The National Chicken Council (NCC) recently released its annual "Chicken Wing Report," which projects Americans’ consumption of the unofficial menu staple of Super Bowl Sunday: the chicken wing. NCC’s 2018 report projects that fans will eat an all-time high 1.35 billion wings during Super Bowl weekend, as the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots battle for the Lombardi Trophy. That figure is up 1.5%, or 20 million wings, from the 2017 event.
“There will be no wing shortage,” NCC spokesperson Tom Super said. “Whether you’re a fan of the left wing or the right wing, there’s no debate about America’s favorite Super Bowl food -- although we do anticipate an uptick in chicken cheesesteaks.”
Fans choose sides
More than half (59%) of U.S. adults who eat chicken wings said they typically like to eat their wings with ranch dressing, according to a new NCC poll conducted online in January by Harris Poll. The survey asked chicken wing consumers which dipping sauces or snacks they typically like to eat with their wings, and they could choose more than one option.
Ranch once again scored as the number-one side or sauce typically eaten with wings, and its popularity has been growing steadily, up from 51% in 2014 and 56% in 2015. Only one-third (33%) like to eat their wings with blue cheese dressing.
The full rankings are: (1) ranch dressing, with 59% of the responses; (2) a tie between buffalo/hot sauce and BBQ sauce, both at 48%; (3) honey mustard at 35%; (4) blue cheese at 33%; (5) teriyaki sauce at 23%; (6) sriracha at 15%), and nothing/“I eat them naked” at 8%.
Flocking to bone-in
NCC asked wing consumers if they prefer to eat traditional bone-in wings or boneless wings, and it appears that bone-in wings are widening the gap against their boneless cousins. According to the survey, 60% of respondents prefer traditional bone-in wings, while 40% chose boneless. In 2015, the spread was 54% versus 46%, respectively. Boneless wings are typically white meat, boneless chicken breasts cut into strips, breaded or floured and tossed with buffalo sauce.
The NCC data parallels recent research by The NPD Group, which found that 64% of chicken wings served in restaurants are bone-in. Servings of bone-in wings rose 6% in 2017, while servings of boneless wings declined at a similar rate.