How It All Began: The Story of Buffalo Wings

By Brian Hayden

Published on | Last Updated

“Buffalo style”. The flavor gracing the menus of nearly every pub in North America takes on a whole new meaning in the city that created it. It was Buffalo’s Anchor Bar that changed the course of American food history in 1964 by inventing the Buffalo-style chicken wing. In the decades since, Buffalo’s corner taverns have perfected variations on the wing, each with its own secret recipe, and always complemented by ample helpings of blue cheese. But Buffalo-style goes beyond the unique sauces and preparation techniques found in the birthplace of the wing.

Making a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the chicken wing? Do yourself a favor: Instead of entering the Anchor Bar from the parking lot, walk around the corner to the Main Street entrance, stop at the original wooden bar, and pause. This very spot changed the course of American food history in 1964, when the hungry friends of Dominic Bellissimo, who was tending bar at the time, arrived looking for a late-night snack. Dominic’s mother – owner Teressa Bellissimo – took the chicken wings originally intended for a soup, fried them, tossed them in hot sauce and served them. The Anchor Bar subsequently became a mecca for wing lovers, evidenced by over 500 license plates hanging on the barroom walls from every state, Canadian provinces and most of Western Europe. With roots dating back to 1935, the Anchor Bar has grown to a dozen locations and sells its signature sauce in almost 3,000 supermarkets and as far away as Kyoto, Japan. While the Main Street location serves several varieties of wings, it’s the medium that are the closest interpretation to Teressa’s original recipe from all those years ago.

And now you can embark on a  gastronomic journey on the Buffalo Wing Trail will take you to 12 purveyors of this Buffalo-born dish – from the birthplace of the wing to joints slathering these deep-fried Buffalo delicacies in some of the most unique sauces and spices anywhere. The history, character and atmosphere found in each of the 12 pubs along the new Buffalo Wing Trail are as unique and flavorful as the wings. Your wet naps are waiting.

Brian Hayden headshot

Brian Hayden

Brian Hayden served as Visit Buffalo Niagara's Communications Manager from 2014 to 2020 after working as a newspaper reporter and social media manager in Northern New York. Tweet to him @brian_hayden.