To coincide with Blenders launch of its new Hot Sauce, I thought that it would be interesting to tell the story of how chicken wings came to be one of the most popular dishes on menus globally.
The story goes that the first plate of chicken wings was sold in the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo. Although there are a few versions of the story knocking around, it’s widely reported that Teressa’s son arrived back to the bar with a few of his friends late one night looking for food after the kitchen was closed. All Teressa had was some chicken wings, which had been delivered by accident, and were due to be returned to the butcher the following day. She fried the wings and covered them in a spicy hot sauce and served them with a blue cheese sauce on the side. Her son and his friends loved them so much that they decided to add them to the menu. Or so the story goes.
The popularity of wings started to expand by the 1980s and were available on menus all across the US. It is unlikely that the idea or recipe came from just one person and was more of an evolution in culinary terms. It has been debated that chicken wings had been served in the illegal speakeasies in Chicago between 1920 and 1933 during prohibition. Even further back, during The Great Migration (1910s-1970s) when millions of African Americans started to move from south to north. Meat producers in Chicago at that time, and, in particular, the chicken processors, had no use for wings and they were mostly discarded. African American immigrants had a long tradition of barbecuing and used this opportunity to avail of a very inexpensive, if not, free food.
The use of a hot sauce also pre-dates Teressa in the Anchor Bar, with many references to a sauce developed in Chicago called Mumbo (also Mambo) Sauce. This was used in a bar called Argie B’s. It was a combination of ketchup, vinegar, sugar, and red peppers, blended together. It was bottled as a rib sauce but was primarily used for – surprise, surprise – Spicy Chicken Wings. However, there is no evidence to suggest that Teressa didn’t become the first person to pair chicken wings with blue cheese sauce and celery.
We put chicken wings on the menu in the Harbourmaster Bar in Dublin’s IFSC back in the early ‘90s when I was working there and they quickly became the most popular item available. So much so that every Friday as soon as the lunch service was finished, all the kitchen staff would start to prepare the wings for the evening menu. We would always prep around 14-15 stone weight of wings, 90-95kg in today’s money. We did have a few other items on the menu but we didn’t really sell anything else and always ran out of wings!
Here in Blenders, 33 years on for me, and we are delighted to introduce our very own Hot Sauce. It’s ideal for your Spicy Buffalo Wings. In addition, we also have a creamy Blue Cheese dressing or a Ranch Sauce to serve with the hot sauce. Check out the recipe page here on this website or follow us on Instagram for some more delicious ideas for how to use Blenders Hot Sauce.
Aidan McGrath, Blenders Business Development Chef.