What Everyone Is Missing in the Buffalo Wild Wing Story
Everyone has heard the story today. It is going viral like it's something new. What everyone is missing is this debate at the heart of the Buffalo Wild Wings lawsuit is nothing new. First, the story.
The debate over exactly what to call the chicken on your plate is causing some problems for the national chicken restaurant and sports bar Buffalo Wild Wings. The plaintiff, Aimen Halim, accuses Buffalo Wild Wings' parent company, Inspire Brands Inc., of falsely advertising.
On the surface, he might have a point. Perhaps it's the wrong point.
He isn't suing because Buffalo Wild Wings' boneless wings aren't from a buffalo. In fact, Buffalo Wild Wings admits their wings contain 0% buffalo. Their statement on Twitter about this lawsuit read:
"It's true. Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken. Our hamburgers contain no ham. Our buffalo wings are 0% buffalo".
I'm relieved. That must be good news for the buffalo at San Angelo State Park. The last thing we want is an angry herd of buffalo heading down to the local Buffalo Wild Wings location on Sherwood Way to protest. The traffic down there can be bad enough during the busiest time of the day.
In the lawsuit, Halim is suing because Buffalo Wild Wing's boneless wings aren't wings. They come from juicy all-white chicken breast meat. He says calling them boneless wings leads customers to believe they are made from chicken wings that have been de-boned.
The lawsuit states: “consumers should be able to rely on the plain meaning of a product’s name and receive what they are promised,”
Everyone is talking about this story as if this issue has never happened before. Even the news outlets covering this seldom mention that this question has been viral on social media for a long time. As exhibit A, here is a video from a Lincoln, Nebraska, city council meeting in August 2020.
Actor Jimmy O. Yang from HBO's Silicon Valley, as reported by Bon Appétit, even calls boneless wings "little white meat lies."
Back in 2018, Food Beast went into great detail about this issue and why more restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings and competitor Wingstop are pushing so-called boneless wings, even though they're actually glorified nuggets.
Because the demand for bone-in wings has skyrocketed, the prices have gone up. To save money, many wing restaurants are marketing boneless wings and sauces to get customers to eat more boneless wing offerings where the profit margin is higher. It has been so successful that bone-in wing prices are beginning to fall.
With all this in mind, do all these chicken-wing purists and Aimen Halim have a point? Did Halim suffer a financial injury due to the alleged false advertising?
I like the boneless "wings" from Buffalo Wild Wings better than the bone-in wings. There I said it. If they called them nuggets, I would still order them, although I might hope for a lower price.
Will this lawsuit succeed? Aimen Halim has three other class action lawsuits. He sued Hefty trash bags because they are labeled "recycling bags." They can be used to store recyclables, but the bags are not recyclable.
That lawsuit was thrown out.
Maybe he would have better luck if he sued Buffalo Wild Wings because their name is misleading. If they're serving breast meat chicken, a less misleading name might be Buffalo Wild Breasts. I shudder to think what kind of clientele might be enticed by that restaurant.