In the two years since Buffalo expat Julianne Hobbs discovered that she could get FedEx deliveries of the Duff’s chicken wings she loves for that signature crispy tangy heat, they’ve been arriving in batches of 50, or the occasional 100. At her home in Naples, Florida, they’re the highlight of celebrations like her father’s birthday, Christmas, Bills games and soon… the Super Bowl.
With or without the Bills, for Buffalonians, the annual football championship, and the parties featuring local food, are tied to football and Buffalo love. Expats, and locals, have key sources: For some it may be wings from Anchor Bar or pizza from Picasso’s, Imperial Pizza, La Nova Pizza or Bocce Club Pizza.
For Hobbs, who moved to Florida for work and now lives there with her family and expat parents, Duff’s wings embody that cheering Buffalo-home-food feeling.
“Now they’ve become a fan favorite whenever we’ve ordered them,” she said. A $155 mail order of 50 authentic Buffalo wings cooked, frozen and ready to reheat is, she said, worth the price. “Down here in Florida, you get a lot of breaded chicken wings, which we always joke, are like chicken fingers with bones,” said Hobbs.
As the Super Bowl approaches February 12, Hobbs and other expats are gearing up for parties that, even without the Bills, must include Buffalo food and, perhaps, a batch of homemade chicken wing dip. The national Goldbelly delivery service offers Duff’s wings among its Buffalo options of wings and pizza.
At Bocce Club Pizza on Bailey Avenue in Amherst, staff ships direct from their website with UPS. Demand is steady for their half-baked, oven-ready frozen pies made of homemade dough and traditional sweet sauce.
Once the pizza cooks, the hand-cut pepperoni bakes into little cup-like curves that are crunchy and charred at the rims. Mark Daniels, Bocce’s general manager, calls it the “pepperoni that everybody loves, that curls up for you.”
Every week, Bocce staff ships about 100 pizzas all over the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, said Daniels. While Bocce’s has been sending its pizzas outside Western New York for about three decades, the mail-order business took off about a decade ago when the pizzeria’s online system got going. One of the more notable deliveries went to soldiers in Iraq who warmed up the pizzas in the desert on their military Hummers.
The days leading up to the big game are their busiest. On a morning early this week, 15 pies were heading to the UPS truck and then on to addresses in Florida, California, Washington, Nevada and Arizona.
Orders for the Super Bowl LVII will close on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. For one $27 pepperoni pie, it costs an extra $50 to mail. For each additional order after that, it costs another $10 per pie to ship. “We tell people to order early,” said Daniels. That advice goes for locals, too. “We don’t want people stuck waiting in the lobby.”
Daniels plans to spend game day helping everyone navigate “the madness.” “It’s the busiest day,” he said.
At Duff’s, Kirk Feather, owner of the Depew location on Dick Road, will take Super Bowl requests until a week before the big game. He caps out-of-town shipping to 25 orders of wings a day. “That’s the max. Otherwise it disrupts,” he said. “I have to limit it because I have to support our indoor business.”
Feather thinks Duff’s wings win hearts because the sauce is hotter than most. A wedding reception that served 600 wings was the biggest mail order he can remember. It has been nice to read all the fond notes, congratulations and birthday wishes on the cards sent out with the wings. “There’s always little greetings to people when they’re sending them as gifts,” he said. “It’s kind of interesting.”
For Hobbs, her father’s birthday was the motivation for that first Duff’s mail order. Too often her dad, who says he has everything he needs, would return his presents. “He’s very hard to buy for,” Hobbs said. “So, I thought, ‘You know what, he’s never going to turn down chicken wings.’ My family and I chipped in … That really made his birthday special and different … It makes him feel a little more at home.”
Now she buys about four times a year. Duff’s wings have become a great Florida tradition. Even though she wishes the Bills were playing in the Super Bowl this year, with wings on hand, her game day party will have that feeling she misses of football and home.
“It’s not cheap by any means,” said Hobbs. “But it’s well worth it.”
For details and ordering instructions for all Buffalo pizza and wing hotspots that deliver around the country, visit: Buffalo Pizza & Wing Joints Delivering Nationwide
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As a bonus, Julianne asked for us to share her chicken wing dip recipe. Enjoy!