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WUSF's coverage of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.

Want Wings For The Super Bowl? Order While You Still Can

man wearing mask points at board with four lists
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media
As of Wednesday, John Castaneda of McDivot's Wings and Raw Bar had filled his first of four lists of chicken wing orders. He said those who make the second list can expect guaranteed wings, after that, it's less clear.

If you want to munch on some chicken wings during the Super Bowl and haven't ordered them yet, you might want to get on that.

Restaurant owners who sell chicken wings are scrambling to meet customer demand ahead of the Super Bowl due a national shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Chicken Council projects Americans will eat a record 1.42 billion wings while watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers battle the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, up two percent from last year, according to its annual Wing Report.

The council said people ate more wings throughout the pandemic, likely because they relied on takeout more and needed some comfort food.

Despite seeing an 11 percent decline in trips to restaurants from 2019 to 2020, the council said servings of chicken wings were up seven percent.

John Castaneda, owner of McDivot's Wings and Raw Bar in Westchase, said the increased demand is complicating things ahead of the big game.

As of Wednesday, he had four lists for chicken wing orders.

"No. 1 and No. 2 are guaranteed to get their wings,” he said. “No. 3 will probably be guaranteed, No. 4, I don't know. But if you call the day of, good luck.”

Castaneda said he would have hoped to sell 60 cases this Super Bowl, or about 15,000 wings. But he's only got a little more than half of that in stock so far and said his provider is sending what it can in small increments.

“If I can get 50 (cases), I’ll be happy and if we run out, we run out,” he said.

While wings are a people-pleaser, Castaneda said they aren’t exactly big money-makers for businesses, especially with the rise in demand.

He said he started out this month paying about $2.50 per pound of wings, but that price rose to $3.14 this week. And that doesn’t cover all the other costs that go into wing-making, like oil and hot sauce.

Still, Castaneda said he’s happy to do it for his customers, whom he credits for keeping his restaurant afloat during the pandemic.

“People love their wings,” he said. “Trust me, we’re going to sell a lot of wings, and hopefully everybody can, that there’s enough people in Tampa to supply and keep everybody happy.”

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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