Gross Food Week #1: The Original Hooters Medium Wing Sauce


Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. With that exuberant commencement speech, let us begin Gross Week 2012. Today’s selection embodies all of the principles that I consider to be important for this theme week, namely, that it is a proudly licensed product aggressively marketed by its source and even touted as “secret”, that it is a disturbing shade of nuclear hazard orange, and that it was 99 cents at a grocery clearance store. The fact that it is not, like so many products at this store, past its sell date should give you a taste of its quality already.
Where to begin? There’s just so much to cover on the label alone. Let’s start with the lusty endorsement from the Hooters owl himself, “A thrill on the grill BBQ!” It doesn’t take a professor with a Ph.D in Lolology to figure out how Engrishy that is. Despite my suspicions that this was some sort of perverted and failed test item, it turns out that Hooters still makes this sauce, selling it for a mere $7 on the interwebz, and still employs this awful catch phrase. Reading further, I caught the official Hooters logo emblazoned no less than four times on the jar. Either they’re trying really, really hard to prevent copyright theft or they’re actually proud of this product.
The directions on the side (whose inaccuracies I’ll later explain) also provide a list of recommendations of foods with which you can drown in this sauce. Surprisingly, slathering the sauce on the breasts of an after-hours Hooters waitress is not one of them. There goes my bucket list. The cooking process sounded easy enough- fry up some wings, toss them in the sauce, enjoy with a side of classified ads to wipe away the tears and excess dribblings. Not so terrible, right?

Oh my god, it’s like the bastard child of napalm and nacho cheese. My hatred for Robin Williams and Spy Kids has nothing on this one. I think you get the picture. Yep, nasty surprise number two- the sauce had the texture of cold margarine and the smell of gasoline, Tabasco, and melting plastic. This in no way felt like something I should have put near my face, much less ingest. And I haven’t a clue why the instructions said to shake the jar first- it’s about as productive as shaking a jar of peanut butter. But readers, like a dutiful serf, what I do, I do for you. And so I began the process of cooking my wings.
I decided to try this on both breaded and non-breaded wings to get an idea as to how it adhered to the chicken. Huge mistake on my part. On both applications, the sauce had the softness of warm yogurt and melted like butter on toast. On the pieces of unbreaded chicken, it left no more than a slick trail on the skin and clumped at the bottom of the plate, and on the breaded pieces, it melted into the nooks and crannies and separated almost immediately after sticking on. It felt like the sauce was too runny to handle any temperature above lukewarm, yet was so congealed in its original form that it was also unable to function as a dipping sauce.
Once the wings were no longer molten and ready to eat, the sauce returned to its original liquid consistency, that of a melted almond bark coating, and shellacked the wings to the plate, rendering them mere components in a disgusting and inedible art project and requiring the force of a fork and knife to remove them from their glued-on state. Taking this photo was easy as they remained preserved in their original positions on the plate, held upside down, for over two minutes.
It tasted rancid. This is exactly the kind of product that aspires to be a hot mess and fails miserably. There was literally no element of this that made it appear edible, much less palatable. The heat is warm, but no warmer than a hamburger sitting next to a bottle of mediocre hot sauce and certainly not at the level of any Buffalo wing you’ll find at a sports bar. It has an oily, thick consistency not unlike facial cream, were said facial cream purchased at a dollar store and had a slight numbing effect on the lips. It tastes predominantly of vinegar and Crisco with an aggressively salty bite and leaves a buttery slick all the way down the throat. The sauce had the unique ability to permeate through even the thickest flour breading on a wing, saturating the meat so with its liquid ass flavor and rendering every single wing I made inedible. Lest you worry that I went hungry, I thankfully deployed my backup wing supply with a hot honey and red pepper flake sauce and ate them with gusto.
Congratulations, Hooters. In the world of successful marketing vehicles, this sauce is the abandoned flaming Pinto on cinder blocks with a tarp and headless doll in the trunk.

The People’s Pint, Greenfield, MA

A couple of days ago, before the 2011 Blogger Blowout Maintenance, a day that lies in infamy for plenty of bewildered readers, I was blissfully unaware and enjoying a pint and wings at The People’s Pint in Greenfield, with Sugar B and a gorgeous chocolate lab.

