Super Bowl Sunday: time to watch the two best teams in the NFL,
analyze outrageously expensive commercials and if you’re
hosting a Super Bowl, figure out how to feed the slew of friends
piling in your just-too-small living room. Assuming that you are
feeding a bunch of carnivores, chicken wings or buffalo wings are a
great solution. Small yet filling, messy and carpet staining (but
who really cares anyway, you’re only renting the house!)
wings provide a quick and easy solution for feeding the masses.
I scanned the menus posted on eatblue.com to identify the
businesses within the community that carry wings. To both simplify
the host’s responsibilities and for the sake of convenience,
the search was limited to those places that delivered. Pizza and
chicken wings go hand in hand on many menus, including Bell’s
Pizza, Domino’s Pizza, Hungry Howie’s,
Leonardo’s, NYPD and Pizza House. Mr. Spots was the only
non-pizza place to have wings.
Of these, I chose four, representing different price levels
(listed from least expensive to most expensive): Hungry
Howie’s, Bell’s Pizza, Mr. Spots and NYPD. To identify
the best wings, I assembled a group of friends and a blind —
well, almost blind — taste test.
Hungry Howie’s’s chicken wings had the slight
disadvantage of arriving when everyone was seated at my dining room
table eagerly awaiting the beginning of the tasting and, deciding
that they would be best savored in the piping hot state in which
they arrived, they were not subject to a blind analysis.
Howie’s’s breaded wings were salty, to the liking of
most, and pleasantly spiced, although a couple of tasters
complained that they were not hot enough. I was surprised by how
minimally greasy Howie’s’ wings seemed to be compared
to their fried counterparts.
Bell’s Pizza made it fairly easy to do a blind tasting as
their wings arrived in a nondescript brown paper bag sans a
Bell’s logo, and even the receipt stapled to the bag bore no
telltale markings identifying the company. If you’re only
ordering one order of chicken wings, this is not a concern, as you
probably remember from where you ordered. Things can get a little
more complicated if you’ve got food coming from half a dozen
After tasting the wings from Bell’s, it occurred to me
that maybe they don’t actually want customers to remember
that such sub-par wings had come from their establishment. Their
advertised “chicken wings: hot and spicy” were far too
dry and small, tasteless— clearly lacking a kick. My
experienced tasters had no trouble identifying Bell’s wings.
You get what you pay for.
NYPD’s chicken wings were salty and fried (definitely not
too dry), similar in texture to Hungry Howie’s, but they are
left unseasoned. This wouldn’t have been such an issue had it
not been for the disappearance of the accompanying hot sauce into
the deep depths of my kitchen, never to be found again. Over-priced
and very slow to be delivered, the wings were better than the wings
from Bell’s but not as good as Hungry Howie’s.
If appearance didn’t immediately give away Mr.
Spots’ wings, taste certainly did. Mr. Spots lived up to its
reputation for having the best wings in town, available
“really hot” with suicide sauce, “hot” with
original buffalo style sauce or “mild” with
Spots’ own recipe — and delivered with unrivaled speed
in 13 minutes.
The suicide wings were very spicy and tangy, burning my lips and
turning my mouth into an inferno but leaving me longing for more.
Bleu cheese dressing and celery garnished the suicide wings,
serving as fire extinguishers. One daring taster claimed that they
weren’t hot enough, insisting that he needed to be sweating
more … but perhaps he’d had too many beers by that point in
the exercise. Mr. Spots’ BBQ wings had a different appeal,
however, sweetly contrasting with the fire of the suicide wings.
They met approval but some wouldn’t choose an order comprised
solely of BBQ wings. This, however, raises a fundamentally divisive
question: salty or sweet chicken wings?
After declaring Mr. Spots the clear winner, a few tasters
yearned for more. Spots’ wings are available in various
quantities: one half dozen for $3.85, one dozen for $7.50, two
dozen for $14.95, or fifty wings for $28.00.
Concerned about cost? Start off with the suicide wings, allow
your friends to incinerate their taste buds, rendering them unable
to distinguish between the winner and the losers. Additionally, by
the second half, and a few beers later, your guests might not be as
discerning as they once were. Either way, you could probably serve
inferior wings after half-time.