CivicScience | The Great Chicken Wing Debate

Hospitality

The Great Chicken Wing Debate

Every once in awhile, we research a particular topic and I expect the results to come back 100 to 0. Questions like “What is the greatest NFL franchise of all-time?,” for example, should unanimously yield nothing but “Pittsburgh Steelers” as a legitimate response.

After a recent debate in our office about the best part of the glorious chicken wing, I would have bet a 1,000 of the delectable buffalo-drenched gems that nobody, I mean nobody, would choose anything other than the drumstick. They can be eaten with one hand without making a sloppy mess. You get a bigger chunk of meat and just one measly bone to discard.

I always figured people ate the flats/wings begrudgingly because restaurants can’t just throw them away. It’s like buying season tickets for a sports team. They make you pay for the preseason even though it’s clearly an inferior product. Nobody would choose a preseason game over the real thing.

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So then I launched a question across our network to 6,093 American consumers to validate my theory. I was dumbfounded by the results. Check it out:

eating-chicken-wings-part (1)

What? OK, sure, the drums win. But how is it even remotely close? When you throw out the people (ie. heathens) who never eat chicken wings, 45% of wing-eaters prefer drums, 29% choose the flats/wings, and 26% like both equally. In other words, less than half of all wing-eaters would choose a plate of all-drums (which is basically my dream scenario). I don’t know what to believe anymore.

Then I dug a little further into our data. I needed to know who these delirious drum-haters were. The first thing I noticed was the difference between the sexes. Women just barely preferred drums over wings, 29%-24%, while men were an even 2X more inclined toward the drums (40%-20%). Women were much more likely to say they don’t eat chicken wings (29%, compared to 17% of men). The numbers didn’t vary much by age, except for the fact that people over 65 were much less likely to eat wings at all.

I found a huge correlation with race. While White respondents were slightly less likely to choose drums, Black respondents were overwhelmingly in the flats/wings camp. 43% of Black respondents chose the flats versus just 30% who chose the drums/legs. Hispanic respondents bring the numbers a bit back to reality. 47% of Hispanics chose the drums, while just 16% chose the flats/wings.

There were no significant correlations with income or education, except for the fact that the uber-educated were less likely to eat any chicken wings at all — proving the notion that all the book smarts in the world can’t always buy good common sense.

I know, I know. The foodies are going to jump all over me. “The flats/wings yield better quality meat. They don’t dry out as much as the legs,” they say, as they flip through their Daniel Boulud cookbook. True to form, respondents who say the “love to cook” are 32% more likely than average to choose the flats/wings. Whatever.

Meanwhile, people who say they are “extremely interested” in sports choose the drums/legs by a landslide, 40% to 17%, over the wings. And that actually kind of sucks, because those are the people I am most often arm wrestling with to swipe the drums off the plate as fast as I can.

I guess the next time I go out for wings, I’m only inviting my food-snob friends.

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