Monday, September 27, 2004

The Merits of Chicken Wings

In an effort to cover all topics that The Investment Linebacker finds of remote interest, while still trying to avoid posting his first true rant (may they be few and far between), we thought reposting a Yahoo! IM conversation we had could provide insight into the kinds of things that one could expect to find on The Investment Linebacker's Blog. Other than the names or where denoted with brackets, the following has not been edited:

TTB (Terry Tate Buffett): Chicken wings and their various pros and lack of cons could easily be a topic.
CK (TTB's friend): dry rub vs. good on bbq
TTB: I suppose the only con is not getting to eat them [often] enough and that I'm not sure any food that's not good cold as well really gets into the pantheon (excepting for fine foods).
TTB: sure, dry rub vs bbq could easily take up a week's worth of discussion
TTB: pizza's good cold, fried chicken, chinese, various pastas, sandwiches, etc. Those also are good reheated, which is not a strength of wings.
CK: They are time sensitive
TTB: Frankly, I should cut and paste this and save it as a draft. I see a future blog thought for sure.
TTB: Precisely, time sensitive.
CK: Ha
[end of cut and paste from IM]

Clearly, wings are a fantastic bar food. We don't think any rational person will argue that. Perhaps some hippees that don't think slaughtering millions of baby chickens (or, as we like to say after our meal is over, "yum, another baby chicken holocaust") so that we can enjoy their tender, fried pieces is just, but we brush those opinions aside as noise. If you've ever had a good buffalo wing, you will understand that it is part of God's design to have us eat them.

The merits include (not necessarily ordered by importance):
1) They are very customizable. By this we mean that you can customize the order size very easily depending on your appetite. Not very hungry? Order five. Very hungry? Order 20. You can also customize the flavor. Any self-respecting wing-joint will offer a dozen or more flavors that can each be made more or less spicy. This also gets to CK's dry-rub vs. BBQ point: The flavors don't just vary by taste, but by texture. It's a reward for all five of the senses. The variety allows the kids to have something different from the wife who has something different from the husband. Plus, the mix and match potential is enormous. We haven't calculated particularly complex permutations and combinations since we were 15 taking Algebra II/Trig, but we're fairly certain that even if we cap the total number of wings allowed in an order at 20 and the minimum of any style at 5, you've got thousands upon thousands of combinations. If we add in the dipping sauces (or lack there of) as another variable, well, you see where we're going.

2) Dipping sauces. As alluded to in point #1, all wing joints offer dipping sauces. 49 out of 50 times, these are limited to ranch or bleu cheese. No heterosexual man should order ranch. Bleu cheese is certainly the preferred choice. Some supposed tough guys claim that anything that requires dipping sauce isn't a worthwhile food. We counter that a good wing doesn't require bleu cheese, but it benefits from bleu cheese. Then again, Tostidos don't require salsa or queso, but... Pizza doesn't require ranch or garlic butter sauce, but... French fries don't require ketchup or mayonaisse (yes, mayonaisse), but... You see where we're going here. A handful of great foods benefit from condiments.

3) Finger licking good. Wings are finger food. It's very primal. You pick up a miniature chicken wing or drumbstick, insert the entire thing in your mouth (or, if you are a girl you nibble it like corn on the cob) and literally rip and suck (simultanesouly, mind you) the flesh from the bone. What is more manly than that? An added benefit is if you're sitting with a woman, you get to watch her lick her fingers clean. You obviously know what we mean by this and why it's a desireable thing or you wouldn't have made it this far into a blog about wings.

4) Accompanied by sports. 90% of the time, wing-joints double as sports bars. This is totally self explanatory.

5) Gas. Most great foods cause it. If that were the only standard for being a great food, wings would be right up there with spicy bean burritos.

1) The only true con that we've identified, though CK expressed it more clearly than TTB, is that they don't have staying power (or, as CK said, they are "time sensitive"). Wings really must be consumed while still hot from their original cooking. The longer they've been on your table, the less desireably they are. Don't even think about making the mistake of taking them home and reheating them; it just wasn't meant to be. Eat them piping hot. One caveat to this is that if you are hosting a party and order several hundred wings, you can set your oven to some warm temperature (say 200 degrees, though please consult a lady first) and extend the life of the wings. However, this must be done BEFORE the wings get cold. Once they get cold, they literally go through a physical transformation which causes shriveling (not too dissimilar from what happens to TTB when he gets cold, frankly) and the skin becomes chewy. This transormation cannot be undone. We cannot stress this enough. Throw cold wings away.

Wings are a remarkable food and are well worth your time, but they don't make it into the pantheon of foods because they have such short staying power. No cheap food should be allowed to get by with low staying power. Filet mignon? Sure. Chicken wings? No.

Great bar food, but not great enough to crack the pantheon.


Hatch said...

For an investment guru you forgot the best part...The guy that invented them was a friggin' genius. Hell he took a part of the chicken that was loved only by crabbers and dog food makers and transformed into a remarkably customizable and.....very profitable food that has tremendous operating leverage for increasing the amount of beer consumed for both spice and gut filling reasons (get drunk slower). Hell if the wing can make it why not the neck or that fatty little thing on the chickens butt. I can see it now deep fried, spicy ranchero chicken butt smothered in blue cheese (totally agree on the man card thing with the sauce TTB).

Keep up the good work.

Terry Tate Buffett said...

Thanks for the feedback. You are right. The inventor is a genius.