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Published January 14, 2013, 11:35 PM

Wingin' it: The Forum's hot wings contest heats up

Americans consumed an estimated 1.25 billion chicken wings during last year’s Super Bowl, according to the National Chicken Council. With such abundance, we decided to narrow the field for your party-planning needs.

Americans consumed an estimated 1.25 billion chicken wings during last year’s Super Bowl, according to the National Chicken Council.

With such abundance, we decided to narrow the field for your party-planning needs.

Just as the National Football League is in the middle of its playoff bracket, we created a wing-to-wing bracket. Over the next three weeks, Forum features reporter John Lamb and I will find the best wings in Fargo-Moorhead, just in time for the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Many restaurants in the Fargo-Moorhead area offer some variation of the wing, but testing every one didn’t seem feasible.

Instead, we relied partly on the obvious choices, including the newly opened Quaker Steak & Lube, Hooters, Green Mill and Buffalo Wild Wings.

We also asked our readers to weigh in and included The Old Broadway Sports Zone and Tailgators Sports Café, which was the overwhelming reader favorite.

Finally, we wanted to include delivery options as well. Last year, the National Restaurant Association estimated that 48 million Americans ordered delivery or take-out during the Super Bowl. For that reason, we included Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza to round out our finalists.

To keep things consistent, John and I ordered a standard “buffalo” wing at each restaurant, even though most offered many different sauces and spices for their wings.

If an establishment allowed getting more than one flavor in an order, we’d also order their “hot” wing to compare.

Over the course of several weeks, John and I judged each wing on the following criteria:

Flavor/spiciness: We weren’t looking for the hottest wing in the F-M area, but rather for the best combination of flavor and spice.

Meat texture: Here we looked for skin that was especially crispy and meat that was tender and came off the bone well.

Sauce: A classic wing should have a good slathering of sauce, but not so much that it ends up pooling at the bottom of the serving container. On the flip side, there’s such a thing as not having enough sauce. Here we wanted just the right amount.

Messiness: Wings are a finger food, and as such they should be messy to eat. We considered whether the wings were too messy or not messy enough.

Appearance/extras: We judged this category on how the wings looked when they were served to us and whether they were served with any sauce or vegetables on the side.

For each of the criteria, we scored the wings on a scale of 1-5, with one being poor and five being excellent. We then added up each rating for the wing’s overall score out of 25.

Next week, we’ll reveal the winners of the first four matchups, which were determined by simply drawing names out of a hat.

The following Tuesday – the week before the Super Bowl – we’ll reveal the two semi-finalists plus the overall winner, which we’ll dub the Best Wings in Town.

Bracket 1

Price: $8.99 for 10 wings

Happy hour specials: None for wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

Price: $6.79 for six wings, $8.99 for eight boneless

Happy hour specials: 60-cent wings all day Tuesday,

60-cent boneless wings all day on Thursday

Bracket 2

Green Mill

Price: $9.99 for one serving, or $21.99 for a three-flavor sampler

Happy hour specials: $5.99 for bone-in wings, $6.99 for boneless, 4-6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday

Quaker Steak & Lube

Price: $9.79 for single order of 10 wings, two sauce combination add $1.29

Happy hour specials: All-you-can eat wings 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday for $12.99; all-you-can eat boneless wings 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday for $11.99

Bracket 3

Pizza Hut

Price: $6 for eight wings, $10 for 14

Happy hour specials: N/A

Old Broadway

Price: $8.99 for 12 wings

Happy hour specials: Tuesday, wings cost 25 cents 6-9 p.m. and 20 cents from 9-10 p.m.; Thursday, boneless wings cost 30 cents from 6-9 p.m., and 20 cents from 9-10 p.m.

Bracket 4

Domino’s Pizza

Price: $5.99 for eight wings, $9.99 for 14

Happy hour specials: N/A

Tailgators Sports Cafe

Price: Jumbo gator chicken wings $6.50 for four, $10.75 for eight

Happy hour specials: Split wings, quantities of four, are 50 cents each 2:30-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 p.m. to midnight every night.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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