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Published January 28, 2013, 11:35 PM

Wingin' it: Quaker Steak & Lube tops Old Broadway for best wings of F-M

The final: Quaker Steak & Lube vs. The Old Broadway Sports Zone. It was fitting that our randomized hot wing bracket ended up pitting a local favorite, the Old Broadway, against a new national chain, Quaker Steak, for the title of Best Wings in Fargo-Moorhead.

The final: Quaker Steak & Lube vs. The Old Broadway Sports Zone

It was fitting that our randomized hot wing bracket ended up pitting a local favorite, the Old Broadway, against a new national chain, Quaker Steak, for the title of Best Wings in Fargo-Moorhead.

Both wings had the best overall balance of taste and spice. The meat of both was tender, and the skin was crunchy. According to our tastes, these were the two best hot wings of the eight we tried.

In the end, Quaker Steak received slightly higher scores. Its wings were tenderer and had a healthier slathering of sauce.

The establishment, which has been open in Fargo for just a few months, bills itself “Best Wings USA.” In our taste test, that proved true, at least for Fargo-Moorhead.

Dan Kiser, regional manager of Quaker Steak, says he was “pleasantly surprised” to find out the results.

One thing that Kiser believes sets the Pennsylvania-based chain’s wings apart is their size. On average, Quaker Steak’s wings are 25 percent larger than the wings of their competitors, he says.

While a larger wing means more meat for the diner, it also helps to keep the wing moist longer.

“We want to be known for our size,” Kiser says. “The size is what helps us out.”

Quaker Steak’s company culture is very focused on perfecting the wing recipe, Kiser says. As a result, plenty of TLC goes into the preparation of the dish.

Wings are kept in a fridge reserved only for them, regulated at 34 degrees. They’re checked several times each day to ensure that they’re meeting the company’s target weight, roughly 6.1-6.8 wings per pound.

Each wing is hand-spun with sauce to a specific measurement as well, Kiser says, which ensures that each piece of meat gets an equal coating.

Quaker Steak has 21 different wing sauces, ranging from Ranch to Triple Atomic. According to their website, the Triple Atomic measures in around 500,000 units on the Scoville Scale, a method for measuring the spiciness of a pepper.

For comparison, the hottest pepper in the world – the Infinity chili – rates a 1,067,286 on the Scoville Scale. Pepper spray used by law enforcement measures between 1.5 and 2 million.

The sauces included in our taste test – the Medium and the Hot – come in at 1,440 and 3,000 Scoville units, respectively.

So far Fargo seems to have warmed up to the chain. Kiser says the restaurant is the most successful of all 61 locations throughout the country.

That popularity will mean a busy Super Bowl Sunday for Quaker Steak’s staff. Kiser says the big game will be the “largest day of the year for us,” in terms of wings.

Based on a company estimate, Kiser expects Fargo’s Quaker Steak to sell around 4,000 pounds of wings – or between 24,000 and 27,000 individual wings – on that day alone.

Quaker Steak does not yet deliver – Kiser estimates the restaurant will start a delivery service by the end of February – but he says he’s received many calls inquiring about it for Super Bowl Sunday.

It’s no coincidence that wings are so popular this time of year, he says. Indeed, the dish has become an important part of American food culture.

“People are passionate about it,” he says. “It’s part of Americana now.”

A recap of the taste test

In honor of the Super Bowl, Forum reporter John Lamb and I came up with a list of eight hot wings from local, national and delivery establishments to pit against each other in a playoff format.

Over the course of several weeks, John and I tried the contestants’ “medium” and “hot” Buffalo wings, some eaten in the restaurant and some ordered via delivery to compare.

We judged each wing on several different criteria, ranging from flavor to meat texture. Each wing was then put into a randomized matchup by drawing a name out of a hat.

Online

Be sure to check Inforum.com Wednesday for this week’s “Hungry for More” video. The Forum’s Jim Manney visits Quaker Steak & Lube to learn a little more about how they make their wings.


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

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