National Chicken Council Projects Sales of 25 Billion Wings in 2012. Richardson-Based Wingstop Expects to Pluck 5.6 Million.

I once made my opinion of the (worthless) honeydew melon very clear. Today I bring up the yucky chicken wing. They have never appealed to me but apparently I am in the minority. This morning comes word from the National Chicken Council: “More than 1.25 billion wings will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend (100 million pounds!), and, if they were laid end-to-end they would circle the circumference of the Earth – more than twice – a distance that would reach approximately a quarter of the way to the moon.”

My initial response is: if you can circle the earth twice, why don’t you just drop off a few million pounds in places where one chicken for a village causes more excitement than the Super Bowl.

My secondary response is actually a question: How many chickens does it take to make 25 billion chicken wings. Hah! You say: do the math dummy; one chicken has only two wings. But your assumption would be wrong. I turned to the Wing-onomics department (true!) at The National Chicken Council for an answer.

You’ll have to jump because you, like chickens, cannot fly.


The vast majority of wings, especially those destined for foodservice, are disjointed, with the third joint (the thin part known as the flapper) being exported to Asian countries and the meatier first and second joints being sold domestically.  The wing is usually split into two parts or portions, known as the “drumette” and the mid-section or “flat” and sold to food service or retail outlets.

A chicken has two wings, and chicken companies are not able to produce wings without the rest of the chicken.  Therefore, the supply of wings is limited by the total number of chickens produced.  When the demand for wings is stronger than the demand for other chicken parts, the price of wings will go up. Wing prices always go up in the fourth quarter of the year as restaurants stock up for the Super Bowl and prices usually peak in January during the run-up to the big game.

In the Midwest, for instance which includes Indianapolis, home of Super Bowl XLVI, the price of wings (whole) for the week of January 16-20, 2012 was $1.96/lb wholesale, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Poultry Market News Service.   This represents a 50 percent increase in price from six months ago in July, 2011.

“The good news for consumers,” said NCC’s Roenigk, “is that food service and retail outlets generally plan months in advance for the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl Sunday, meaning that increased wholesale costs for the most part aren’t passed on to consumers’ plates.”

That’s great news. You might find this interesting as well.

According to NPD Group data, not all regions of the country are equal when it comes to eating wings.

This year’s Super Bowl matchup between the New York Giants and New England Patriots should hold wing consumption relatively steady compared to last year’s levels.   That is because New Englanders and Patriots fans are six percent less likely than the national average to order chicken wings at a food service establishment, but fans of the New York Giants and those others in the Mid-Atlantic region are 24 percent more likely.

A New York Giants – Baltimore Ravens match-up would have produced maximum wing consumption out of the four possible Super Bowl match-ups.   Those in the South Atlantic region, including Ravens fans, are 27 percent more likely than the national average to order chicken wings at a food service establishment.

Should the San Francisco 49ers have won in overtime and faced the Patriots, wing consumption would have taken a hit. Those in the in the Pacific region are 34 percent less likely to order wings.

I didn’t have the balls (that’s another story) to ask what would have happened if the Dallas Cowboys had made it to the Super Bowl, but my guess is that sales at Wingstop, based in Richardson, would have quadrupled and they would have probably had to rely on duck or grackle wings to meet the demand. As it is, Wingstop, with 500 locations, plans to “sauce and toss 5.6 Million Wings on Super Sunday.”