On Oct. 30, 1964, Frank and Teressa Bellisimo were close to closing time at the Anchor when their son, Dominic, showed up with several of his college friends. They were almost out of food, so she served celery sticks and bleu-cheese dressing to tie them over and deep-fried wings.
Pizza was the obvious winner in the Super Bowl foodie sideshow. A distant but strong second were chicken wings. This once-lowly junk meat has legs in the TV food arena.
Our ancestors would laugh at us. It wasn’t until the 1960s that wings got their due. Before then, they were used exclusively for stock or, more likely, thrown away. A few markets sold them at almost give-away prices –– 15 cents a pound sticks in my mind.
The wing deserved its grisly reputation. It’s mostly bone and cartilage with but a hint of meat. The edible portion can be less than 20 percent of their weight.
There’s a lot of mythology on who got the notion to deep-fry them, almost as many inventors claimed it as the number of those who claimed the hamburger. The stories are kept alive in newspaper cooking columns. The one I like best, because it’s relatively verifiable, centers on the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y. Hence “Buffalo chicken wings.”
On Oct. 30, 1964, Frank and Teressa Bellisimo were close to closing time at the Anchor when their son, Dominic, showed up with several of his college friends. They were almost out of food, but Teressa did have some chicken wings she used for soup stock.
She served celery sticks and bleu-cheese dressing to tie them over and deep-fried the wings. Then she dusted them with cayenne pepper. The kids went nuts.
Teressa deserves an award from the Chicken Growers of America. She converted their junk meat into a profit center earning more than $5 a pound; imagine that!
The Bellisimo family sticks to the story like so much chicken breading. Calvin Trillin in the New Yorker magazine reported John Young served fried wings with his “Mambo” pepper sauce about the same time. He renamed his restaurant Wings ‘n Things before moving. Now there are ‘wingeries’ of that name all over the country.
It sounds like the perfect bar food was an immaculate conception. As with many snack foods, including nachos, Buff wings were borne of necessity. They put the Anchor on the map and nearly replaced snow as the city’s namesake.
They get a good press. Teressa fried wings on the “Today” show in the 1980s. When the Buffalo Bills appeared in four straight Super Bowls from 1990 to ‘93, wings and football were permanently linked. Anchor more recently won “Food Wars” with wings on the Travel cable channel.
P.S. Eaters may be tempted to believe wings are low in fat. Not so. A 3.5-ounce deep-fried wing has 11 grams of fat and 210 calories.
Oven-Fried Chicken Wings
Heat oven broiler. Trim off wing tips and cut wings into two sections. Melt butter in large saucepan and add hot sauce and vinegar, remove from heat.
Brush oil on both sides of wings and place on broiling rack. Broil 15-20 minutes, turning once. Toss wings in sauce.