmesan, garlic, sweet-and-sour and honey mustard, as well as many unique flavors.

One thing is for sure, New Yorkers, and Americans alike, love their chicken wings.

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