Why Buffalo’s wings are the best, according to the Wing King

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Does Buffalo make the best wings? Well, they were invented here, so we’d certainly like to think so.

Drew Cerza is a man many know as the “Wing King.” You might’ve seen him around sporting a large, orange wing-shaped hat and a t-shirt bearing his title. After all, Cerza deserves the moniker; he founded the National Buffalo Wing Festival — a yearly tradition dating back more than 20 years.

It’s a celebration of the chicken wing — a food invented at Buffalo’s own Anchor Bar. During the annual event, people come from all over the world to share their take on the Queen City classic.

“Well, you know, I think overall, they definitely are,” Cerza says of Buffalo’s wings being the best.

Cerza believes you can get tasty wings all around the country, but it’s not necessarily the taste that makes Buffalo’s number one in the Wing King’s heart (and stomach).

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“Seeing that they’re from here originally, I think we take hometown pride…It’s not just another food; I think it’s a special food that we’re proud of,” Cerza said.

He makes a mean wing himself, beating celebrity chef Bobby Flay in a “Chicken Wing Throwdown” on the Food Network in 2007, the National Buffalo Wing Festival website says.

But not everyone thinks the best wings are in Buffalo, or at least they used to say so. Food critic Alton Brown drew flak in an episode of the web series “Hot Ones” back in 2018 when he took a shot at the wing’s originating city.

“If you really want great Buffalo chicken wings, you don’t go to frickin’ Buffalo,” Brown said on the show, which centers around conversation, chicken wings and increasingly hot sauces.

Brown later backpedaled, giving Buffalo’s wings another shot four years later in 2022.

With La Nova boxes stacked in the background, Brown posted a photo to Twitter, saying “I was wrong, the best wings are in Buffalo.”

Now on the same side as the Wing King (and most of Western New York), Brown spoke more about his change of heart on Facebook.

“I got majorly schooled on #BuffaloWings today by local experts including [Buffalo News Food Editor] Andrew Galarneau,” Brown said. “I can say, I have had the best buffalo wing of my life and yes, it was in Buffalo.”

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Delicious taste can be found in so many Buffalo wings, and Cerza’s right, there is definitely a sense of hometown pride when making them.

The preparation is what makes Buffalo’s wings stand out, Cerza says. And there’s a lot of consistency in the way wings are made around here. We’ve been doing it longer than anyone else.

“You can’t use oil that’s old or the wings just aren’t gonna come up crispy in the right way,” Cerza says.

Besides fresh oil, Cerza says the other necessary requirements for great wings include properly shaking them and having consistent sauce coverage — don’t oversauce, but cover the whole wing!

So, when it comes to why Buffalo’s wings are the best, he says it’s more in the prep — the hometown pride and decades of consistency.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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