Boneless Wings Are Chicken Nuggets, Not Wings

This argument is a little fresh in my mind since I’ve consumed chicken wings two nights in a row. Chicken wings rank pretty high on my favorite foods list, but I’ve always been bothered by the notion that there are wings that may possibly be devoid of an actual wing. Companies such as Buffalo Wild Wings and the Wings Over Brookline have such products on their menus.

It’s hard to define “chicken wing” without using either “chicken” or “wing” in the name. That’s perfectly fine; the simplistic nature of chicken wings is part of their magic. If you like chicken wings, you’ll probably like them anywhere. Unless you order them with sauce that will make you cry.

A box of boneless wings

A boneless wing is very, very different from its winged associate. The lack of wing makes a huge difference. You don’t have to eat boneless wings by hand. Some people choose to, but that’s foolish. They’re covered in sauce. The only reason people eat boneless wings by hand is so that they can try and cover up the fact that they’re not actually eating wings.

There’s little difference between the insides of boneless wings and chicken nuggets (or tenders if you prefer). They’re both typically deep-fried breast of chicken. You run very little risk of getting a bone, unless you eat at McDonalds or KFC.

It’s obvious that this whole “boneless wing” fad is used by chicken wing companies that want to make more money and give their customers the idea that they are consuming wings and not nuggets. Boneless wings are more expensive. This makes sense though; you are getting more meat.

Companies shouldn’t feel silly marketing chicken nuggets alongside chicken wings at their restaurants. They should be happy that they’re giving the customer what he or she really wants, honesty. There’s enough lying in this world already, let the chicken nuggets be presented for what they really are.


  1. The Colonel

    Once again Dr Malone hits the nail on the head: “boneless chicken wings” is as much an oxymoron as “meatless steak” or “dry water.” It’s just one more nonsensical attempt by the processed food industry to dupe the gullible. It sounds as appealing as “meat – flavoured ice cream.”

    As I understand it, the market for ‘chicken wings’ started decades ago with the fad for selling chicken PARTS, mainly thighs and drumsticks for the dark meat aficionados and breasts for the more conventional. There was little appeal for Mom in the supermarket for what was left over (besides skin and entrails), i.e. the wings, because there was little meat for your money. So chicken wings (cheap but tasty snack food, especially when doused with sauce) became a staple for bar food, especially as bars became for the most part too cheapskate to put out real nuts and instead substituted those disgusting, over-salted items of mysterious but obviously non-nut origin, but could SELL chicken wings.

    For that matter, the whole notion of chicken ‘nuggets’ or ‘tenders’ is faintly repellent. A few years ago, several hefty young women in The Bronx sued McDonalds (whose cuisine they ate regularly) because they got fat and contracted early-onset diabetes. Judge Sweet of the Federal District Court in New York threw the case out, but suggested that better lawyers might have stated a good claim based, inter alia, on the process by which McNuggets were ‘manufactured,’ foodstuffs which I recall the learned Judge said would better have been named “Chicken McFrankenstein.”

  2. Couldn’t agree more – and would offer up our own Garden Catering as a perfect example. They sell “buffalo nuggets” not “boneless wings” – and they sell TONS of them.

    The “boneless wing” concept is for girlie men who don’t want to get their fingers sticky or get nice hunks of real flesh stuck in their teeth – and also don’t want to order something which is a staple on every kids menu in the country (chicken “nuggets” or “fingers”). So, they fool themselves into thinking that a boneless wing is manly. It’s not.

    Manly is diving head first into a pile of saucy, messy, spicy and delicious wings – bones and all. And for that matter, handi-wipes are not needed. Lick your fingers clean!

    When in doubt, just ask a simple question: “What would Chuck Norris do?” Chuck would *not* order boneless wings!

  3. i want a chicken nugget please

  4. boneless wings is a silly name, but they are not chicken nuggets. There is no mechanically separated chicken slurry in almost any boneless wing I have ever tried. Its basically sliced up chicken breast deep fried.

  5. David Church

    I was told by a friend who worked for a chicken importer that the boneless wing fad started because the increase popularity of chicken wings has driven up the price of wings. (Chicken parts for restaurants and food processors are often imported from countries like Brazil.)

    There are only 2 physical wings {4 wing pieces) on a chicken but 2 chicken breasts can be cut up into at least 10 “boneless wings.” The profit margin is actually greater now on those boneless wings.

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