I’d never been to The Pint. You’ll notice I’m consciously eliminating the “People’s” so as to not slip up and misplace the possessive. Peoples is peoples. Goddammit. But as soon as I saw the menu, containing an overload of smoked wings, bacon chocolate chip cookies, green curry, and massive burgers, I was hooked and off we went.
I wanted dessert for dinner so I got an oatmeal stout. Tasted chocolatey and rich without being too hoppy or starchy. Random meaningless beer terms I am throwing around. Hoppy. Um. It was a good flavor. Like cookies that had been hanging out for a while. In a tasty way.
Whole chicken wings are not to be trifled with. Combine the low Neolithic lighting with the gnarled wood tables and I might have been so inclined to rip apart a whole bird seasoned this way. Mmmm. Our appetizer came with four wings that may have been sourced from a free-range, Longmeadow Farms pterodactyl. My fav, you know. While the texture was a bit inconsistent from bite to bite, some somewhat dry and others falling off the bone in mid-air, the flavor was phenomenal and the skin was nice and crispy. Don’t trust wing-makers who are shy about charring their birds- these are certainly burnt to a crisp in the most savory, delicious fashion. The sauce took a backseat to the char, but was juicy and pungent with a slight heat. I imagine these would make killer buffalo wings or mustard wings. Any sauce on these. After all, I encourage experimentation.
For an entree, I ordered the embarrassingly named Squealer, a burger clearly not designed for a date in both content and moniker. But I go all way, and with roughly a third of a pound of Shelburne beef and bacon ground together in harmony with cheddar and chipotle mayonnaise, I was definitely okay with eschewing dignity, street cred, and cholesterol for burger-bacon bliss.
The burger was delicious and tender, but somehow lacked the bacon punch I’d expected. We’ve all seen Serious Eats pull off a 100% bacon burger with gross results, but for some reason, this burger seemed to have less bacon flavor than a burger with bacon on top. A little anticlimatic and kind of strange. The main indication of bacon content in this burger was how soft and juicy it was. It seemed to have a really fine consistency and a fat content that made it almost delicate. The bun must have soaked up the juices pretty well, because this wasn’t drippy at all. Chipotle mayo was lubricatious, but could have been a little spicier. An interesting concept, but one that needed some TLC. This was served with a side of rosemary potatoes. Soft and pickupable. Nature’s edible toddler.
Sugar had a trout quesadilla that might as well have been wriggling and gasping for air on his plate. Motherfucking oncorhynus mykiss is fucking cuh-razy. The quesadilla was garnished with carrot strips and oozing with cheese but was soft and fishy and delicious dipped in horseradish sauce. The trout was cooked perfectly, soft and flaky. Mmm. Saucy.
And that was dinner! We opted to check out Herrell’s for some ice cream. Can’t beat old favorites. This was definitely a place I’d check out again.

Tony’s Pizza, Sutton, MA

While traveling to and from our vacation this weekend, Keepitcoming pointed out a small restaurant on Route 146 that she remembered being delicious. It looked like exactly my type of pizza joint- on a creepy stretch of road and a local favorite. Call me Guy Fieri, but I was there, son. So on the way back, we stopped for lunch so I could see what the hype was all about.

Tony’s was packed for a lazy Sunday afternoon, full of regular patrons and families with kids, waitresses shouting salutatory questions out into the air. The decor was like stepping into someone’s furnished basement, with knotted pine walls and haphazardly scattered Little League trophies, along with photos and newspaper clippings and the requisite engraved “Captain’s Place” sign above the stairwell and doorway. The menu’s stock photos were straight out of the seventies and everyone called you “hon.” Definitely the kind of place that you can tell serves good pizza.

We placed our order- a small pizza with half cheese and half peppers and onions with a side of buffalo wings and waited a few minutes. Everything about this place was relaxed, so we sat for a bit and grabbed our drinks. After about fifteen minutes, our food was fresh and hot and we picked it up to eat. The pizza was twelve inches around, the standard small pizza size, and about 3/4 of an inch thick. I should give you a preface before I tell you how happy this made me- as a kid, I was a rebel to the “pizza theory”, that is, that your first slice/impression of pizza is what you consider pizza to be. Now that, of course, was thin, crispy, brick oven New Haven style pizza, and will always be, but in my youth, all I wanted was Domino’s or Pizza Hut. Party pizza. Greasy, thick, doughy pizza. I eschewed the artisan crisp for blankets of cheese, and never got it.

