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Chicken Wing Prices - RIDICULOUS!!!

Is it just me or have chicken wing prices gone through the roof in the past year or so?! Aren’t they available wholesale for $1.60-1.90 per pound?! I just looked at Swiss Chalet’s menu and 8 wings are $8.99… even worse, I’ve seen them for $10.99 per pound at many restaurants in Southern Ontario. This is ludicrous!!!! Are people actually ordering wings at that price? I missed out on the 80’s when a pound of wings was $2…. :(

I can drive across the border to Niagara Falls, NY in 40 mins and get 50 wings for $29.99 US. That would easily feed 2 hungry guys.

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  1. I concur with your rant...that's why I would only go for wings when it's wing nights. Nowadays, it seems like every restaurant is doing wings and for some reason the restaurants feel that it's arbitrary to charge the same amount (8.99 to 10.99 a lb) relative to other mains on the menu. It seems like 8.99 is more or less the standard nowadays and it's kind of shameful especially when you end up with 7 or 8 tiny tasteless wings.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ragged25

      I have a hard time believing that restaurants sell many wings when it's not "wing night". Almost everything else on the menu is a bargain compared to chicken wings.

      1. re: ragged25

        What's worse is they pile on when you ask for an extra order of carrot sticks and celery - four little pieces of each for $2?!

      2. Niagara Falls beckons...

        1. I suppose that if your time is worth nothing and your car runs on fresh air, going to eat wings in the USA may be a deal. But if I really need to eat wings (which I rarely do anymore) I'll just walk over to Brass Taps on a Monday and eat their 1/2 price wings.

          15 Replies
          1. re: foodyDudey

            Wings are not cheap for restaurants to buy either. Well they are if you are buying them in the small fryer wing size, which you will get about 15 to a lb but they are all skin and bones. Most restaurants go for the roaster wing model, which is a much larger wing. Keeping in mind there are only 2 wings per chicken, (which is four pieces) most restaurants purchase them at about $6.50 a kg, so about 2.98 a lb. Take into account fryer time (wings just kill deepfryer oil) and it costs roughly $70.00 for oil for a deepfryer and an hours worth of employee time. Then also take into account the time needed to cook the wings, the initial outlay of cost for the fryers and training, the plates, replacement costs, fuel (natural gas) sauces and rubs you may put on them, napkins your customers use, clean up time, taking into account slow times you need to cover in a restaurant in order to stay open, and employees wages $9.99 doesn't really seem that bad (for those of you trying to keep score, about 9% of that is profit) so for most restaurants every LB of wings you buy they only make about $1.00 profit... You do know that the only reason most restaurant sell wings in the first place is to get you to buy beer, because really...thats where the money is.

            1. re: BusterRhino

              I would have expected wings to cost much less than $3/lb when I can get legs with thighs attached for less!

              1. re: foodyDudey

                When was the last time you went to a pub and bought legs and thighs for legs and thighs night. Nobody eats them, it's why most restaurants will give you dark meat before white, because rarely anyone (well I do) goes into a restaurant, orders chicken and asks for Dark meat only. Even in a grocery store there is always more white than dark on the shelf. Chicken mcnuggets, almost all forms of shapped and breaded chicken etc are done with dark meat...It's too fatty (bah I say...get a grip, put down the puff pastry and eat dark meat).

                1. re: BusterRhino

                  I think that the reason people don't order white meat is they like chicken which does not taste like chicken, and fish must not taste like fish! They like it bland and nondescript.

                  1. re: foodyDudey

                    Interesting. Most prepared chicken, whether McNuggets, fingers, or taquitos, comes from mechanically deboned chicken, and appears white. I know it is held together by meat glue (don't ask, but it doesn't have to be labelled), and these products sell better than raw chicken parts. Maybe because they are bland and easy to prepare or eat.

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      Sorry, I meant to say they don't like DARK meat! It has too much flavor compared to white meat.

                      1. re: foodyDudey

                        While I'll eat dark meat, I don't like the texture as much as white meat.

                        1. re: lister

                          I am not a fan of dark meat at all. The texture, appearance, everything about it puts me off. Greasy, heavy, I just don't like it.

