Taste Test: Wendy's Boneless Wings

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Have chicken wings and buffalo sauce replaced hot dogs and mustard and/or hamburgers and ketchup as the archetypal All-American fat-filled protein and condiment? I ask this because the demand for all things wingy or buffalo-sauced is flying ever higher.

In fact, every manner of restaurant - from respected top cheffy establishments to low-dough diners and other assorted greasers - seems to offer such fare. Now even hardcore burger-brained fast-fooders are going over to the bird-brained side in order to reach for their coveted share of all those flapping market dollars.

What I tried: Wendy's Boneless Wings ($4)

Zero at the bone: Wendy's wings are of the "boneless" variety, meaning of course that they're not wings at all but in fact hacked-off clumps of bird meat. But, as hacked-off clumps of bird meat go, these weren't that bad at all.

They were fairly dense and meaty little bundles that were irregularly shaped and seemed to come from a single piece of breast as opposed to those loathsome, highly processed and stringily recomposed nuggety jobbies.

Their breading was not altogether unpleasant either - it was on the thick side, but not ridiculously so. Mostly it just provided a decent and slightly peppery crunch without dominating the entire bite.

Sauce boat: Before opening my three styles of "wings," I could see a surfeit of sauce sloshing all over the transparent plastic lids. Digging in, I noticed the wings were inequally sauced. I preferred the ones with less sauce. Here's a breakdown (sauce names are from Wendy's).

Bold Buffalo with aged cayenne: Aged cayenne? What, is it old? These had plenty of hot red pepper presence but little else. They gave a single-dimensional sting, but with an unpleasant syrupy aspect to it.

Honey Barbecue with real amber honey: Maybe fake honey would've been better. Easily my least favorite. Cloyingly sweet and sticky, with an industrial smokiness. Pretty awful.

Sweet and Spicy Asian: This one was my favorite. Though too heavily applied (as were all sauces), the glaze was a lot like that sweet Thai chili sauce stuff. It was as spicy as the buffalo and as sticky and nearly as sweet as the barbecue, but with much more character than both of those combined. It was garlicky, had some soy and a bit of reigning-in acidity to it, too.

Would I eat them again?: Only the Sweet & Spicy Asian, and only if drunk or on the road.

Spot a new menu item you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail gbenton@columbusalive.com