Why The Flats Are The Best Part Of Chicken Wings (Yes, Better Than The Drums), Explained » VSB

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Why The Flats Are The Best Part Of Chicken Wings (Yes, Better Than The Drums), Explained

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What are chicken wings?

Bottomless brunch buffets in Heaven, unexpected direct deposit, updated appliances, and the squirting orgasm are possibly the only things consistently better than well seasoned and properly cooked wings.

What about bad wings?

I’m trying to think of an analogy to articulate and contextualize the cocktail of disappointment, anger, incredulousness, and confusion that occurs when faced with a shitty batch of chicken wings. Let me put it this way: Let’s say you were so hyped up by Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled, Unmastered that you actually went to an actual physical store to actually buy the actual physical CD. And then you rushed to your car, ripped off the wrapping, and frisbeed it into your car’s CD player. Which you’ve never actually even used before. And then the music starts. And then your jaw drops and your face droops. And then…and then you realize you actually bought a Big Sean mixtape. A Big Sean mixtape that actually had the audacity to call itself The Best of Big Sean.

This is how it feels to be served some acrimonious-ass wings. It makes you want to shank a motherfucker.

I see. Well, when did you discover wings?

My first memory of a wing in my mouth stretches back to when I was 10. 11, perhaps. I was playing Monopoly with my parents and my sister — one of those marathon games where the winner actually feels like they’ve actually won actual money — and my mom made some wings. I remember placing one in my mouth, savoring the juicy and crunchy deliciousness, and just not giving a fuck about Park Place anymore.

Also, the story of my relationship with the chicken wing can not be told without including my stint in Buffalo during college. It was there I discovered the joy of putting indeterminately creamy white sauces — ranch or blue cheese — on the wing. (Also, I learned that dipping pizzas into indeterminately creamy white sauces increased the taste of the pizza by 7%. Unfortunately, they also increase the caloric content by 235%, so the not-burning-2000-calories-a-day-through-basketball present day me has had to stop doing it.)

You live in Pittsburgh, correct?

Correct.

Where can one find the best wings in Pittsburgh?

Surprisingly, Senor Frogs on West Liberty Avenue. They’re also exceedingly cheap there. Which — the cheapest food option also being the best — never happens. It’s like calling an exterminator to deal with a fruit fly problem in your kitchen, and having that exterminator be Elise Neal.

That might have been the worst analogy I’ve ever heard. 

I know. I just needed an excuse to mention Elise Neal. Related: My homie White Kate has an awesome Pittsburgh wings blog.

So, what are the flats? And what are the drums?

Well, chicken wings as we know them are actually wing dings. They’re not full wings. They’re wings separated in two. (Which, when it’s said aloud, sounds really cruel and painful. It’s bad enough that we’re eating a chicken’s wings. Which is how they fly and shit. But then we disfigure them before putting them into our mouths. Which somehow seems even worse. If there are any chickens reading this, I’m sorry, man.)

Anyway, when this separation happens, you’re left with the flats and the drums.

Flats (pictured below)

flats

Drums (pictured below)

drums

Ok. So, in the title you state that the flats are better.

I did.

But, after looking at the pictures, it seems like the drums have more meat.

They do.

If you love wings so much, how can the part that actually has less chicken be better?

Great question! This is the part of the drums vs flats conversation that the pro-drums camp references. If you prefer the part of the chicken wing that has less chicken meat, they say, you don’t really love the chicken wing. Ultimately, they’re questioning and challenging the pro-flats camp’s love and commitment. Basically, there’s no difference between pro-drum people and Bernie Sanders supporters.

But this argument neglects to consider the essence of the chicken wing. It is not meant to be a full piece of chicken. If you wanted a full piece of chicken with a shitload of chicken meat, you’d get a full piece of chicken. So the dynamics of consumption change. And with the chicken wing, having a shitload of chicken meat just isn’t as important as the taste and texture of the skin. This, not the meat, is what makes the chicken wing the chicken wing.

And, for that reason, the flats reign supreme. The drums might be more inherently chicken. The flats, however, are more inherently chicken wing.

That’s some deep shit, man. Mystical, even. 

Chicken wings aren’t just awesome because they’re delicious and cheap. They’re awesome because eating them can become a Zen-like experience. And the flats are the most Zen.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • #allwingsmatter

    Saw this recipe on Instagram this morning.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BDGFM7JsEZz/

  • Terrible. Drums forever. Easier to dip in ranch or honey mustard.

    • Damon Young

      so, you prefer drums because you’re lazy?

      • LadyIbaka

        There’s hardly any meat in a flat! What’s the appeal?!?!

        • I’m here to rep for the big meat gang.

          • ChokeOnThisTea

            Rep on, Ricky. Rep on.

          • Amen

            Larry Hoover?
            …I’m sorry.

