It's delicious irony that the worst Super Bowl team came from the city that produced the best Super Bowl party food.

We're talking, of course, about the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo chicken wings.

From 1990 to 1993, the Bills lost four straight Super Bowls. (Only the Minnesota Vikings have lost as many, and it took them twice as long.)

Meanwhile, the spicy chicken wings created 40 years ago at Buffalo's Anchor Bar have continued to ascend in popularity. One survey says they'll be the most-ordered appetizer during this year's Super Bowl.

The appeal is easy to explain. Among all parts of the chicken, wings have the highest ratio of tasty fried skin to meat. Plus, you gnaw the meat right off the bone, an act that carries its own visceral appeal.

Finally, there's the sublimely simple sauce, which can be made with as few as two ingredients -- cayenne pepper sauce and melted butter.

Buffalo wings have even spawned a host of other party dishes, from Buffalo nachos to Buffalo dip.

Buffalo's football team may have choked in the big game, but we'll gladly wolf down its namesake snack.


Split decision: Wings can be cooked whole, but they're easier to handle and eat if split first. First, remove the tip, then cut through the wing at the joint. A cleaver or heavy chef's knife works best.

Don't forget the dip: Serve wings with blue cheese or ranch salad dressing and plenty of raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots and bell peppers. For a dip with some kick of its own, stir horseradish or wasabi powder into ranch dressing; for a dip with an island flavor, add mango juice to ranch dressing.

Cooking: Buffalo wings can also be baked or grilled, although the skin won't be quite as crispy. To make wings in the oven, bake at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes or until done, turning often. To grill, cook over medium-low heat about 30 minutes, turning occasionally and watching for flare-ups.

Getting saucy: For Buffalo wing sauce in the recipes for Buffalo chicken dip and Buffalo nachos, you can substitute 1/3 cup cayenne pepper sauce mixed with enough melted butter or margarine to equal a half cup.

Clean-up time: Have plenty of napkins, paper towels or -- even better -- wet wipes on hand.