The incredible story of how Buffalo wings were invented

A plate of chicken wings covered in sauce.

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A plate of chicken wings covered in sauce.
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Nitr/Shutterstock

Step into any American bar, and you’ll likely find Buffalo wings on the menu. However, the messy finger food beloved by many is actually a relatively new creation.

Insider Food’s video team went to Buffalo, New York, to find the best wings in town. In the video, Insider producers Herrine Ro and Alana Yzola explained that they were on a mission to find “a crispy wing with a juicy inside and a sauce that is decadent, yet still tangy, yet still has a bite and a kick.”

To kick off their search, the duo visited downtown Buffalo’s Anchor Bar, where Buffalo wings were first created. Although Anchor Bar wasn’t named the best place for wings in the video – Ro and Yzola crowned Duff’s Famous Wings the winner – it’s known as the birthplace of Buffalo wings.

Ro and Yzola also spoke with Michelle Buchholz, the bar’s marketing director, who explained the late-night origin of what is now one of America’s most popular bar foods.

Here’s the incredible story of how Buffalo wings were invented.


Buffalo wings were created at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York.

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Insider’s Herrine Ro and Alana Yzola in Buffalo.
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Insider

Anchor Bar, located at 1047 Main Street in Buffalo, is the birthplace of Buffalo wings.

However, according to Buchholz, only people from outside the city actually call them “Buffalo wings.” Locals simply refer to them as “chicken wings.”


Buffalo wings were invented in Buffalo, New York, in 1964.

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A timeline in the Buffalo Niagara International Airport proudly shows when Buffalo wings made their debut in 1964.
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Insider

The first order of Buffalo wings was served in 1964.

That same year, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Beatles released their first US album.


Buffalo wings were invented by a mother who was cooking for her son and his friends.

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A photograph of Teressa Bellissimo, the inventor of Buffalo wings.
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Insider

Anchor Bar was first opened by Teressa Bellissimo and her husband Frank Bellissimo in 1935. Their son Dominic also worked at the bar.

“Teressa Bellissimo was the mom, cooking in the kitchen, and Dominic was bartending at the bar,” Buchholz explained.


It’s no surprise that Buffalo wings are now a staple at bars across the country — the dish was born from late-night hunger.

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Michelle Buchholz, the marketing director at Anchor Bar.
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Insider

“Dominic and his friends came in at about two in the morning and were hungry,” Buchholz explained. “Dominic asked Teressa if she could make something, and the wings were sitting next to the stock of the soup.”


Chicken wings were traditionally used as stock for soup or simply thrown away.

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A chicken wing from Anchor Bar.
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Insider

Before they became a bar-food staple, chicken wings were traditionally only used to give flavor to stocks and broths.

If nobody wanted the wings, they were simply thrown away, Buchholz explained.


But, this time, Teressa decided to fry the wings and also made some sauce to go with them.

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Buffalo wings are fried in oil before being covered in sauce at Anchor Bar.
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Insider

“Teressa was Italian,” Buchholz told Insider. “So she made some nice sauce and seasoned them with the sauce, and we always say the rest is history from there.”


Teressa’s original sauce is what bars and restaurants now call “medium” today.

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A cook coats freshly fried Buffalo wings in “medium” sauce at Anchor Bar.
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Insider

But Anchor Bar now has more than 15 other flavors on its menu as well, including Mild, Hotter, Barbeque, and “Suicidal.”


Not all purveyors of “Buffalo wings” follow the tradition set by Anchor Bar.

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Ro holds up a wing from Anchor Bar.
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Insider

“Some restaurants tend to just do a hot sauce and butter mixture, but a true Buffalo sauce is a cayenne blend of seasonings,” Buchholz told Insider.

The original Buffalo sauce is a medium sauce blend of cayenne pepper, vinegar, salt, garlic, margarine, and other secret ingredients.


Ro and Yzola were impressed with Anchor Bar’s wings, which cost $21 for 20 pieces.

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The Insider team loved the sauce.
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Insider

Read more: The best wings in every state

Ro and Yzola agreed that Anchor Bar’s wings had a great sauce with a nice amount of heat.

“There’s nothing else that I’ve tried in the past that compares to this,” Ro said. “It has a bite to it. The heat kind of crawls.”

“It was just very juicy to me on the inside, which is super important to me,” Yzola said. “I love this spice.”


To this day, Anchor Bar’s recipe has not changed.

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Chicken wings from Anchor Bar.
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Insider

“The recipe has not changed since its conception,” Buchholz explained.

You can still try Anchor Bar’s original recipe today, or you can sample the many other flavors now on the menu.

Watch Insider’s video on the best chicken wings in Buffalo here.

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