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Lighter wings soar

A sports bar’s bonus for cutting calories is a cut in costs.

Between the Super Bowl and March Madness, the nine locations of Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar sell several tons of chicken wings, says President Gary Huether Jr. However, the bar staple wasn’t as popular with female customers—about half of its clientele. Women were hesitant to dig in, Huether learned, because of the high calorie count. To develop a lighter version, R&D started with unbreaded chicken-breast chunks which it bakes instead of fries. Guests ordering the wings can have them tossed with one of the same 30 sauces available on all the wings. “We introduced these when wing prices were a high $2 a pound,” says Huether. “The breast pieces cost 20 to 25 percent less, yielding better margins.” Today, the Skinny Wings represent 15 to 20 percent of wing sales. 

Arooga’s Skinny Chicken Wings

The chain specs one-ounce chunks of boneless, skinless chicken-breast meat. The chunks are cooked in a conveyor oven for a little more than 5 minutes, tossed with sauce (ranging in spiciness from mild garlic herb to blazing ghost pepper) and served with a side of low-fat ranch dressing. The wings come in at one-third the calories of the traditional wings and are priced the same: $4.99 for five, $9.59 for ten, and on up to 50 pieces. 

Smart Swaps

Instead of ...Try this ...
Breaded chicken wingsBoneless, skinless chicken-breast pieces
Frying in oilBaking
Blue-cheese or ranch dressingLight ranch dressing


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