Making major life choices in college – such as what to major in, which jobs to apply for, or which chicken wing joint to go to – can be incredibly stressful. Luckily, I’ve made one of these decisions a little bit easier for you. For the sake of this important task, I have licked 87 different bone-in chicken wings clean in the past 4 days. Whether you’re a student, professor, parent, or gorge-lover, I hope that you find this information useful during your time in the lovely town of Ithaca, New York.
Value: 5 for $4.29, 10 for $7.49, or 86 cents apiece. Can’t beat it.
Variety: Three flavors: Bacon Ranch, Buffalo, and a mysterious third. When I asked the cashier for the name, she looked at me hesitantly and then slowly uttered, “umm… it’s called… ‘Breaded Spicy’”. As suspicious as it was, Breaded Spicy was incredible. I was hype to try the Bacon Ranch but it was surprisingly mediocre. Buffalo was solid.
Aroma Intensity: Very low.
Service: Instant. Excellent. Fast food has its perks.
Attractiveness: Noooo. Miss Breaded Spicy looked like she had a bunch of mysteriously brown tinted weed nugs reincarnated as toe fungus growing all over her. Not hot.
Hotness: The standard buffalo had a faint kick, but hardly.
Sauciness: Unfortunately clean. None of the options were saucey at all.
Chicken Quality: Much better than expected. Give it a chance.
Side Pieces: I wouldn’t bother with them. If you’re getting legitimate hot food at 7-Eleven, embrace the meat by itself. I know this sounds incredibly counterintuitive, but trust me.
Overall Satisfaction: Exceeds all expectations dramatically. Highly recommended.
Calio’s: The Calzone King
Value: 5 for $5.99, 10 for $10.99, 20 for $18.99.
Variety: Calio hits all the basics, and he hits them well. 9 flavors: Mild, Medium, Hot, Spicy BBQ, BBQ, Honey BBQ, Garlic Parm, Sweet Chili, and Teriyaki.
My favorites: Hot, Garlic Parm (get it with minced garlic seasoning for that extra garlic punch), and Sweet Chili (which actually has a smooth, spicy kick).
Smell Intensity: High and delightful.
Service: “10 minutes max” → 14 minutes. I’ll take it. The dude at the register was not that enthusiastic about my project, but whatever.
Attractiveness: Soo hot.
Hotness: Not mind-blowingly hot, but hot.
Sauciness: Yes!! So saucey. Particularly Honey BBQ and Teriyaki.
Chicken Quality: Solid.
Side Pieces: You must get the loaded tater tots with cheddar, bacon, and jalapeńos.
Overall Satisfaction: I was very satisfied.
Disclaimer: due to a language barrier between the cashier and the chef, I was not able to negotiate a variety pack for my review and was only able to try two flavors (and bought/ate six wings of each). Apparently the chef thought that I was playing a joke on the restaurant. Little does he know how seriously I take eating. Anyway…
Value: 6 for $5.99.
Variety: Mild, Medium Hot, Hot, Buffalo, BBQ, Honey BBQ, Honey Mustard, Garlic Parm, and Plain. I only tried Hot and Honey BBQ, which were both excellent.
Smell Intensity: Eh.
Service: “5-6 minutes” → 13 minutes. I was also a little frustrated about the language barrier situation but the cashier was very nice.
Attractiveness: Surprisingly seductive honestly. The grill marks and coloring on both flavors were really nice.
Hotness: Kinda hot.
Sauciness: Honey BBQ was a tad saucey.
Chicken Quality: Solid.
Side Pieces: The fries were fine. If you want more than wings, I would just get pizza and wings and wrap the wings inside of the pizza. Is that weird? I don’t care. Just make sure you spit out the bone.
Overall Satisfaction: Although things got off to a rough start, I was pleased.
Value: 7 for $8.49, 10 for $11.49, 15 for $16.99, 30 for $33.99, 60 for $67.99, and 120 for $129.99.
