Wings: Buffalo's Everlasting Culinary Contribution

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Known around the world as Buffalo wings, any proud Buffalonian will tell you that the key to wings is the sauce, and the balance between heat and flavor.

"It's a Cayenne based pepper sauce and you can use anyone, but Frank's (Red Hot) is the original one with butter that Teresa Bellissimo used back in 1964," said Wing King Drew Cerza.

As the legend goes, Bellissimo needed something to feed some of her son's hungry guest at the Anchor Bar in downtown Buffalo and decided to deep fry the part of the chicken that was usually used to make soup. Add sauce. There you have it.

"We serve 2,000 pounds of wings a day and we sell our sauce as far away as Japan," said Ivano Toscani, Anchor Bar owner.

The Anchor Bar is the undisputed original, but a heated debate persists over who's the best. Duff's Famous Wings has been making 'em hot since 1969. Duff's started to gain notoriety in the mid 1980s and has become a must-stop for tourists and politicians alike.

Jeff Feather is the current owner.  Like the Anchor Bar, Duff's has spread its wings adding locations in Canada, Western New York, Texas and there's a few more in the works, but the original location looks pretty much the same as it did when it opened.

"We keep things simple here. It's not a pretty place but it's a haven to wings that's what it is," Feather said.

No matter which place you prefer, it's a rivalry that's put Buffalo and it's culinary legacy literally on the map.

"We love them because they created this whole buzz around chicken wings.  Without them, we wouldn't be here," said Feather.

As for Cerza, he was crowned the Wing King by celebrity chef Bobby Flay during a throwdown on the food network. He said both are winners.

"That's like picking between, I have two daughters.  Who's your favorite child.  I love them both."

Neighborhood hot spots like LaNova, Bar Bill, 9-11 Tavern and Elmo's in Getzville have a flavor all their own. Many of these places experiment with different flavors, like Elmo's Honey Mustard Cajun Mix.

Cerza realized there were so many chicken wings and so many different flavors all over Buffalo and now the country, why not try them all? Now in it's 14th year, the National Buffalo Wing Festival attracts restaurants and chefs from all 50 states to compete in seven different sauce categories and for three other awards. Thousands pack Coca-Cola Field each September.

The debate will likely always persist on whose wings are best, but nearly everyone in Buffalo agrees on one thing - Blue Cheese.

"I hate when people send ranch. Wings have to have blue cheese," said Brooke Remchuk.