Now that I’m surrounded by mediocre pizza for the most part, (sorry, Western Mass) I find myself missing that crisp, thin tang, but this pizza really brought back memories of what I always wanted as a youth and never received. My god, this was delicious pizza. This was sublime. The crust was buttery, but not greasy, with a sweetness to the dough and a crisp exterior, barely passing the line of being crunchy. The crust, which never got soaked through with toppings, was covered in a layer of thick, sweet sauce- probably the closest thing I’ve found to a Beverly sweet sauce pizza thus far. It wasn’t really tomatoey, but flavored with more of an onion and brown sugar dominance, with garlic and tomatoes coming in to round it all out. The cheese was stringy, melty, and milky, all things I love in a pizza cheese. It was simple. It was comforting. When you get down to it, this was just delicious pizza. The upskirt.

Just when I thought I could have gorged myself on this and been happy for the rest of my life, the wings came. These were no ordinary wings. Up until now, I don’t think I’d ever been privy to dry wings with breading, but here they were. I realize I’m sounding a little like Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation when I tell you that “literally, these were the most phenomenal, most decadent chicken wings I’ve ever had in my entire life,” but they were that fucking good. Honestly. With one bite, the bulk of the meat fell off the bone along with the crispy, crispy shell, which was flavored with paprika and buffalo seasoning and garlic and all sorts of magic. Was this a traditional buffalo wing in the dictionary definition of the word? No. Was it better? By far. This is what I imagine broasted chicken to be- tender, falling off the bone, crispy, crunchy goodness. These are wings I would travel for.
The money shot. Doesn’t that look like a cartoon chicken wing? The kind that looks delicious and completely unrealistic? Yeah, that’s what these are. If we ever go down this way again, I’m definitely making a case to stop for more pizza and wings. For a menu with so many items, they do it right, and I absolutely love it.

Nacho Chilichanga Wingers

God, I love wings.

There’s something so deliciously primal about eating them. Generally, I avoid foods that force me to pay to dismantle it, but wings are a serious exception. When Swagger comes for a visit, we almost always hit up the local wing joint and enjoy a ton of them over some terrible B movie or bad reality television.

These snacks intrigued me because they were both low fat and wing flavored, and wing shaped. However, it would not be possible to replace actual wings with these…things. They’re unfortunately not as wing-like as I would have enjoyed.Granted, I haven’t found a buffalo sauce flavored product that has really wowed me, though I did love the blue cheese glaze on Little Wings. These, unfortunately, fall into the category of imitation buffalo snacks. While they do try hard, and I admire the effort put into the little wing shapes, I just wasn’t too impressed. This particular flavor is nacho chilichanga, a flavor I’ve never actually seen translated into wings.I think the seasoning was applied far too gently. There was a slightly cheesy flavor to these, but by no means nachoesque, and a very mild chipotle and black pepper spice at the end of each bite. It was mainly salty and had little else to offer. The texture of these was stranger than I expected, and these were tiny wings! If I was served these in a restaurant, I’d send them back because they look like squab wings. I wanted them to taste like chips or Bugles, but the overall resounding mouthfeel was a lot like stale baked potato chips. It was crisp, but a little too brittle, and crumbled as soon as I crunched in.These rated a 3/5 on the company heat scale, but I didn’t find them spicy at all. Adding a little hot sauce definitely made them palatable, but I wasn’t enthused enough to eat more than one or two.

Buffalo Wild Wings Hot Garlic

With the disadvantages of packing up and moving, there are also a number of exciting new ventures to experience. For instance, the sudden appearance of a Foodette crafted world, once scattered, now in the palm of my hand on the stretch of route 9. Our Target was 25 minutes away. Now it’s five, in Hadley. Our Trader Joe’s was a half hour away. Now it’s a mere bus ride to get to all the chocolate chipotle hazelnuts that I want. And where our closest Buffalo Wild Wings was a ten to fifteen minute drive, depending on traffic, and in an obnoxious part of town, I can now saunter over to the sexy strip mall and get wings at my luxury. Or have them delivered to my dorm.

With this new lassitude and complete lack of personal health and awareness, I would go with friends and order a new flavor of wings to see which place in Amherst was the best to get for the best value. Let me precede this by saying that BWW is, by no means, a good value. It’s overpriced for its food. But with a sauce like spicy garlic, there was no passing it up.

