The Debated Origin Story Of Buffalo Wings

Almost six decades old, Buffalo wings have earned a fan base rivaled by few other foods. From dry-rubbed to extra saucy, chicken wings have become iconic as an appetizer, tailgate food, and as a Wednesday night restaurant special. Heck, there are even restaurants whose main focus is wings. While the original wing sauce may have been spicy, many more have been created in recent years, such as garlic parmesan, teriyaki, and sweet barbecue that offer a little sweetness.

But, the go-to for many is the fiery red original Buffalo sauce served with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping with a side of celery. While we know the year Buffalo wings were created (1964) and the city of origin (Buffalo, New York), as well as the creator (Teressa Bellissimo), it's up for debate exactly why the pieces of chicken first got coated with sauce and sold as a finger food.

Ingredients on hand

The first story about why Buffalo wings were created goes that Bellissimo decided to cover chicken wings in a special sauce she had created and serve them to guests at her business, the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. The wings had been delivered by mistake when chicken necks had been ordered to make spaghetti sauce. With her specially sauced wings, Bellissimo served a side of blue cheese and a celery stick. It's said she put this plate of food together because that's what she had in the bar's kitchen. At the time, chicken wings were generally used to make soup stock and not served by themselves, so this was an unusual creation. 

The other story from Bellissimo's son claims that his mother made the wings for him as a late-night snack after he went to the Anchor Bar with friends. Whether Teressa used the wings she received by mistake to make her son and his friends a snack or these two stories are unrelated, we will never know for sure.

Now with 14 locations around the country, Anchor Bar serves its chicken wings with a variety of sauces, although the original sauce, made of cayenne pepper, vinegar, garlic, margarine, and other secret ingredients, is close to what is considered "medium" today at most bars and restaurants. No matter why they were created, Buffalo wings, or simply chicken wings in Buffalo, N.Y., have become a finger-licking menu staple.