In 2011, the good folks from the City of Mesa along with a few notable wing restaurants got together and made the first annual Wingstock event, combining hot wings, live music, beer and the great outdoors into one buffalo wing lover’s wet dream. While we didn’t get to attend the first one, we realized that the fellows of whydidieatthis.com needed desperately to get to Wingstock 2012 and see what all the fuss was about. It should be mentioned that we first learned of the existence of Wingstock from visiting NY Boyz Subz & Wingz, where we viewed the trophy they won for being King of Wings 2011, a title we absolutely could not dispute.
We took our spouses and made the trek to the Mesa Amphitheater, grabbed our media passes (thanks again to the City of Mesa for allowing us the access) and went in pursuit of wingly goodness. Here are our impressions of Wingstock 2012. Enjoy!
1) What were your honest expectations for the Wingstock event?
Xavvi: The words “Wingstock” had me picturing a cold tub of soggy chicken wings and six to twelve obese chicken wing “enthusiasts”, ourselves included” sitting around a Sterno can, playing an iPod and arguing over the complexities of buffalo sauce. Basically, I pictured my normal Saturday nights. So while I wanted badly to check this event out, I tempered my excitement by reminding myself that the only people that get as excited for wings as we do also have bottles labeled “Lipitor” in their medicine cabinet and are encouraged by their doctors to eat Cheerios and get out of the house once in a while. I didn’t expect very much, in other words.
Tyler: I didn’t really know what to expect but I did think it would be pretty low-key. The day of Wingstock actually snuck up on me since no one really talks about it. Several of the wing places we visited prior to going to Wingstock actually had not heard of the event, notably NYPD who we talked to about a few days before the event. Maybe they will have a stand next year. So, due to the seeming lack of publicity I didn’t really expect much of a crowd. Maybe just a few of us fighting over wings like wild animals.
2) So what was it REALLY like?
Xavvi: SO. MUCH. FUN. I was really surprised at the organization of the entire event. There was a much larger turnout than I anticipated, some of the restaurants really got into the spirit of the event, and the competitions were a fun way to get the crowd involved between stuffing their faces with wings and beer. There was stuff for the kids to do, plenty of space to roam, but it never felt empty or dull, and never felt like the aforementioned hog-fest I thought it might have been.
Tyler: It started off slow but the place started filling up quickly. The had a respectable selection of wing joints making an appearance. Several we hadn’t had a chance to try yet. The crowd was pretty diverse. It wasn’t just a bunch of fat dudes out to get their hands on a few handfuls of hot wings. The bands were kind of iffy but the place was lively, the wings were (mostly) good, and we had a really good time. I spent a small fortune on beer though.
3) How was the entertainment?
Xavvi: The first band, Darkness Dear Boy, probably should have been called Darkness Dear Fucking God Please Make It Stop. I’m exaggerating, as always, because they were tolerable as background noise but honestly weren’t worth much else. Johnny Anonymous, the second band, really got into the uptempo vibe we needed after becoming sluggish from a gut full of chicken meat and buffalo sauce. The competition between the City of Mesa and the Town of Gilbert firefighters was good fun for all involved. My only complaint is that they couldn’t find any other song to play during the competitions than the Chicken Dance. Do you know how grating it is to listen to 21 minutes of Chicken Dance? Ever had to listen to half a Nickelback album?
Tyler: I guess I can’t really say I hated the first band, Darkness Dear Boy. They certainly were not good but I spent the time they were playing too transfixed by the wings to pay much attention to them. Johnny Anonymous was much better if only because they were playing covers of old classic songs mostly. They made for a fun atmosphere while we devoured our wings. Watching the Gilbert firefighters out-eat their Mesa counterparts in the most entertaining portion of the wing eating contests was fun. Not to take away from the other two rounds of wing eating gluttony. Watching people cast their dignity and health to the wind for the glory of coming the closest to eating their weight in wings is always pretty entertaining. To touch on the Chicken Dance thing that Xavvi mentioned, it was made even worse by the fact that one of the times they cut off Eye of the Tiger in the middle to start playing Chicken Dance for the contest. If there was ever a good song for a wing eating brawl it is Eye of the Tiger.