An order of twelve wings yielded a pleasant surprise- they can follow orders. I asked for all flats, well done, my standard, and that’s what they gave me. Compare this to Wings Over, a college favorite that refuses to customize orders, and you have my signature, signing my soul away to the BWW conglomerate and corporate offices. Bastards.The spicy garlic sauce is delicious. It’s very garlicky and salty and delivers a good buzz of heat, too. It comes out looking like a vodka sauce with a fantastic kick, and it’s in that rare instance when you can actually taste both flavors that the sauce advertises. However, my one main gripe is that this is offputtingly thick. Like, corn starch is the main ingredient thick. Where the wings were, at one point, crispy, like when I first started eating them, they became soggy in a matter of minutes with this sauce. It’s gloppy and gooey and adheres to the wings as good as any super glue, but texturally, really throws me off the sauce. The flavor can be the ashes of Tupac, but if it looks and feels like an anal lubricant, then baby, I ain’t there.

This is really a shame, too, because as more of a glaze or a regular dip, I could see myself buying this by the bottle. I just don’t see the texture as working out as a staple in my culinary exploits, though, as it really doesn’t seem to go with anything at all.

Archie Moore’s, New Haven, CT

Over Spring Break, I got a chance to try one of Connecticut’s iconic foodie landmarks, Archie Moore’s. Known for their amazing wings, I went one night with my father and his girlfriend to see if they stood up to Wings Over.

We ordered a few appetizers to share, and that ended up being wings for all and the buffalo chicken dip. Having made a dip like that before, I was excited to see what kind of flair Archie Moore’s would put on it. (And yes, these are bad photos, but I didn’t have the camera on me.)The dip came served with tortilla chips, and was made with chunks of chicken, bleu cheese, and the signature hot sauce. It was probably one of the worst dips I’d ever had. It stayed at a median temperature of 4,000 degrees for the entire time that I had it and if I didn’t blow on it for five minutes with a vacuum, it scorched my mouth like buffalo napalm. The flavor was completely overpowering with the bleu cheese. It didn’t seem like they’d used any other flavors to remove the intensity and tang from that, like cream cheese or ranch dressing. There was a ton of chicken, but it was definitely out of a can. I’d bet my money on it, and the chips were straight out of a bag and stale to boot. I choked on one and had to drink a pitcher of water to take the bad flavor away.

Oh, yeah, and it’s a buffalo dip. The only indication of buffalo was a weak vinegar scent, and a slight orange tint to the sauce. For a restaurant that boasts a hearty buffalo sauce, this was not the best dish to get a feeling of that. I’d just make my own next time, because this was pretty bad.After that, I was a little worried to see what the wings would be like. I asked for them to be all flats, and within ten minutes, they came out crispy and sizzling. The sauce had soaked into the wings and left no residue on the outside. Unlike Buffalo Wild Wings, this wasn’t as thick or as messy. The wings were cooked perfectly, each one very crispy and savory on the outside, and there was no breading on them, so the flavor simply relied on the skin’s natural taste and the sauce. I like that.The wings fell right off the bone, and on the inside of each one, there was an orange color from where the sauce had soaked in. The sauce was great. It wasn’t very hot, but it was an excellent texture and had a fantastic paprika, vinegar, and peppery taste that made me wish that I’d ordered more than seven wings. They definitely rivaled Wings Over!Archie Moore’s has other dishes, too, but I strongly advise going with what they’re famous for. It seems like the focus and concentration with the wings really takes away from their overall dining experience. So if you’re a wing connoisseur, dig in, but if you like burgers and fries, there are many better bars and pubs in New Haven, like Sage or Wing Madness.

Wings Over Amherst, Amherst, MA

This is yet another restaurant review, but the food is so damned good! Couldn’t help myself.

This is a culmination of three separate Wings trips, all with sandwiches and different sauces on the chicken. Maybe I’ll just make Wings into a separate category for all their flavors.

This is like delicious food porn. So the three sandwiches I ordered were to give me a taste of the wet sauce vs. the dry rub for the chicken. At some point, I’m going to splurge like there’s no tomorrow and order Wings with all 25 sauces for an ULTIMATE REVIEW. Likely a project with Swagger sometime soon.

But tonight was just three sandwiches, one with West Texas Mesquite, a dry rub, one with Cajun Barbecue sauce, and the other with Golden Barbecue, a mixture of spicy mustard and barbecue sauce- a wet sauce.

