As the people who really know me could easily tell you, I take chicken very seriously. A chicken dish must always be delicious. I almost don’t care what form the chicken is in. I’ll eat a plain grilled chicken breast. I’ll eat a buffalo chicken patty without a bun. I’ve been known to order a basket of chicken tenders, and you can almost always catch me talking about chicken nuggets. But when I go out to dinner at a casual restaurant, the menu item I’m most likely to order is a plate of chicken wings.
I believe in chicken wings. I believe in their deliciousness. I believe that no truly great pub menu is complete without them. When they make my hands messy and make me smell like hot sauce for hours afterward, I’m actually thankful. But in my belief in chicken wings, I also firmly believe that chicken wings should have bones in them.
This point, of course, bring us to our title: A boneless chicken wing is a lie.
Firstly, let’s consider the chicken’s anatomy. The “bone-in” chicken wing is actually derived from the chicken’s wing. The main parts that you’ll see on my plate are the drumette and the flat. Calling them chicken wings makes perfect sense because that’s what they are. They’re taken from the actual chicken’s actual wing. I accept this rationale because it’s perfectly logical.
The boneless chicken wing, however, is likely derived from the breast of the chicken. Already, it’s a physiological lie. You shouldn’t be allowed to call yourself a chicken wing unless you’re made from the chicken’s wing. So, if a boneless chicken wing isn’t a wing after all, what should it actually be called?
Simple. It’s a chicken nugget.
The proof is even in the coating. A true chicken wing is fried, but it’s not breaded. The boneless chicken wing, when you look at it and chomp on it, has the exact, breaded texture of a chicken nugget from the frozen-food aisle. But initially, we might not notice its true identity as a chicken nugget because it’s slathered in your sauce of choice. Other chicken nuggets (that are not too afraid to tell us what they really are) are made for dipping. “Boneless chicken wings” have done the dipping for you. Really, though, that sauce drench is a façade. It’s the only thing keeping the “not chicken nugget” illusion alive.
You might be wondering why we even bother to call these liars “boneless chicken wings” if it’s so obvious that they’re not wings. The answer to that question is simple as well. It all boils down to the hyper-semi-toxic masculinity called the Super Bowl. Since I don’t come from a particularly sporty family (We watch “The Sound of Music” during the game every year because it takes just as long and is, arguably, more entertaining.), I don’t really know what your typical Super Bowl party looks like. Nonetheless, I have seen these parties on episodic television, and I understand that chicken wings are a staple dish for the men as they watch their big game.
In the past few years, commercials for fast food chains have added the boneless chicken wing to the package of “must-have” Super Bowl foods. I’ve seen men eat them, enjoy them, and call them “boneless wings” when that’s not even true. They’re chicken nuggets.
But what man wants to admit that he’s eating chicken nuggets with all his buddies as he watches football players he creepily pretends to know personally play their big, tough game? I don’t know many jock men, but I’m going to guess that the answer there is, “Not many.”
“Chicken nuggets” are something you order at the drive-thru for your four-year-old daughter or son. “Chicken nuggets” seem juvenile. Big, strong men don’t eat chicken nuggets covered in hot sauce. They eat “boneless chicken wings” so as not to embarrass themselves.
There’s no reason for these men to lie to themselves about what they’re really eating when they eat boneless chicken wings anymore. We’ve already exposed them. And guess what? There’s nothing wrong with eating a delicious chicken nugget covered in your favorite sauce! Chicken nuggets are awesome. I’m probably going to make some for myself this week. But for the love of all that is good and holy, please stop pretending that they’re chicken wings. You’re setting a bad example for your children.
That, and true chicken wings just taste objectively better.