Some things just go together. There’s peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, and the ultimate delivery combination: pizza and wings. They’re a mandatory pair at every Super Bowl party and an optimal duo for lazy Sunday night dinners. But when, why, and how did this couple come to be? Though the pairing seems ubiquitous now, who decided chicken and pizza should just go together?
La Nova Pizza, a Buffalo pizza parlor that’s been slinging pies since 1957, claims they were among the first to introduce chicken wings alongside pizza to the masses. The buffalo wings started as a common side order that La Nova would include in pizza party packs back in the ‘90s. Since then, La Nova has turned into a separate buffalo wing conglomerate, catering wholesale, oven-baked buffalo wings to national pizza chains. According to Maria Merlino, the national sales and marketing director of La Nova Wings Inc., Don Tyson -- the former CEO of Tyson Foods -- “never would have been able to sell the chicken wing idea to Domino’s and Pizza Hut [if it weren’t for La Nova].” Merlino added that since the brand started selling pizza combos with wings, the brand has sold billions of wings.
It makes sense; both items are hand held while delivering big on salty, greasy, and savory flavors. Saucy, spicy wings are welcomed between bites of melty, cheesy pizza -- and both pair great with cooler sauces, like ranch or bleu cheese. And though traditionally deep-fried, wings, like pizza, can also be baked -- making it an easy addition to pizza parlors that already have functioning ovens everywhere. It’s a match made in pizza heaven.
The irony is that a mere 50 years ago, wings were considered a throwaway cut from the chicken, used to either make stock or just tossed out. According to the New Yorker, wings were “parts of a chicken that most people do not consider even good enough to give away to bar flies.” But with the invention of Buffalo wings in 1964 from Buffalo’s famed Anchor Bar, everything changed. Not only did the reputation of the wing do a complete turn around, the cut is so popular that there have even been chicken wing shortages in the states.