4) Yeah yeah, that’s awesome or whatever, but how were the WINGS overall you morons?? (We’ll get to individual accolades later)
Xavvi: Depends on which restaurants we’re talking about. Some places took this event really seriously because they understood it was both a fun event that us regular ol’ folks made the effort to show up to as well as a great way to advertise their restaurant. Some places acted like they were doing us all a favor by showing up (thanks so much!). Some places didn’t show up at all (figuratively). The ones that did come to play ball, considering the limitations of having to cook in a tiny tent outdoors, really knocked the sweat off my scrotum with their drive and effort to deliver a quality product at this festival. The ones that didn’t come to play might as well have been Flancer’s. …Ok, I take that back. Nothing is as bad as Flancer’s.
Tyler: I was equal parts excited and disappointed by the wings. Some of the wing vendors really put in the work to put out a quality product while others just phoned it in. There were a couple of places we had already visited for reviews that were actually making better wings at Wingstock then they did at their own restaurants. A lot of places went the other direction with wings that seemed like they would taste a lot better in the more controlled environments of their usual kitchens. Still any place that put in the work to try and make good wings earned some points with us and we made notes of who we were excited to check out for regular reviews.
5) The King of Wings 2012 was Native New Yorker this year (as voted by the crowd via ballot). How do you feel about this?
Xavvi: Buffoonery. When I heard who won, the first words that came to mind were, “Well, that’s a kick in the nuts.” Look, I don’t hate Native New Yorker one bit. They’re a local mainstay and their wings at the competition were actually some of the best Native New Yorker wings I’ve ever had period, including at their restaurants, so they definitely had a strong showing. There was a guy helping to run that booth that took an active interest in whydidieatthis.com and offered suggestions for our next Native experience, so that was a plus too and we really appreciated the gesture.
Still, there is just no way on God’s green earth or in the crust of Satan’s asshole that anybody born with lips, a tongue, taste buds or anything above 4 braincells could ever say that Native New Yorker had the best wings at this event. Not even top 3. No way in hell. It’s an honest-to-god travesty, and when I found out the result I was legitimately pissed. It crapped all over the hard work that far better wing spots with far less funding had put in. Since it was by popular vote, I can only assume that the majority of people at this event were very, very stupid and in fact might belong in some sort of remedial food training course. So mad. Grrrr. Also, roar. Yes, grrrr and roar.
Tyler: Native New Yorker won King of Wings at Wingstock 2012. I think maybe a recount is in order here. Here’s the thing:
1) Native New Yorker breads their wings. Hot wings are not meant to be breaded. If I wanted breaded wings I would go for some chicken tenders or something. I’ll concede that Native New Yorker made some of the best breaded wings I have tried and I don’t want to disparage them too much since at one point Native was my go-to place for wings but you DO NOT BREAD HOT WINGS. You can order them not breaded at the restaurant but no such luck at Wingstock.
2) The length of the lines at Wingstock were a surprisingly accurate sign of the quality of the wings towards the middle of the event. Once people had started trying places they started figuring out what places had the best wings. Teakwoods, Long Wong’s, Jimbo’s all head some pretty long lines. Native New Yorker’s wasn’t bad either really. NY Boyz line stretched almost all the way to the stage on the other side of the event. There was no other line that even came close.
3) We tried all of the wings. Native’s were decent. I would say they were in the top half. And like Xavvi said we appreciated that they took an interest in what we were saying about them. They seemed to be the only one’s that really took so much of an interest and that definitely counts for something. They were NOT the best wings though. Not by a long shot. Teakwoods, Long Wong’s, NY Boyz, and Jimbo’s were all better. That is just off the top of my head.
