Chicken Wings, the New Chicken Breast

As the economy continues to struggle, strange things are happening in markets that usually don’t see a lot of change–like the chicken wing industry.

Chicken wings, for a long time the red-headed step child to the chicken breast, has recently become the most expensive chicken part at wholesale prices–largely due to high demand, as many wing chain restaurants (Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters,  etc) have seen strong growth despite the down economy–apparently as wings are considered a cheap luxury.

In September, average wholesale price for a pound of wings was $1.48, vs. $1.21 for a pound of boneless chicken breast.  This is compared to $0.94 for wings and $1.15 for breasts as recently as May 2008.

The trend has also led to an increase in the number of restaurants offering “boneless wings,” which are actually the now cheaper breast meat shaped into pieces that vaguely resemble the wing–or, as they were known before wings became popular, chicken nuggets (or McNuggets, if you’re a McDonald’s aficionado).  These boneless wings, which seem to generally be priced at a premium over the authentic wings, are actually making more money for restaurants.

Personally, I’d just stay home–find some good chicken wing recipes on the web, and fry up your own.  They’re cheaper, usually better, and you don’t have to deal with some moron restaurant manager who prefers playing video games to actually doing anything.  And if you’re really nice, maybe your wife will put on those orange shorts…

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