Last week, a blog reader forwarded me a fascinating business article from The New York Times about chicken prices. According to the story, lots of restaurants have dropped wing specials or dropped chicken wings from the menu entirely in favor of “boneless wings,” which are really just breaded chunks of chicken breast meat.
According to the article, this is happening because chicken wings, once little more than a throwaway part, are actually MORE EXPENSIVE now than chicken breasts. This may be more obvious to restaurant food buyers than supermarket customers because grocery stores may be trying to “preserve their margins on breast meat.”
Is this happening because chicken wings have gotten so popular? In part, but the NYT reporter also found that when the economy took a nosedive, people stopped eating out as often and chicken breast sales slumped. But chicken wings were apparently still viewed as a cheap indulgence.
I haven’t thought of chicken wings as “cheap” in quite some time. We buy them and make them at home pretty often, and by the time you factor in the work it takes to clean and trim them, we might as well go out to a restaurant and order a plate. We do it for fun and because our wings are pretty darn good.
Do you guys think boneless wings are a reasonable substitute for bone-in? If any chefs and restaurateurs are reading this entry, what do you make of the price flip-flop?