Buffalo Wild Wings gives life and love back to our country, and, by extension, the world and possibly the afterlife as well. I’m not sad to admit this, and you shouldn’t be either. No woman or man who has ever lived has whispered, on their deathbed, “I wish I’d spent less time at Buffalo Wild Wings.” They may mourn that time spent with the kids, or all of the medical tests, but never going to the yellow-and-black chain of restaurants which now dot our nation like so many astronaut skulls dot the moon. Does that analogy not make sense? Well, neither does a world without BWW. Even considering such a toxic bone-pit of a possibility curdles the blood. There could no more be a world without Buffalo Wild Wings than there could be a universe without train hobos, and their effect, train murder.
Before I continue, I need to point out to my audience, and perhaps any number of wing fetishists who have accidentally arrived at this essay, that this is not an ad for this or any wing shop. I have received no monies, and all-too-little appreciation—since we’re bringing up the subject—from Buffalo Wild Wings. Indeed, if the wing-making and wing-selling business establishment finds out I am writing such passionate words about the subject, there is a good chance I will be banned forever and die a pauper of the spirit. Well, probably not. But still, don’t mess this up for me, public.
The key thing to realize about wings is that they are perhaps the dumbest and most American of all foods, and that’s saying something. Take an animal, the chicken, cook it, and take the part that is half-bone, half-meat. Okay, eat that, right? No. Oh, no. That would be far too sensible, rational, European. The next stage—and this is the rank, horrible genius of it all—is that you drench the wing in some cynically-kitchen-tested potion designed to appeal to the widest possible audience, and that is what you sell. In a basket. A beautiful, joy-bringing paper bowl that not even 9/11 could change.
In the anarchist utopia I envision, all food will be solved this way. The bourgeois system of plates and eatin’ implements will be banished down the mule hole into the forever dark, and grimy hands and clean wipes will reign forever and ever.
Buffalo Wild Wings serves wings, and wings are not a meal, since that would require commitment and cultivated adult taste. Grown-ups require spreadsheets, winter-insurance, and divorce court proceedings when they do practically anything. No, son. This is wing culture you’re talking about. This is the extramarital affair of foods, the snack you go for even though your judgment should be better.
A real meal? Child, please. We do things a bit different here, in the world of Buffalo Wild Wings, where there is a f%&*ing television screen showing sports in the bathroom, and we are arguably one drunken yahoo gun-toting sports fan away from having metal detectors installed in the restaurant.
Do you know what we have in place of a side here? Is it a salad? Oh, you sweet summer child. We have fries and potato wedges at Buffalo Wild Wings. This is the final logic of capitalism that even Marx missed. Food does not grow more rarified as money accumulates. No. Fetishizing the authentic is the cornerstone of any sufficiently wealthy capitalist system, where anything can be bought. This, inevitably, trickles down to even the pedestrian foods at the ground level, where instead of processed french fries, I can buy potato wedges.
A basket of wedges.
In a paper bowl.
Not as a complicated dining option. Not at all. These wedges are in addition to the wings I have already purchased. Buffalo Wild Wings, like every other place on Earth that “serves” the consumer, fits every blessed one of God’s children into three or four pre-designated meal sizes: snack, too much, way too much, and death wish. When I go to Buffalo Wild Wings, I can’t get six wings if I want. It’s five, eight, ten, and twenty. Like neoliberal capitalism, there is no alternative. There is no exit. There is only the pre-ordained structure of wings, as immutable, as eternal, as the College of Cardinals or the Swiss not caring about the rest of the world.
When you enter Bee-Dubs, the server will ask you if you wish to sit “In the bar or at a table or booth.” But in truth, like places on a circle, all of the seats in BWW’s are equal, because they are all the same distance from the center: there is literally no inch of surface in a Wings franchise that does not have some kind of emitting surface showing a sporting event. The wait staff are even kitted out in vaguely-sporty-looking shirts. It is almost as if Buffalo Wild Wings, as a cognizant, self-aware entity, is sitting up and saying:
“Do you wish to pigeonhole wings over as a sports food? Are you saying it can’t be fine dining? Do you reduce me so easily to stereotype? Very well, I will overdo it: there will be so much sports coverage, you will be unable to take it seriously. Do you imagine there is only twenty-four hours of sports a day? I will convince you it is five hundred. Surprise, surprise, deals on fries.”
The institution of Buffalo Wild Wings—and it is that, make no mistake—is putting us on. The moment you think you’ve got one snooty step ahead of the Bee-Dub, that is when you’ll see it reaching out for you, Babadook-style.
Normally, in a restaurant review, this would be the place where a considered criticism of the food goes, but that needn’t happen here.
All of my Wings experiences have been the same. That’s the point of a franchise. And I always get the same thing: spicy garlic sauce. I am aware there are other churches of flavor, but why would I risk it. I am honestly, sincerely convinced that there could be no superior to this sauce, and I cannot imagine the kind of degenerate who would choose to pursue a different flavor. It would be the height of folly; you might as well declare yourself a citizen of whatever planet is orbiting Proxima Centauri for all the good it will do you. It does not change the reality of life on the ground.
These are facts of nature, and spicy garlic, in its potency, stands for all other facts. The only element that the spicy garlic and non-spicy garlic sauce dispute might compare to—might—is the ancient and contentious civil war between the Children of the Light—those who pursue bone-in wings—and the Rough Beasts of Darkness, those few humans who have fallen away from the beauty of truth, and order boneless. Boneless is an abomination so horrible to name that even 4chan wouldn’t dare. Even the staff of Breitbart knows better than to eat boneless wings. But we have spoken enough of this crime already.
Reader, states wax and wane, empires rise and fall asunder. But as long as Buffalo Wild Wings endures, I know there is a place where the logic of human destiny and democracy has been fulfilled, and lives each moment: as an overpriced collection of chicken pieces to cheer the heart, and heartburn which warms, and will eventually kill, the soul.
Eventually, Jason Rhode will consume all things. For now, he is selective.