A Chicken Wing Shortage Is Hitting the US

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Chicken wings and football go together like french fries and chocolate shakes. It's not an opinion, it's in the data. Americans ate more than 1.3 billion chicken wings during the 2017 Super Bowl. So, there will undoubtedly be rankled football fans coming to grips with the fact that the United States is facing a chicken wing shortage.

The shortage means wholesale prices are rising, and you're likely to see that reflected in the price of wings you buy at the bar or grocery store. Chicken wings have jumped from $1.50 to $2.09 per pound, reports the Wall Street Journal. You can probably kiss 25-cent wings goodbye for the time being.

It also means wing-dependent chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Wingstop are pushing boneless wings and offering fewer discounts. "That's natural in the restaurant business to raise prices as commodity costs increase," Wingstop's CEO, Charlie Morrison, told CBSNews.

"Wing prices typically peak three times a year," Tom Super of the National Chicken Council told Bon Appétit, "before the Super Bowl, March Madness, and around the end-of-summer grilling-slash-beginning of football season." Combine the timing with US chicken consumption sitting at an all-time high, and you have a recipe for a wing shortage.

As Bon Appétit explains, there's another element at play as well. Wings used to be sold by wing count, making those delicious smaller wings an economical choice for farmers. But a few years ago there was a change to selling by weight. That made it make sense to sell the wings of the genetically modified Tyrannosaurus Chicken until consumers began to question these gargantuan chickens and meat that was sometimes less nutritious and higher in fat content. The industry has signaled it's not aiming to make the biggest, fasting growing chicken possible anymore. That means it takes more wings to fill up a 100-pound box.

There is a bright spot for anyone who can't imagine watching a football game without buffalo sauce-stained fingers. The shortage is for real chicken wings. The ones with bones that were actually a chicken's wing. Boneless chicken wings aren't affected by the shortage. It might not be the same, but it's likely to be a damn sight cheaper for the foreseeable future.

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. Follow him @dlukenelson.