The Reason Buffalo Wings Always Come With Celery And Blue Cheese

It's the same thing wherever you go. Be it a place that claims it has "the best wings in the state" or a local bar, your order of crispy, juicy buffalo chicken wings always comes with a side of celery and blue cheese. Why is it never something like carrots and ranch dressing or lettuce leaves and sour cream? Who sold the famous poultry dish first?

We must first go back to the origins of the buffalo wing itself. According to the lore provided by the National Chicken Council – yes, such a thing does exist — the buffalo wing was invented in Buffalo, New York, in 1964 at a tavern known as the Anchor Bar. Co-owner Teressa Bellissimo found she had some leftover chicken wings from the day's cooking and, deciding to not let them go to waste, fried the wings up and slathered them in hot sauce to serve to her son and his friends. The wings were so popular that they became a menu item the very next day. USA Today, however, reports that the buffalo wing was invented by John Young's Wings and Things in 1960, earlier than the Anchor Bar. 

Whichever story is true, it seems that buffalo wings were always served alongside blue cheese and celery sticks. What makes celery and blue cheese such an attractive combination? Maybe the answer lies in how different textures and flavors are able to complement one another and how some people are able to handle the heat better than others.

Celery and blue cheese complement the wings' flavor

According to Mental Floss, the idea of serving up blue cheese and celery sticks with buffalo wings comes courtesy of the Anchor Bar, one of the supposed inventors of the buffalo wing. The story goes that Teressa served up the hot wings with blue cheese and celery sticks simply because they were the nearest available sides, basically serving up some extra leftovers. What Teressa wouldn't have known was that this random combination actually had some benefits. The high water content of the celery and the cool tang of the blue cheese complemented the hot, greasy, and salty taste of the wings, keeping them from being too heavy or rough on one's digestive tract.

Blue cheese also helps to cool your mouth down, if you're a bit too sensitive to heat-based sauces. As Houston Methodist Leading Medicine explains, dairy-based products such as blue cheese contain a protein known as casein, which acts as a sort of "detergent" that washes away the oily capsaicin that burns your mouth. While water spreads the capsaicin around your mouth, much like how oil floats on water, milk-based products clean your mouth out and provide you some relief from the heat.

Whether you're making your own buffalo wings or ordering them out from your favorite place, it's always best to keep a few celery stalks and a bowl of blue cheese alongside you — just in case. You wouldn't want to make a simple mistake like not having them, would you?