The WTM sandwich is freaking awesome. I got it with a slice of American cheese and the cheese gooed and melted all over it. The bun is nice and soft, and contrasts well with the crispiness of the fried chicken. I never thought a chicken rub could so accurately emulate the flavor of barbecue-flavored potato chips, but this hits the spot. It’s salty, it’s spicy, it has a great crunch, and the chicken is just delicious. The dryness of the chicken and the bread goes well with the cheese, which was a nice, thick, melted slice and made the entire thing more…deliciously viscous.


The Golden Barbecue sandwich was really great, too. The sauce reminded me of the Roy Roger’s Gold Rush sandwich, except way more plentiful and more of what the sauce tasted like, instead of the honey honey flavor I imagined. It was a salty, spicy, mustardy, and sweet sauce, really, really good. There were hints of soy sauce and the spices were spot-on perfect. It was more mustard and less barbecue, which surprised me, but was really good as far as texture and flavor went.

The bun and the sauce went really well together, because the bun soaked up all the sauce, but held up to the wetness of it all, which was fantastic, because although the WTM was really perfect, I wanted sometime saucy to make it even more perfect. Unfortunately, the cheese was not a good addition in this one. Although it was another thick and nice slice of perfect American cheese, it floated on top of the sauce on the chicken and didn’t melt at all, and since it was wet, just got gooey and slimy and made the entire experience slightly chalky-tasting. The chicken was, again, perfectly cooked and completely meaty, and the breading maintained a wonderful crispy texture despite the sauce drenching. I just wish the cheese hadn’t screwed it up.

8/10- LOVELY

The last sandwich was the Cajun Barbecue sandwich, which I ate in the restaurant. The only difference between eating in and eating out is that the bun is toasted and a pickle is included. I find it very strange that they use the same dishware as the dining commons here.

The CB sandwich was interesting, because the equivalent of “Cajun” and the sauce is their regular sauce, paired with the spices. Death Cake explained that this was the chicken dipped in barbecue sauce with Cajun spices sprinkled on top- cayenne, paprika, etc. The sandwich was too spicy for me. Not in a Buffalo sauce, “I’m eating this because I have to and I love it” spicy, but a, “Put it down, this is getting irritating” spicy. Which I obviously did not like. I also have a personal irritation with things that are hot, as in heat, and spicy at the same time, because it becomes vastly overwhelming. I didn’t finish this sandwich, which I hate, because the food is so good that I like to finish it. It’s not even that I was full, necessarily, it’s that it was just too much. The concept is good, the flavor is accurate, the heat…not so much.

4/10- OKAY

And now, to the fries! In restaurant, there are so many more options one can get, and I’m quite inclined to go back and try their cheese fries, or their potato skins, and things like that. For delivery, though, you can have waffle fries with seasoning or plain french fries.

The plain fries are good in the restaurant, because they’re crispy and hot and have a soft and fluffy inside, and you can get them with sauces if you’d like. The delivery fries taste like they were switched with my baby cousin’s plastic foods. They’re chewy and soggy and cold, like they’ve been deliberately left outside. And since I get delivery fries, I’ve got to rate these low. I mean, it’s really a hit or miss with the delivery fries, especially if you get them in conjunction with an order instead of as an entire side. Also, be prepared to add salt and pepper- these have none and the experience is that much worse without them.

2/10- BAD

And then, the waffle fries. They’re crispy, massive, and delicious. They are a brilliant bright orange from seasoning, and arrive at your table piping hot. There is a depth to them in texture- there’s a change in the inside, almost like a mashed texture, that is held together in a concentric prison. They’re delicious. So what’s the matter?

It’s the seasoning.

You’d think that the seasoning additions would be really, really awesome. I mean, you can add cajun seasoning, BBQ, ranch, or more. And ranch dressing is awesome, so why not seasoning? I thought that this was a fluke with my chicken, actually, in another sandwich (yes, up for review) that I consumed, but it’s consistent with Wings’s ranch flavoring across the board. There’s an undertone of sweetness, of a strange cinnamon-like flavor with the saltiness. And it doesn’t taste bad, per se, you can still tell that it’s kind of ranch-like in concept, but upon tasting these, you think, “Sweet. Huh.”

3/10- NOT BAD

I’ve thrown in the towel. I’ve added in a Wings category to the sidebar to cover my exploits, and I suspect I’ll end up filling it. It’s the college way, people.

Wings Over Amherst, aka, The Hangar
88 University Drive
Amherst, MA, 01003