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A Brief History Of Football And Buffalo Wings

Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)
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The St. Louis Rams play in Buffalo this week, a tailgater’s dream, as it combines two of football fans’ favorite things – chicken wings and, of course, football.

Despite the NFL’s widespread popularity, the Bills are actually the second-best export of Buffalo. But what is the history of the buffalo wing?

There are a few different variations of the story of how buffalo wings came to be, but the most likely one is that it started in 1964 at a place called the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. It was there, according to Anchor Bar lore, that owner Teressa Bellissimo created the original buffalo wing.

According to the story, Bellissimo’s son, Dominic, was home from college with his buddies and they wanted something to eat. Teressa deep-fried some chicken wings and then coated them in a secret sauce, a sauce recipe which the Anchor Bar still guards today. The wings were a huge hit, and quickly were added to the Anchor Bar menu. From there, as they say, the rest is history.

Of course, there isn’t just one way to make a buffalo wing. There are as many variations on wing sauce recipes as there are football fans, and a trip to the local grocery store would find a handful of different wing sauces available for purchase.

As such, the buffalo wing has become a tailgating staple in every NFL city, not just at Bills games. In talking with Rams fans before games this year, chicken wings are a mainstay at many of their tailgates throughout the season. Some like to carry out from restaurants – Syberg’s, a local establishment that also boasts famous wings, is a favorite at a few different tailgates – while some prefer to make their own.

But even those less dedicated to their cause often find themselves in the presence of buffalo wings. Establishments known for their wings such as Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings are hot spots during football games for fans not able to be at the Edward Jones Dome on gameday.

There is little doubt that football and the buffalo wing need each other. Although the original buffalo wings created at Anchor Bar in 1964 weren’t made in anticipation of a game, there exist precious few excuses to eat buffalo wings outside of fall Sunday afternoons.

So wherever you’re enjoying today’s Rams-Bills game and some delicious buffalo wings – and let’s be honest, you know you are – pause and thank Teressa Bellissimo for her contribution to your gameday experience. Tailgates everywhere wouldn’t be the same without it.

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