Variety: 20 flavors: Garbage Sauce, Buffalo, Buffalo Hot, Zombie Hot, Bourbon Honey BBQ, Honey Chipotle, Honey Mustard, Garlic Parm, Cajun Butter, Sesame Teriyaki, Spicy Teriyaki, Sweet Thai Chili, Spicy BBQ, Sweet Thai Chili, Boom Boom, Dr. Pepper, Jerk Seasoning, Chili Ranch, and Spicy Ranch.
My favorites: Boom Boom, Honey Mustard, Sweet Thai Chili, Just Hot, Sesame Teriyaki, and Garbage.
Smell Intensity: Amazing.
Service: Okay so these guys were really excited about my review and decided to give me an entire platter of boneless wings for free. However… they said it would take 20 minutes but it took well over an hour. They said they were finishing wrapping things up 18 minutes before I got my food. Disappointing.
Attractiveness: Very nice to look at.
Hotness: WOWWW. Just Hot is Hot. Similar feeling to when I am three sake bombs deep and shove an entire ball of wasabi into my mouth.
Sauciness: Ohhh yes. Particularly the Boom Boom. The coloring of the honey mustard blended nicely into my olive skin when I got sauce all over my face, much like a light tinted moisturizer.
Chicken Quality: According to my friend, “the skin pops away from the chicken”.
Side Pieces: The sweet potato fries with honey mustard is a vibe. The cajun fries are also great.
Overall Satisfaction: My stomach muscles were aggressively convulsing by the time I actually got to eat, so it was pretty satisfying.
Wings Over Ithaca:
Value: 7 for $6.49, 10 for $8.99, 15 for $12.99, 25 for $19.99, 60 for $41.99, 120 for $74.99.
Variety: The best in town, you know the drill. 25 flavors: BBQ, Honey BBQ, Kickin’ BBQ, Teriyaki, Spicy Teriyaki, Honey Mustard, Garlic Parm, Jamaican Jerk, Golden BBQ, Cajun Blackened, West Texas Mesquite (Dry Rub), Cajun Teriyaki, Cajun BBQ, Sweet Onion BBQ, Mustang Ranch (Dry Rub), Oriental Sesame, Citrus Chipotle, Hot Garlic, Sweet Chili, Wimpy, Cruisin Altitude, Red Alert, Jet Fuel, Afterburner.
My favorites: Hot Garlic, Citrus Chipotle BBQ, Mango Habanero, Sweet Red Chili, Oriental Sesame.
Smell Intensity: Average.
Service: “20 minutes” → 22 minutes. They were really nice and kind of excited about my article.
Attractiveness: I can’t help but associate their top-notch reputation with the nice boy from 7th grade science class who wears earth toned Skechers and always lets everyone copy his homework. It’s a shame but Wings Over is gonna have to take an L for that.
Hotness: You’d think they’d have one mind-blowingly hot flavor, but they don’t. Pretty hot though.
Sauciness: Pretty much all of their non dry rub options are pretty saucey.
Chicken Quality: Solid.
Side Pieces: Waffle fries!! So good. Onion rings are also solid if you’re into that.
Overall Satisfaction: Wings Over is good at what they do- wings. They never blow your mind, but they never disappoint.
I have learned quite a bit from this experiment. For one, if you ever work at a restaurant (especially one that serves chicken wings to college students who are probably belligerently drunk, unfathomably stressed, freezing cold, or some combination of the three) then please, for the love of God, say that the order will take longer than it actually will. I have also learned that, when it comes to chicken, you should not stick to your guns- embrace variety and never, ever have a go-to order at your local wing place. Seek out variety beyond just the meat as well; sometimes side pieces really are necessary with your main chick-en. As for the main piece, though, it is NOT weird to finish off a wing that a good pal bit into first. Overall, I learned that each wing joint is better at some things than it is others. When choosing a place, it’s best to consider which wing experience categories you value most.