INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Code red for Super Bowl snackers: There’s a national shortage of chicken wings.
Sunday is the nation’s biggest day of the year for devouring wings with an estimated 1.42 billion eaten: enough for every man, woman, child and infant to eat four wings each.
ClusterTruck and other restaurants can’t keep wings in stock “This is the worst it’s ever been,” said owner Chris Baggott.
ClusterTruck hadn’t had them on hand for almost four weeks, until a shipment arrived Thursday. “Which was a surprise,” Baggott said. “In talking to the chef, there was a lot of horse trading to get them.”
While supplies are usually tighter around the Super Bowl, Baggott said this has never happened before.
Meanwhile, in Speedway, there’s a different problem for Barbecue and Bourbon On Main. “I’m not having trouble getting them,” said owner Marcia Huff. “I’m having trouble paying the price they want for them.”
Prices, which are usually less than $2 a pound, are now above $3 a pound, and there was another 28-cent jump Thursday morning.
“Bad time of year though because everyone wants wings for the Super Bowl, right?” Huff said.
It’s the second-leading seller at the restaurant with 160 pounds a week at least.
Huff said if things continue for a few more weeks, the weekly wing special may have to go, at least for the time being. But, it would take a few more months before she would increase menu prices.
“I’m hoping to ride it out for a little bit. Hopefully it will go back down,” she said.
The National Chicken Council said the shortage is a mixture of things including increased orders from people eating at home during the pandemic.
But with other big snacking events ahead, restauranteurs hope things get back to normal soon.
“Oh, good gosh, yeah, because we’re rolling into March Madness,” Huff said.
Wholesale prices have held steady at ClusterTruck. They’re now ordering their wings a month ahead of time and separate from the rest of their food orders.
Baggott said his distributor says part of the problem is supply chain issues because of farms temporarily shut down in the pandemic months ago.
But, the one thing no one seems to have an answer for: Why just the wings are so hard to get when other portions of meat have been unaffected?
“It’s one piece of bird. What are you going to do with the rest of the chicken?” Baggott said.
Several restaurants said they started noticing the issue about three months ago.
Meanwhile, there’s good news for fans of both ClusterTruck and Barbecue and Bourbon. Both restaurants have all they need to get through Sunday, but Baggott said he makes no promises for Monday. His downtown location is the only one to sell chicken wings.