I am not sure if people just voted for Native New Yorker based just on name recognition alone or if there was some kind of Florida-esque ballot confusion but I have trouble believing that many people really voted for Native as the best of Wingstock.
6) Ok, but you had to have been happy with the winner of the Hottest Wing Competition, Teakwoods…right? It’s Teakwoods!
Xavvi: Teakwoods is amazing. I love how consistently good their wings are, and their suicide is one of the hottest main menu wings I’ve ever had. Tyler and I were sitting there eating them at one point and saying “Man, that’s hot!” But see…as pissed as I was about King of Wings, I was even MORE pissed about Hottest Wing. This was done by judges. Judges, mind you, that didn’t space out the eating of the hot wings over the course of several hours. No, they just sat down and ate them fairly quickly, not really allowing time for the heat from a wing to dissipate so that they had a clean heat-palate for the next wing. Hence, I have no choice but to assume that they probably ate NY Boyz’ wings somewhere in the middle of their judging experience, thought it was “pretty hot” but not super hot, then took a bit of Teakwoods and almost died. Not from how hot Teakwoods suicide wings were, but from the slow-building excruciating heat of NY Boyz’ wings.
See, here’s the thing: Teakwoods made you sweat a bit. It was hot. Your lips burned. Ouch a little! I mean you can handle it, but wow that stings!
….But there were grown men nearly passing out, vomiting, coughing, gagging, and looking like death incarnate from eating NY Boyz suicide wings. Basically, this was everyone eating Teakwoods’ suicide wings:
And this was everyone eating NY Boyz wingz:
So considering the utter capsaicin-fueled annihilation brought on by NY Boyz, I have a very fucking hard time fathoming how these judges figured that Teakwoods won this. Omar, the owner of NY Boyz, looked PISSED and I don’t blame him. Highway robbery and uptight snobbery, or just sheer ignorance and bad judges? I can’t call that one, but I can tell you that that shit was shit and adding the failure of the judges to properly handle the Hottest Wing competition to the failure of the populace to crown the right restaurant King of Wings left a totally sour taste in my mouth. It was the tooth-snag on an otherwise wonderful buffalo-blowjob.
Tyler: As has been mentioned more than once previously, I am somewhat of a spicy food fanatic. I’ll take on almost any spicy food challenge. NY Boyz suicide wings scare the shit out of me. The toothpick I had at NY Boyz scarred me. We have tackled suicide wings all over the Valley and we have had some really spicy wings. Still nothing has come close to that damn toothpick.
At Wingstock we had Teakwood’s suicide wings. They were extremely spicy. I think they stepped it up a notch for this event and made them hotter than they normally do. Xavvi and I even discussed how bad our mouths were burning after having those. We did not try the suicide wings at NY Boyz at Wingstock. We made the decision not to go for those wings because when we finally throw all sense out the window and take on the NY Boyz suicide wing challenge we want to be surprised.
Given that, I can not with 100%, absolute certainty say that NY Boyz had the hotter wings. I can say that I didn’t see tears streaming out of people’s eyes after eating Teakwoods wings. I didn’t see grown men go in thinking they were badasses and then chicken out after dipping a finger in the sauce at Teakwoods. I didn’t see anyone sprinting to the restroom after eating Teakwood’s wings. I saw all of those things happen with NY Boyz wings.
7) Best wings at Wingstock? Worst?
Xavvi: We’ve extolled the virtues of NY Boyz enough in this article alone that people are going to think Omar is paying us to mention them, so I won’t say anything more about them than that it was the absolute best wing at the festival in my opinion. Teakwoods was great as always, it’s like we expect them to be this stellar and they don’t ever do anything to let us down. Long Wongs (Stapley/US60) was somewhat up and down when we went to review them but their showing at Wingstock restored my faith in them, GREAT Habanero wings. Cogburn’s was quite the surprise and it inspired us to make them the first place we visited post-Wingstock. And Jimbo’s Good Time Grill seriously shocked us with the quality of their wings. We’re going there for sure.
