Thigh-High Problems 🍗

The reason a virtual restaurant called Thighstop now exists is because wings simply became too popular, and Wingstop needs to buy more of the bird.

(Chad Montano/Unsplash)

Serendipity was behind the creation of the buffalo wing—with the Wikipedia page for the sports-game delicacy referencing at least three different anecdotes as to how the Buffalo, New York-based Anchor Bar landed on the once-undesirable chicken parts as targets for deep-frying and coating in sauce.

Back then, wings were seen as scrap parts of the bird and little was actually done with them.

But my, how the tables have turned.

This week, the company behind Wingstop announced an offshoot of its popular chain called Thighstop, meaning that if you feel like having some thighs done up like wings, load up Doordash and go nuts.

In its own way, there is something serendipitous about the fact that shortages in the chicken market have made chicken thighs desirable again. There are, of course, economic realities at play behind the creation of Thighstop, as Wingstop Chairman and CEO Charlie Morrison noted to CNN Business.

Thighstop thighs cropped

“The [per-pound wholesale] price of wings a year ago was as low as 98 cents,” he told the outlet. “Today, it's at $3.22. So it's a meaningful difference.”

The problem was that, during the pandemic, chicken wings became incredibly popular as a food option, with virtual restaurants launching that did nothing but sell chicken wings. (Probably also not helping: the pandemic-era success of the saucy nugs guywho is also nervous about a chicken-wing shortage.) 

Which means that chicken wings, once seen as so cheap and undesirable that a restaurant in Buffalo felt that they had to come up with a new way to cook them to make them even palatable for customers, are now suddenly more expensive than chicken thighs, which have significantly more meat on them than a chicken wing. (Although it’s dark meat.) Which is a really comical state of affairs, as highlighted by the way Morrison is trying to upsell thighs to consumers.

Long story short, by creating a market for thighs, you’re potentially making wings cheaper for Wingstop to buy—and allowing them to take advantage of economies of scale those wing-focused virtual kitchens are already using.

“If we can buy all parts of the chicken, not just the breast meat for boneless wings and the wings themselves … we can start to control a little bit more of the supply chain,” he said.

Of course, the food industry is not exactly above trying to find interesting ways to make undesirable food parts into something people might want to eat—after all, that’s how we got the chicken nugget.

So if you want to help a massive chain put some buffalo sauce on some chicken thighs as a way to solve its supply-chain problems, you know what to do: Go to Thighstop.

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Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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