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Buffalo Wings

Blessed Art Thou Who Eat Buffalo Wings

By Eric Vinje, Cosmic Chile

We can thank Mother Teressa for Buffalo chicken wings.

No, no, no. Not that Mother Theresa, the nun known for helping the poor and dying in India.

This Mother Teressa hailed from Buffalo. She is the patron saint of those who crave a hot, flavorful snack also known as Buffalo Wings - those spicy chicken wings that come with celery sticks and Bleu Cheese dressing.

While most people agree on when Buffalo Wings were created - 1964 - and where - The Anchor Bar, then owned by Teressa and Frank Bellisimo in Buffalo, NY - there are several different versions on how buffalo wings came into being.

The most popular story has Teressa making Buffalo chicken wings as a late night snack for her son Dominic and his friends. She was just about to make chicken stock with a bunch of wings and instead turned them into a snack by broiling them and then sprinkling them with hot sauce and serving them with some celery sticks off the bar's antipasto plates and using the bar's bleu cheese dressing as a garnish.

Teressa, her husband and her son have since gone on to their final rewards, but Dominic told Calvin Trillin a different version, which Trillin wrote up in the New Yorker magazine in the 1980s. In Dominic's version, he wanted to do something for his patrons on a Friday night. Many of the folks in the bar were Catholic and back in the 1960s couldn't eat meat on Fridays. So Dominic asked his mom, Teressa, to devise a snack, which she did, then served it at midnight when the meat fast was over.

Teressa's husband Frank told yet another version of the tale. In this one, the bar got a delivery of chicken wings instead of the backs and necks needed to make the bar's spaghetti sauce. The chicken wings were cheap - back in 1964 they cost five cents per pound - and Teressa ended up creating buffalo wings because of the wrong delivery.

No matter how they were created, buffalo wings today mean unbreaded chicken wings, deep fried and coated in a cayenne pepper sauce to which butter and vinegar have been added. Many restaurants serve different "heat" levels for buffalo wings including mild, medium, hot and suicidal. The more butter added to the sauce the less spicy it is. Unless they make their own, most restaurants and bars use cayenne hot sauces as the base for their spicy Buffalo wing sauces.

According to buffalo wing ordering protocol, a "single" order is 10 wings, a "double" is 20 and a "triple" is 30. They can also be ordered by the "bucket" in quantities of 50 or more.

To this day you can still visit the Anchor Bar in Buffalo and order up some buffalo wings. (Nearby Duff's just outside of the Buffalo City limits is also known to have great Buffalo wings.) Reportedly, many celebrities and politicians including Vice President Mondale, First Lady Hillary Clinton and Los Angeles Dodgers Coach Tommy Lasorda, have all ordered buffalo wings from the Anchor Bar when in the upstate New York birthplace of the Buffalo chicken wings.

Buffalo chicken wings are also a staple at many bars and restaurant chains including Hooters, TGIFs, Bennigans and so on. Many pizzerias including Dominos and Pizza Hut have them on the menu. Even KFC - formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken - has gotten into the game. Many serve traditional Buffalo wings, but there are many derivations, including some with Asian soy sauce or other non-spicy marinades.

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