Worst wings? Man, Antar’s made a case for worst wing, and they were really fighting hard to hold on to it. They looked bored. The wings were pointless. Same could be said for Fat Willy’s which I literally had to go look up because they just had a sign printed on a piece of paper and two people sitting there like they were too busy munching on leprechaun-turds to care about the bad wings they were serving. We didn’t even finish those, the few bites we took were so sub-par it felt like an assault on our mouths.
Tyler: I think NY Boyz had the best wings at Wingstock 2012. This was not a big surprise. We knew they were going to be a strong showing and they were the defending King of Wings champion. No upsets here.
There were a lot of excellent places though and I wouldn’t say that NY Boyz was the obvious choice. I think you could make a strong argument for Teakwood’s or Long Wong’s being the best. Long Wong’s wing were better at Wingstock then they were when we went to Long Wong’s itself.
Honorable mention for Cogburn’s, Jimbo’s, and Native New Yorker. All three put out some quality wings and put some work into what they were doing.
As far as worst wings, Fat Willy’s put out a mediocre effort and had possibly the most bland wings. Antar’s wasn’t even cooking the wings at Wingstock. Everybody else dragged in their deep fryer’s and grills while Antar’s had their one person staffing the booth grab some wings out of the cooler and throw them into a warmer. Maybe the wings are better in the place but I was certainly not impressed with the effort.
My choice for the grand champion of the worst wings at Wingstock 2012 goes to Tilted Kilt. It’s a shame really because I don’t think it was because they didn’t try but more just improper methods for cooking and storing the wings. After they cooked the wings they kept them in those metal warmers with aluminum foil on top where they were steamed until serving. This left them soggy and the meat falling off the bones but not in a good way. I couldn’t even finish the wings I ordered from them. Omar from NY Boyz was giving them some tips later on so maybe that helped them out. Tilted Kilt won the most cleavage award though.
What else do you want to add? Thoughts on individual places? Funny anecdotes? Any heartburn?
Xavvi: I promised a dude named Pasil (yep, Pasil. I thought he was saying Basil but he wasn’t, and as a man with an odd name myself I have to say that’s a fucking cool name) that I’d put his pic on here, and I dont welch on promises. This guy was 15 and was one of the first people we saw with that odd combination of guts, bravery, balls and sheer stupidity to try NY Boyz suicide wingz. He doused the wing in ranch, he had to fight to eat one, he looked like he might die, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t out-perform men twice his age and three times his size. Mind you, once he ate the hellstick of chicken, he ran to the bathroom and came back somehow looking even worse like he might actually and seriously die but that’s common from eating those things. I asked him for a quote and all he could eek out was “It was HOT.” No shit dude, but no one can fault you for not finding the words to properly convey that your mouth was now housing demons.
The tears streamed from his face like I had just told him I ran over his dog and then served it to a homeless dude, his cheeks were red and swollen, but the guy did his family proud. And his mom was cute in her exuberant and supportive ways. Also, she was cute in the normal way. Also, I’d like her number. Don’t tell my wife.
Tyler: There is not a whole lot to say that wasn’t already covered. We covered the reactions to NY Boyz suicide wings which was probably the most entertaining part of the day.
My wife would yell at me if I didn’t mention that Cogburn’s gave us some much needed sunscreen. So, bonus points for them.
Oh, and I snatched a bee out of the air. Still have a mark where the fucker stung me too.
What a good time it was. The weather was perfect, the wings were abundant, the music was lively, the stomachs were full of chicken and the hearts were full of joy. Here’s to hoping next year’s Wingstock is even bigger and badder…and that they get the awards right next time. C’MON, NATIVE NEW YORKER BEST WING ARE YOU SERIOUS??
Ok, ok, I’m done.
Here are some of the other pictures of Wingstock 2012.[nggallery id=1 template=sample4] Tags: hot wings, hottest wings, king of wings, Mesa, Serves Beer, suicide wings, wing event, Wingstock
This post was written by Xavvi