Tomorrow, U.S. football fans will munch millions of pounds of ribs and potato chips and give a boost to pizza sales by more than 30 per cent, quenching their thirst with 50 million cases of beer during the festivities in the week before Super Bowl LVIII kickoff, according to Forbes.com.
More startling perhaps is the fact that they will scarf approximately 1.45 billion chicken wings as the San Francisco 49ers clash with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Super Bowl chicken wing phenomenon permeates much of Waterloo region’s food culture as well.
At Morty’s Pub near Wilfrid Laurier University customers will takeout and eat-in nearly a half-ton of wings on Super Bowl Sunday, according to owner Jay Taylor.
During a regular week, two or three fry cooks in the Morty’s kitchen will drop about 1,600 lbs of wings, but during game day on Super Bowl Sunday those cooks – bolstered to a crew of six to eight – will crank out at least 1,000 lbs. of wings and 300 lbs. of French fries, says Taylor.
Asked why chicken wings are so popular, he describes them as a definitive pub snack that’s versatile and has broad appeal.
“They’re delicious. And addictive,” Taylor says. “And you can get different flavours, so they accommodate all the different tastes, from plain to very sweet to super spicy. Dry or breaded.”
His pub colleagues in the region would likely agree.
Wing is king at local restaurants this Sunday
Gator’s Tail Sports Shack & Grill on Franklin Boulevard in Cambridge easily sells two to three times more wings on Super Bowl Sunday than a regular Sunday.
It’s the same with Kitchener’s StrykerZ Kitchen & Bar on Ottawa Street North in Kitchener, which estimates they will sell triple the number of wings that day.
Edelweiss Tavern, a long-standing and popular sports bar on Doon Village Road in Kitchener, will get catering orders for 200 wings and double or triple their wing sales on game day. Interestingly, their boneless wings outsell their regular wings.
Liz Cunha, owner of Thirsty’s Bar & Grill on Phillip Street in Waterloo, says the pub goes “wing crazy” during the Super Bowl and needs to organize time-slotted pre-orders.
“I’ll typically order four times as many cases of wings,” Cunha says. “But similar to most wing places, we are limited to a certain amount of wings we can do depending on space in the deep fryers.”
EJ’s Tavern at the Baden Hotel will offer their wing-night special of $10 per pound on Super Bowl Sunday and will cook up at least twice as many wings as they would on a normal Sunday.
There are exceptions to prove the rule. The patrons at both Black Badger Cambridge and Duke of Wellington are fanatics for true football — soccer, that is. In fact, the wing ain’t the thing for the Uptown Waterloo public house, and they’ll be running a burger special Sunday.
But, as it is for many pubs and sports bars cranking out Super Bowl wings, operations are fast and furious in the kitchen and for waitstaff.
During Morty’s regular service fresh chicken wings are delivered to the restaurant three to four times a week. Without disclosing the specifics of their recipe, Taylor says the wings are flavoured and floured twice before being par-cooked ahead of their final finishing fry.
In fact, sometimes the breaded, spicy-hot flats and drumettes are only in the kitchen for a few hours before they are shipped out to the pub’s 175-seat dining room or wrapped in aluminum foil and packed into takeaway containers.
However, things ramp up into a hurry-up offense for Super Bowl Sunday at the wing emporium and that requires near-military precision. Pre-orders are taken the week before and blocked into 15-minute segments, otherwise “we wouldn’t be able to get them cooked in time,” says Taylor.
Kitchen staff then arrive by 9 a.m. on Sunday to set up and prepare for the onslaught of wings being “dropped like crazy,” he says.
The assembly-line pace takes the shape of a bell curve.
“The bulk of the takeout comes before kickoff, so a lot of people are coming in and picking up wings before the game starts. It stays heavy right up until the first quarter and then remains consistent to the middle of the game before levelling out to normal quantities,” according to Taylor.
No matter where you get them, or whether or not it’s Super Bowl Sunday, the humble chicken wing is part of the pub fabric at many local bars and taverns.
That is certainly the case with Morty’s, a business that has been a wing anchor at their current location for 24 years and at the original location for 19 years.
The wing is king is what you hear from Taylor, especially on Super Bowl Sunday, but as for what portion of the wing – the flat or the drumette – is the preferred customer choice, Taylor won’t say.
“That’s a question I can’t answer. I don’t want to get involved with that, but I will say my personal favourite is the drum.”