In my search for Central New York's best chicken wings (click the link to see our winning wings) we ate wings that were fried and grilled and coated in spicy Buffalo sauce, sweet barbecue sauce, zippy salt and pepper and lots more in between.
But there's one style we didn't eat: Boneless wings.
That's because they're not wings.
Compared to the bone-in original, first made famous at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo in 1964, the boneless bites are a much more recent invention. Buffalo Wild Wings, the international restaurant chain with more than 1,200 locations, started serving boneless wings in 2003, according to The New York Times.
What are boneless wings? They're chunks of white breast meat chicken that have been breaded, fried and tossed with some kind of sauce or seasoning. I guess you could eat plain boneless wings, but then you'd be eating what essentially amounts to popcorn chicken and that's something totally different, right?
Let's step back for a moment. Aside from size, is there really any difference between boneless chicken wings, chicken tenders and popcorn chicken? No.
Chicken wings are wings because they're literally wings. Chickens need wings to fly and to fly, they need bones. Can a chicken fly with boneless wings? No.
People like boneless wings because they're like chicken nuggets, but socially acceptable to eat as an adult (an occasional McNugget splurge aside.)
Other folks say they prefer boneless wings because they think they're healthier, since they're made from white meat chicken, instead of higher-fat dark meat. But a glance at the nutritional facts of a small size of each at Buffalo Wild Wings shows the opposite is true.
A small size of plain boneless chicken wings has 1,000 calories and 51 grams of fat--not including ranch or blue cheese. On the other hand, a small size of plain traditional wings as 650 calories and 36 grams of fat.
They're seemingly unhealthier than their bone-in brethren, but boneless wings are not without merit, even if the blasphemous feelings experienced while eating boneless wings grows stronger the closer you are to the city of Buffalo.
They're a marked improvement over the ground mystery meat mishaps known as chicken nuggets and thanks to their breading--a step typically not found in preparing traditional wings--are almost always crispy, with plenty of nooks and crannies to hold whatever sauce they're tossed with.
Boneless wings taste good, just as any deep-fried piece of chicken covered in sauce and dipped in dressing often do.
But they're not wings.
There's my opinion. What's yours?