Why You Might Want To Order Boneless Wings For The Super Bowl

Buffalo wings are one of the most popular foods enjoyed during the Super Bowl. In fact, Americans are predicted to eat 1.42 billion wings this Sunday, per the National Chicken Council, which has made this estimate even though the price of chicken wings has risen by $.30 per pound. The wing price increase may not come as a shock, as shoppers saw rising grocery store prices through 2021. And while you may be paying more for your wings, the chicken council stresses that we are not facing a wing shortage.

Price fluctuations in chicken wings have been occurring even before inflation hit the headlines. The popular finger food soared to $3.22 per pound in 2021 before leveling off to a still uncomfortable $2.87 per pound. Bloomberg reported on February 10 that the price continued to dip down to $2.61, which is still higher than the pre-pandemic price. 

A large factor here is an anatomical limitation. Despite the advances made in science, chickens still only have two wings. So, some establishments have pivoted to dividing chicken breast meat and slathering it in buffalo sauce to make boneless buffalo wings. And even though a chicken only has one breast, it's much bigger than both wings combined.

Boneless buffalo wings will cost less

There is a certain irony that it might be more cost-effective to buy boneless chicken wings over proper ones.

The reason we associate chicken wings so closely with the Super Bowl is that it was once the less expensive meat. In the '80s, breast meat surged in popularity because it could be sold in prepared plastic packaging. The preparation of chicken breasts removed the wings from the meat, which meant that chicken meat suppliers had mounds of unsold wings. That is, they had mounds until bars decided to swoop in and purchase the cheap meat to serve to patrons watching the night's football game.

But now, that popularity was swung to the chicken wing, at least during football season. So the meat that was a cheap buy for sports bars is now pricing itself out of contention, while the ingredient that laid the groundwork for its initial popularity has become, what you could call, the alternative to the alternative. 

The case should not be overstated, as The Wall Street Journal notes, because chicken breasts themselves have doubled in price in time for the new year. And while boneless wings aren't actually chicken wings, restaurants know how much people will want to pick on something spicy and saucy during the big game.