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The History of Buffalo Wings

Buffalo wings originated in Buffalo, New York. The city has a long history of serving chicken wings that dates back to the mid-1800s at the Clarendon Hotel. Buffalo wings didn’t come around until the 1960s, however. The credit for their creation typically goes to Frank and Teressa Bellissimo, who began selling chicken wings that were fried, broken into pieces, and tossed in hot sauce at their establishment the Anchor Bar in the 1960s. By the 1980s, they had become famous for inventing Buffalo wings (it is worth noting that their recipe did closely resemble what we think of as Buffalo wings today). However, a Black restaurateur named John Young opened an establishment called Wings and Things in Buffalo, New York in the 1960s as well. Young served breaded, whole wings tossed in his own version of mumbo sauce. Notably, Young believed that Frank Bellissimo had gotten the idea for Buffalo wings from him. While Young is not credited for his contributions to Buffalo wing history nearly as often as the Bellissimo family, Young’s advocacy successfully helped him garner well-earned recognition for being the first person to open a Buffalo, New York restaurant centered around chicken wings. (It’s worth noting here that there were other early combinations of chicken wings and sauce being served elsewhere in America, most notably at the Black-owned Washington, D.C. restaurant Wings N’ Things, which served chicken wings in mumbo sauce in the 1960s, too.)  In the 1970s, more Buffalo restaurants began serving wings. Most were similar to the Bellissimo’s recipe in that they were fried, broken into pieces, and tossed in hot sauce. They were often served with bleu cheese dip and celery. It was also in the 1970s that Buffalo pizzerias began serving wings, creating the now-famous pairing of pizza and wings. In the 1980s, restaurants outside of Buffalo, New York began selling Buffalo-style wings. As Buffalo wings spread throughout America, they became associated with football (especially the Super Bowl) and they remain a classic game-day snack today.

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