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Chicken wings' popularity peaks Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday, February 7, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 5:42 p.m. CST, Monday, February 8, 2010
Rene Cruz prepares to add more chicken wings to the trays already frying in the kitchen at CJ's in Tiger Country on Saturday. "The atmosphere in the kitchen is awesome," Cruz said. "Jack FM is probably my second favorite part of working here."

COLUMBIA — If you're going for a Super Bowl party on the cheap, chicken wings may not be on the menu.

Over the last decade, the popularity of the chicken wing has steadily increased and has reached a point where the small, bite-size morsels are commanding a price tag even more than chicken breasts.

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“Historically, chicken wings would go for a third to half the price of breast,” Ron Plain said, a University of Missouri Extension agricultural economist. “But for the last year or so, wings have been selling at higher prices than chicken breast.”

A lot more — 140 percent more than the price of breast meat in the last year, according to Plain.

He said part of wings’ increase in demand is due to a surge in the number of restaurants carrying them. He also attributes their success to how well the meaty snack seems to go with sporting events. Buffalo Wild Wings, for example, has based its business model around chicken wings and sports.

Kristina Boehm, a regional representative for Buffalo Wild Wings, said the restaurant chain typically sells 3,000 to 4,000 wings on a given night accompanying a sporting event. For the Super Bowl, that number usually increases to 6,000 to 10,000.

“The Super Bowl is the largest single day system-wide for Buffalo Wild Wings," she said. "We’ll do 75 to 100 percent more sales – majority of that being take out.” That does not include anything else the restaurant sells, Boehm added.

CJ’s in Tiger Country is known locally for its chicken wings, particularly their Burn Your Face Off wings. Still in their first year of new management, new co-owner Ty Moore does not believe CJ’s in Tiger Country has ever been open for the Super Bowl because it is not open on Sundays. This year however, Moore has decided to test the waters and open CJ’s in Tiger Country for take-out and pre-orders only.

CJ's in Tiger Country reports normally selling around 400 pounds of wings during a home MU football or basketball game but is expecting to sell 200 to 250 pounds of wings for this year’s Super Bowl.


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