                    2. re: BusterRhino

                      not me man.. swiss chalet ... double leg dinner plz!

                      ooh ya.

                      and i'd be more inclined to believe the margin on a lb of wings is closer to $3/ order.(IMO .... as this can be argued in so many ways how you divy up the variable costs)

                      1. re: plug

                        Ditto on the dark. When I visited Windsor often, we'd cross over to Detroit for Church's chicken. The special was always "dark meat only", and you'd get nearly 50% more pieces than if you ordered white meat. Legs, drums, and thighs, slathered in their hot sauce - yum!

                  2. re: BusterRhino

                    At certain point in the last couple of years, due to production levels, didn't wings become more expensive then chicken breast? Or at least it became more cost effective to cut up a chicken breast into 3 or 4 pieces, bread and fry them and then sell them as "Boneless Wings"?

                  3. re: foodyDudey

                    I live in Stoney Creek (East Hamilton) so it's only about a 30-40 minute drive to Niagara Falls, NY... the wings at Gagsters or Sammy's are well worth the $8 in gas I use to get there and back. The pizza is unlike anything in Hamilton too. Amazing.

                    For people in Toronto... it's a different story. It might not be worth the drive or time.

                    1. re: cupidom

                      Buzzy's have great wings in Niagara Falls, I seriously love this place.

                      1. re: aser

                        I like Buzzy's wings and pizza. I ordered take-out too.

                        1. re: ace123

                          Its the pizza, its the pizza.
                          I have teh white.

                  4. Chateau Cluck now charges a $1.50 white meat premium on their 1/4 chicken dinner.

                    (and continues to serve real fries....hurray!)



                    3 Replies
                    1. re: toronto guy

                      I was in Costco this am and saw a large styrofoam platter of wings in the deli section for what was a very low price. Not being all that interested in wings at the time I didn't memorize weight or price.

                      Anyone have experience with the Costco wings.

                      1. re: Herne

                        I was hooked on this vietnamese chicken wing recipe for a while and bought large amt of wings from Costco around $3-4 per pound. It is still more expensive than the stuff I can get from a cheap grocery store (often at $2/lb) but much less work. There is good amt of meat on the bone, already separated so you don't have to give yourself tendonitis cutting them into 3's (can't use the tip anyways), and not as overwhelmingly rotund (makes one wonder about growth hormones) or hairy!

                        1. re: Herne

                          Costco's wings are okay. They are bigger and cheaper than what you get at the mainstream grocery stores like Loblaws, but you can get much larger ones for far cheaper at any asian grocery store. Although I have noticed that they have become increasingly expensive over the years.

                      2. i will you sadden even more as i remember a place that had 5 cent wings every wednesday and thursday night.....

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: ingloriouseater

                          And I remember a place that offered free wings with any drink purchase on Monday nights in the mid-90s. That only lasted a few months, before the price went up to $0.05 a wing. ;-)

                          Just found this site geared towards wingnuts and frugal wingnuts : http://toronto.on.hotwings.ca/#a=43.6... , which finds cheap daily deals on wings in the GTA. Thanks to the site, I found out that Grace O'Malley's offers wings for $2/lb on Monday nights, with a (alcoholic) beverage purchase. Cheaper than what some of you are paying for raw wings. Guess Grace O'Malley really want you to drink beer on Monday nights. http://www.gracies.ca/popUp/promo.asp...

                          Grace O'malley's
                          14 Duncan St, Toronto, ON M5H3G8, CA

                          1. re: prima

                            Probably about as meaty as deep-fried popsicle stix---yum!

                          2. re: ingloriouseater

                            doesn't any commodity rise in price, the more popular it becomes?

                            1. re: betsydiver

                              absolutely it does, in some countries pork ribs are a throw away item - nobody eats ribs like North American's do, same as chicken wings. It's a NA centric attitude. I remember when you could buy Tri Tip roasts for about $1.00 lb because otherwise they were just destroyed for ground beef, now...sheesh, same as hanger steaks... Both garbage cuts up until a couple years ago.