        • Kas

          Let’s be honest chicken flesh doesn’t taste like much. The flavor is all in the skin and the seasoning. The ratio of skin to flesh is highest on the flat. All kidding aside, are you also a flat earth believer? :)

          • In that case, call me B.o.B!

          • Gbadebo

            Sounds like somebody doesn’t know how to cook their chicken right man!! Have to marinate son!

            • Kas

              On this glorious Friday, I am above shots fired.

              • Gbadebo

                Ha, it’s all love man

                • Kas

                  I have been letting off shotgun blasts all day. I just couldn’t think of a good comeback for you.

          • L8Comer

            And the bone! Bone to meat ratio higher with flats, thus better flavor

            • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

              I think it great debate also boils down to a white meant – dark meat preference (even though the drum is technically dark meat too. Also, this probably breaks down along chicken skin lines as well…

              • L8Comer

                That’s a good observation…I guess the wing is the darker of the two meats, which is my preference. I like my skin more crispy than fatty. I hate those drumlet things… they are the devil. The ratio of skin to chicken to bone and the crispiness of a wing is just better. It just is. it just is.

                • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

                  i agree. but I don’t hate the drum. I love it after the flat.
                  #TEAMWHOLEWING

      • If it works for big white girls, it can work for drums.

    • uNk

      Not all wings need ranch though, IJS

      • KNeale

        Except why would you not though?!….Ranch is life.

      • Ranch is trash sauce.

        • KNeale

          *throws Holy Water*

        • IsitFridayyet?

          Hmm, you don’t like Catfish or Ranch…

          I’m not saying that you’re the Feds, but if someone were to say “Hey, [isitFridayyet?’s gov. name] who’s the Feds?” I may point in your direction.

          • Pardon me if I prefer seafood and condiments to have a certain level of gumption about them.

            “Hey, [isitFridayyet?’s gov. name] who’s the Feds?” I may point in your direction.” <——

            I'm the "Fed" but you seem to be advocating snitching.

            http://cdn.meme.am/instances/250×250/60654732.jpg

          • Kas

            I eat catfish in private, but publicly claim I don’t. #Bougiepeopleproblems

            • Amen

              Ninjas are ashamed of catfish now? What is happening????

              • Kas

                It’s the pig of freshwater. Lobsters are the roaches of the sea but tell Damon. They changed his life. I eat it all, just put on airs in public at the meetings.

                • Raven

                  I thought crawfish was the roach of the sea. ;-)

                  • Kas

                    Crawfish is freshwater.

                    • Raven

                      Still a roach

        • miss t-lee

          You’ve gone too far this time.

          Homemade ranch is a perfection.

      • Question

        Bad wings need ranch. Good wings need nothing. Not even sauce.

        • Kemse

          Baked with all the seasoning in that crispy skin……yes.

          • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

            Weeeelll….

    • FarbissinaPunim

      Drum gang all day!

      • KB

        This. The best chicken wings I’ve had I barely used my ranch sauce.

    • God Shammgod

      Your first problem is that you dip your wings in ranch. You don’t deserve nice things.

      • KNeale

        *sings “theres a stranger in my house”*

        who are you people? ni99as is acting like they dont do ranch? since when? why? stop the madness!!

        • IsitFridayyet?

          People who don’t do Ranch probably don’t do other things, like find joy, happiness, thinking about World Peace etc.

          They can’t be trusted.

        • Kas

          I don’t do Ranch

          • Nik White

            I don’t mess wit Black People Katsup either-bleech!

            • Kas

              I have never heard it described that way. Will add to jargon for next Bougie meeting.

        • God Shammgod

          We are people with functioning taste buds, thank you very much. Tuh

          • If I had to torture someone and didn’t have any Peeps and Aristocrat vodka handy I would use ranch.

          • KNeale

            I’ve never met a single person in real life he said they don’t like ranch. I’ve met people who prefer other condiments over ranch. I’ve met people who won’t eat ranch on the same things I will. But I’ve never met anyone that told me out and out they don’t like ranch dressing. This is an odd sensation.

            • Kas

              Since we doing Friday confessions. At best, I tolerate sweet potato pie.

              • Soulqueerian

                I’ve been waiting for a chance to randomly confess my sins. I want to come out of the closet: I HATE ADELE’S SINGING.

                Also, drums are for suckers. 80% gristle, every time. Flats have all the delicious tender meat with none of the fat. They don’t even require chewing – critical to someone such as myself, who does NOT put chicken to her mouth, for cleanliness purposes.

                You just pick up the flat, you pop it in half and the meat slides off the bone. A perfectly cracked flat is like a perfectly cracked snow crab leg. Flats are the snow crab legs of chicken!

