With the Super Bowl and March Madness fast approaching, consumer attention will soon be laser-focused on chicken wings. With more than 42% of operators offering wings, according to Technomic Ignite data, it can be hard to stand out to diners. But some restaurant chains sell wings that are clear consumer favorites. Here’s a look at the 10 chains with the most-craveable chicken wings from Q1 to Q4 of 2019, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics platform.
10. Little Caesars
Little Caesars is obviously most well-known for pizza. But 7.3% of consumers surveyed said its wings were worth coming back for. The quick-service chain, which has been innovating order pickup with its Pizza Portals, offers wings in several varieties, including oven-roasted, BBQ, Buffalo and garlic Parmesan.
9. Round Table Pizza
West Coast-based quick-service pizza concept Round Table Pizza also drew reasonably high marks for wings, with 8.1% of consumers considering them highly craveable. Younger consumers are particularly drawn to the chain, with 14.1% of Gen Zers and 9.4% of millennials craving the wings. The chain sells wings covered in seven different sauces, including mango-habanero and lemon pepper, and it offers five dipping sauces for further customization.
8. Pizza Hut
Rounding out the pizza chains on the craveable wings ranking is Pizza Hut, which got high marks from 9.1% of consumers overall and 11.1% of Gen Zers surveyed by Technomic. “I love their barbecue chicken wings,” one respondent said. “Also, they are in walking distance.” Wings are definitely not an afterthought at Pizza Hut, which has a WingStreet brand within its pizza restaurants. The chain has committed to serving antibiotic-free chicken by 2022.
7. Dave & Buster’s
Eatertainment chain Dave & Buster’s received high praise for wings from 12.4% of consumers overall, and from nearly 16% of millennials. That might be due to the concept’s draw as a family and social destination. Dave & Buster’s frequently runs an unlimited wings and video gameplay promotion.
Zaxby’s specializes in made-to-order wings, and 13.8% of consumers overall deemed them highly craveable. The Georgia-based chain is particularly popular with the Gen Z demographic, with 19.4% giving the brand top marks for craveable wings. Said one survey respondent: “Great food and great Buffalo wings at a great price.”
5. Twin Peaks
Breastaurant concept Twin Peaks had 15.2% of consumers praising its chicken wings, far below Hooters, the other chain in its category on the list. But Gen Z overindexed on this chain, with an impressive 21.4% saying the restaurant’s wings are highly craveable. Twin Peaks serves a wide variety of wings, including bone-in, boneless, smoked, grilled and breaded, in a range of spice levels, from classic to blazing.
4. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
Florida-based casual-dining chain Beef ‘O’ Brady’s had 24.7% of respondents overall claiming the chain sells craveable wings. Just 16.4% of Gen Zers surveyed said the same, though. The chain sells made-to-order wings flavored with dry rubs or sauces. “I always like their wings and beer specials,” one respondent said. “Great place to go to watch the game.”
Breastaurant chain Hooters has long been known for chicken wings, and nearly 40% of respondents overall called the offering highly craveable. For millennials, though, that number climbs to 48.2%. The chain recently jumped on the plant-based bandwagon, announcing that it would serve meat-free Unreal Wings at all of its restaurants.
2. Buffalo Wild Wings
Wings-focused sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings was rated high in craveability by a whopping 59.6% of consumers overall. The brand sells boneless and bone-in wings in a range of sizes, from a snack-sized offering to 18 wings. With more than two dozen sauce offerings, the restaurant makes it easy for virtually all consumers to find the heat level and flavor they crave.
Topping the list this year (as well as last year) is Wingstop, with 61.6% of diners overall calling the wings craveable. “The wings are always very good and my whole family loves them,” one respondent said. “Their wings are out-of-this-world delicious,” said another. The fast-casual chain has seen double-digit same-store sales growth recently and earlier this week announced 16 straight years of positive comps growth.