Since the days of antiquity, men and women of all ages have gathered together to compete in one of the most timeless traditions of the human experience: The buffalo chicken wing challenge.
…Alright, maybe that’s not right — maybe the chicken wing challenge is a uniquely 21st century phenomenon, but it’s fun to imagine ancient Romans and Sumerians getting as hyped up as some of the ruthless wing-stuffing challengers we see today. In any case though, it’s no secret that chicken wing challenges are common across the U.S. for plenty of reasons (not the least of which is the fact that chicken wings confer a quality of quick-eating anyway), but what some people fail to realize is that they all bear two things in common: The act of eating buffalo wings, and strategy. Knowing this, following is guide meant to capitalize on the latter of these commonalities.
Like any true competition, you’ll need to adequately prepare for a chicken wing challenge if you want to have a shot at success. For this, your best bet is to try and drink a lot of water the day before and in the hours leading up to the challenge, in order to expand your stomach. Also, most experts agree that you should avoid starchy foods during the 24 hours before your competition — this is because starchy foods can fill you up very quickly and predictably, you’ll want to be as hungry as possible for the competition.
When it comes to technique, while some people may choose to attack their wings like rabid animals, it’s important to also consider the old fable about the tortoise and the hair: Slow and steady wins the race. Some successful contenders have had overwhelming victories by first meticulously taking the meat off of each wing, and then stuffing their face with the collected treats. When it comes to anything like this though, it’s important to do things the way that you think you’ll be successful, because there’s no one perfect strategy. Just don’t forget — you’re being timed!
Other things to think about
If we were to break a chicken wing challenge down scientifically, there are three main variables that change from challenge to challenge:
Intensity (or heat of the wings’ sauce)
Amount of wings
Aside from these main variables, there isn’t a whole lot more to the challenge aspect of a chicken wing challenge. And with that in mind, it’s worth considering how different challenges focus on different aspects in order to differentiate their challenge from the rest.
For instance, if the location where you’ll be doing your challenge is known for its incredibly hot sauce, you should bring some milk to help you cool down once you’ve finished the challenge, since milk is a neutralizing agent and is the best liquid to ease spiciness. But if your challenge is more centered on the amount of wings you have to finish, it may be worth your while to fast for most of the day before your competition. That way, you’ll have extra room in your stomach and an intense appetite built up which may give you a unique advantage over your competitors.
Finally, if the most difficult part of your challenge will be the amount of time you have to finish your wings, you may want to consider trying some different eating strategies at your home beforehand, in order to get a solid wing-eating procedure down. By practicing ahead of time, you can determine the fastest way to eat wings by your own measure — once you’ve got that down, when you finally go in for the challenge, you’ll end with the time that everyone will be trying to beat!
Sammy Jo writes for Willie’s Pub, where they serve up the best wings Columbia, MO has to offer!