Buffalo Wild Wings sued by Chicago man because their 'wings' are breast meat
When a restaurant fries up a chunk of chicken breast, covers it in Buffalo sauce and calls it a wing, is it a harmless little issue of semantics, or consumer fraud?
A new federal lawsuit makes no bones about it: The suit alleges the practice is fraud and companies like Buffalo Wild Wings are duping customers by selling chicken wings that aren't in fact wings.
Aimen Halim of Chicago filed the lawsuit against Buffalo Wild Wings on Friday, saying he went into the Buffalo Wild Wings location in Mount Prospect, Illinois back in January and ordered "boneless wings."
"Unbeknownst to plaintiff and other consumers, the products are not wings at all, but instead, slices of chicken breast meat deep-fried like wings," the lawsuit reads. "Indeed, the products are more akin, in composition, to a chicken nugget rather than a chicken wing."
The Los Angeles lawyers who filed the lawsuit are seeking other consumers who also have eaten boneless wings at one of the chain's hundreds of locations across the nation.
"This clear-cut case of false advertising should not be permitted, as consumers should be able to rely on the plain meaning of a product’s name and receive what they are promised," according to the lawsuit, obtained by USA TODAY.
'Our wings are 0% buffalo'
Buffalo Wild Wings did not directly comment on the lawsuit when reached by USA TODAY, but pointed to a cheeky tweet sent out earlier in the day that poked fun at the litigation.
"It's true," read the tweet on Monday. "Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken. Our hamburgers contain no ham. Our buffalo wings are 0% buffalo."
Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken.
Our hamburgers contain no ham.
Our buffalo wings are 0% buffalo.
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) March 13, 2023
Some commenters didn't see the humor.
"Then don't call them wings," one man wrote.
"Chicken nuggets. They’re chicken nuggets," wrote another. And another: "Nice try but Buffalo stands for the city not the animal. Your wings should be real. Stop being deceptive."
Others said the lawsuit was "asinine."
"This lawsuit is so stupid," one user wrote. "I don’t even eat chicken but I know boneless wings are made of breast meat."
A money-saving change
Many restaurants started using breast meat to make chicken "wings" following the Great Recession in 2008, when breast prices plummeted but wings did not, according to the lawsuit.
Businesses that made the change soon saw the resulting profits, with many continuing the practice despite the end of the recession.
"It seems clear why Buffalo Wild Wings began selling boneless wings, and why it has continued to purposefully mislead consumers: a profit motive," the lawsuit says.
The company should have changed the name of boneless wings to something more appropriate, like chicken poppers, the lawsuit said, pointing to other restaurants who make clear what they are selling.
Papa John's, for instance, sells Buffalo chicken poppers and describes the dish as all-white chicken breast meat.
Chicken wings are more expensive than chicken breast, and the bottom line is that labeling the meat incorrectly is wrong, according to the lawsuit.
"Had plaintiff and other consumers known that the products are not actually chicken wings, they would have paid less for them, or would not have purchased them at all," the lawsuit said. "Therefore, plaintiff and consumers have suffered injury in fact, as a result of defendants’ deceptive practices."
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Buffalo Wild Wings sued because their 'wings' are breast meat