                              1. re: BusterRhino

                                Same with all the offal they serve at places like the Black Hoof... They must pay $0.79/lb for the raw ingredients

                                The Black Hoof
                                928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                1. re: foodyDudey

                                  Actually I am not sure about the prices on offal are, although Awful I know that offal is highly highly regulated by the government of Ontario and there are only a couple of processors who do it, and they go through hell.

                                2. re: BusterRhino

                                  My dad used to be in the Royal Canadian Navy. He told me about voyages to New Orleans in the 50's, when you could buy shrimp in New Orleans for $0.15/lb. My Chinese wife used to buy fish heads for $0.29/lb in Richmond Hill until the huge influx of Asians; now they're $2/lb. One man's garbage is another's gustatory delight!

                                3. re: betsydiver

                                  Good point. Originally, the Colonel sold his fried chicken recipie to restaurants as part of the menu. Stand alone franchises came later. At our local supper club, Dad would get a free bucket of wings with each barrel he brought home.

                                  Wings were not deemed worthy for the original KFC.

                                  Many a lunch box at school was loaded with wings.

                                4. re: ingloriouseater

                                  My heart just tore a little bit... damn, if only I was 10 years older!!! All those 5 cent wings could have been mine!!!

                                  1. re: cupidom

                                    I bet you can still get 15 cent chicken hearts if you want those :-)

                                    I wonder why sports bars here aren't selling grilled marinated chicken livers, those are cheap and could become popular!

                                    1. re: foodyDudey

                                      Those chicken hearts, giblets and gizzards are getting harder and harder to find. I stock up when I see them.

                                      Ya, I don't know why rumaki aren't more common in sports bars.

                                      1. re: prima

                                        I was thinking they could have flavours such as tandoori, vindaloo, hot sauce, honey garlic... those would taste pretty good.

                                        And a few prairie oysters on the side, those must still be cheap as they are not popular yet. We just don't have enough testicle festivals up here, there are many in the USA. (not that I'm interested, but others may be)

                                        1. re: foodyDudey

                                          Actually I bet the next big thing in North America will be deep fried chicken skins, it's about the only thing I can still get for almost nothing at all. Seriously, I bet within 2 yrs they will be on menus all over.

                                          1. re: BusterRhino

                                            I agree, I had thought about that before my last post but forgot to mention them.

                                            Another part that seems to be quite pricey is ox tail. I think it's at least $8/lb.

                                        2. re: prima

                                          You might want to check out Asian grocers. T&T always has at least gizzards and hearts.

                                  2. This article is a bit old but it actually speaks to the pricing drivers of wings... I thought it was weird that all these QSRs are coming out with 'boneless wings' until I read this article.


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ginkonut

                                      The article says “Everybody was into breasts because it’s lower fat” All I can say is I guess that is true, if your a chicken

                                    2. A year and a bit ago, I could buy 4 raw wings to a pound with the tip,for $2.99 at Bruno's in Pickering. They were really good with a lot of meat on them. They went up to $3.49 for the summer and are now either $3.59 or $3.69 a pound and they are a fraction smaller, 5 to a pound.

                                      In other words, the price of chicken has gone up.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Dflip

                                        Fresh and meaty baby back ribs are a relative bargain at $3.99/lb


                                        1. re: Dflip

                                          Exactly. Wholesale roaster wings (from, say, St. Andrews or the Butcher Shoppe) are about $3.25-3.50 a pound if memory serves. And that is about six or seven to a pound I think.

                                          St. Andrews Fish and Chips
                                          1589 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P2Y3, CA

                                          Butcher Shoppe
                                          121 Shorncliffe Rd, Toronto, ON M8Z, CA

                                        2. My sense is that chicken wing prices in many restaurants has nothing to do with the price of chicken wings at the butcher.
                                          I'd be willing to bet that most restaurants serving wings are buying pre-portioned, breaded frozen wings in a plastic bag from a food service company. So the price of the wings for the customer is based on the foodservice price....

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cubmike74

                                            your sense would be incorrect. most operators buy the same bulk wings and split themselves. pre-portioned and breaded products cost much more.

                                            restaurants buy a foodservice price or wholesale through meat suppliers. often the same supplier will be used for foodservice (restaurant/bar) and retail (butcher)