Wings are flying high on menus, with 43% of the Top 500 restaurant chains offering the crowd favorite, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor. The restaurants range from pizza spots and sports bars to eatertainment venues and, of course, concepts devoted to chicken wings. But where do consumers go to satisfy a wings craving? It’s an especially important question as wings season gets into high gear with the Super Bowl and March Madness close behind it.
To find out the answer, we looked at responses collected in a survey conducted by Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics. Customers’ favorites are ranked from 10th to first, in order of the percentage of recent diners who singled out that restaurant’s wings as craveworthy.
10. Chuck E. Cheese’s
While only 8% of respondents overall found Chuck E. Cheese’s wings craveable, close to 17% of baby boomers said that this family entertainment chain was the place to satisfy their wing cravings. Perhaps the wings on this kid-friendly menu appeal to grandparents who patronize Chuck E. Cheese’s with their grandchildren. The kids may opt for pizza, while the older generation craves the wings coated with sweet chile, hot Buffalo or smoky BBQ sauce.
9. TGI Fridays
The wings at this casual-dining chain received the same overall 8% craveability score as those at Chuck E. Cheese’s, but Gen Z and Gen X consumers ranked them higher—16% and 10%, respectively. Fridays lists both traditional and boneless wings under the appetizer section of its menu and offers shareable wing combos in its party platters
8. Dave & Buster’s
This more grownup eatertainment concept ranked only a little higher—8.3%—in wing craveability than counterpart Chuck E. Cheese’s. Millennials gave Dave & Busters the best rating of any demographic, with a 9.2% score. The menu at this games-and-sports destination offers bone-in and boneless Buffalo wings as both a shareable and appetizer.
7. Pizza Hut
Yum Brands rolled out its WingStreet concept nationally within Pizza Hut locations, offering traditional and bone-out wings with two dry rubs and eight sauce variations. There are the usual flavors, including Buffalo in three heat levels and honey barbecue, along with some WingStreet originals, such as garlic Parmesan and Cajun. Almost 10% of respondents found Pizza Hut’s wings to be craveworthy, with the figure jumping to more than 20% among Gen Z consumers.
Every demographic group put the wings at this chicken chain in the top 10 for craveability. Overall, close to 13% of consumers surveyed cited Zaxby’s wings as craveable, with millennials giving them the highest score. But Gen X, Gen Z and boomers also indicated that they find Zaxby’s food and service “excellent,” specifically calling out “Zax’s sauces” and ”tongue torch wings.”
5. Twin Peaks
Close to 16% of respondents rated the wings at Twin Peaks as craveable, with Gen Z and Gen X giving them the highest scores—20% and 21%, respectively. Comments suggest that consumers especially crave the breastaurant’s Parmesan garlic wings and Nashville hot wings, as well as the fried pickles that accompany orders. The service was also singled out as above par.
4. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
Wings at this sports pub concept were ranked as craveable by 21% of the consumers surveyed, with 29% of Gen Xers singling out the menu item. Specific callouts pointed to Beef ‘O’ Brady’s variety, with respondents citing the “number of wing assortments,” “15 different kinds of hot wings” and “variety of wing choices.” On the flavor front, consumers found specific preparations craveable, such as the blackened and lemon pepper wings, nuclear wings and spicy garlic wings.
Craveability scores really start to climb with the top three chains on the list—all wings specialists. Almost 45% of consumers consider Hooters’ wings to be craveworthy, with the chain receiving high scores from every generation. Baby boomers are especially taken with Hooters as a wings destination, with 54% singling it out. One boomer comment sums it up: “The bucket of awesome wings and cheese sticks are so good that you crave them all the time and look forward to the next visit.”
2. Buffalo Wild Wings
Not surprisingly, two popular wings-centric chains were neck and neck for the top spot. Buffalo Wild Wings came in at No. 2, with a craveability score of 60%, just 0.7 percentage points behind the top chain. But it edged out the No. 1 brand with Gen Z consumers, 62% of whom deemed BWW’s wings the most craveable. This group of younger customers gave high marks to the variety of wings and flavors, which includes fan favorite sauces that debut for a limited time. Recent ones include Jammin’ Jalapeno and Korean BBQ.
Topping the list is Wingstop, with 60.7% of consumers deeming this chain’s wings the most craveable of all. Gen X and boomer respondents gave Wingstop the highest scores—65% and 64%, respectively. One Gen X consumer praised “the perfectly cooked wings and specialty sauces,” while another called out “the excellent wing flavor varieties.” As with BWW, consumers also like the fact that Wingstop has a laser focus on wings, and offers affordable, well-prepared food with enticing flavors.