This Is Why Chicken Wings Are So Small

Of all the bar foods out there, one of the most popular — and one that you'll see on the menu at almost every sports bar across the country — is chicken wings. Whether they're breaded, coated in a tangy barbecue glaze, or doused in fiery hot sauce, wings seem to go best with a tall pint of ice cold beer and football (and a side of blue cheese or ranch for dipping, of course).

There's one thing, however, about chicken wings that confuses a lot of people: Why are they so small? After all, compared to a chicken breast or thigh, the flats and drumsticks are almost comically miniature. But before you go believing the myth that chicken wings are from baby chickens (spoiler alert: they're not), here's what you really need to know about the meaty appetizer and why wings are so much smaller than other parts of the chicken.

The small size is because chickens rarely use their wings

The reason why chicken wings are so small has to do with the chicken's anatomy and the function of the wing. According to Buffalo Wings & Rings, because many adult chickens can't fly, they rarely use their wings and thus their wings don't need to be very large or meaty, as opposed to the thigh, for instance, which supports the chicken's weight and is used every day all the time (via Chicken Wings Blog). Even the few chickens that can fly need wings that are lightweight and aerodynamic — hence the smaller muscle.

Note that the drummette that you get in a basket of wings is not the same as a drumstick (via Kitchn). People often compare the two, which is why they think that their "wings" come from baby chickens. The drummette truly is a part of the chicken's wing while the drumstick belongs to the chicken's leg, meaning  they're two totally different parts of the bird's anatomy.