                As for ranch. It’s a known fact that terrorists hate three things: America, chocolate and ranch dressing. I’m not saying Tim McGriff and them are terrorists. I’m just saying they probably are not NOT terrorists…

                • Kas

                  So we friends even though you stole my girl? :)

                  • Soulqueerian

                    As long as you don’t like Adele either, we straight. I can’t take that bellowing!

                • L8Comer

                  Flats all day! Always been that way, stay that way.

                  My confession: I DON’T like buffalo wings at all. I don’t like the sauce. I also don’t like ranch or blue dressing.

                  • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

                    Who are you people???

                    • L8Comer

                      Yep. Dare I take it a step further and confess I generally don’t like hot sauce… Buffalo sauce reminds me of hot sauce. I can tolerate it… but ehhh, why would I? Just not for me.

            • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

              I know someone who is very black and love wings, but does NO WHITE SAUCES.
              #smh

        • Enatiomer

          Since all the chick-fil-a sauces. They got our taste buds set upppp!

        • AquaTeamV3

          Ranch completely suffocates the flavor of the BBQ wings

          • KNeale

            Ok so you don’t necessarily eat ranch on everything. But there are about a million wing variations. Life is full of opportunities to dip something in ranch dressing.

        • AnswerMe

          Choosing ranch over blue cheese or ANYthing else, is like opting to go to Walmart when you can go to Target.

          • Conrad Bess

            Who are these people? Ranch? RANCH? It’s blue cheese or nothing. VSB needs a moderator for these people.

      • Tiff McGriff

        Ranch is disgusting. lol

      • How dare you

    • Siante

      Lamb & Honey mustard tho?

      • Never on lamb

        • Siante

          well as long as you don’t mix the two lol

  • LadyIbaka

    Give me drums in my life, keep em drumming
    Keep em drumming till my tummy is fully!
    Sing hosanna, sing hossana????

    Yesterday, I was on mission impossible, I had to eat wings and wings did I consume till I couldn’t no more! Started with the drums, now we here! I ate the flats, because I couldn’t bear to waste food. Drums have a Je ne se kwa appeal, bite and taste I can’t explain it, Jesus your love amazing. It takes me high up to the sky, what we talking about again? #boutdatdrumlife #flatsareforfolkswhoneverseenajuicybootybutkeepclaimingBeckygotsomething

    • Damon Young

      drum deez

    • Lea Thrace

      your last hashtag tho. I cant with you!

    • Quirlygirly

      LOL- you stopped talking about food for a second didn’t you

    • axrxi
  • ChokeOnThisTea

    Damon tryna start World War III up in here. Lemme dip before sh it gets real in these VSB streets. Lol

    • Lea Thrace

      For the best that you leave now. Only thing worse that a women vs. men debate is a food debate. And even worse a chicken debate. SMH.

      • ChokeOnThisTea

        Right. But the VSBs and VSSs are just getting straight RECKLESS with these articles at this point– You got Damon out here lying about chicken. Panama keeps shi tting on Mary J. Blige (which by the way, he got one mo time to do before I go OFF. U DONT COME FOR THE QUEEN LIKE DAT!). Aliyah keep writing cliff hanger stories tryna give people heart attacks. And I ain’t even gonna speak on Dustin who I still havent forgiven yet for that wack article. The only ones I can trust at this point are Agatha and Alex. Lol! ??

        • Quirlygirly

          LOL–You still mad at Dustin- BWHAHAHA

          • ChokeOnThisTea

            Lol! Girl I got forgiveness issues. #TeamPetty

  • Love that first memory. I’m going to make sure to get some bomb azz wings next time I play monopoly with fam. *Someone rolls doubles- Oh you landed on Park Place? With hotel? Let me get these wings while you pass me those bills and remove those houses. *Rolls snake eyes- Man I ain’t even gotta wipe my hands- Lemme savor these flats properly while you mortgage all that property…

  • brothaskeeper

    Bad wings are:
    -A mosquito bite on your knuckle
    -Squeaky brakes
    -That person who drives in front of you 5 mph BELOW the speed limit in the passing lane when you’re late for anything important
    -A woman with an Elise Neal body and a Stacey Dash mind
    -Wale

    • Tambra

      Poor Stacy dash…not really. Yeah being late because of a slow driver is the pits.

      • Nik White

        It’s the worst!

    • Sigma_Since 93

      “A woman with an Elise Neal body and a Stacey Dash mind”

      I’m Sigma_Since93 and I approve this message.

      I’m the words of Prince Akeem, I need a woman to stimulate my intellect as well as my loins.

      • Tambra

        Aren’t you married?

        • brothaskeeper

          You don’t have to answer that! *covers mic like they do at congressional hearings*

          • Tambra

            And that is how you have conspiracy theories floating about.

          • Kas

            This made me laugh out loud!

            • Sigma_Since 93

              Me too!

          • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

      • Epsilonicus

        Elise Neal definitely got that work

      • i wasn’t gonna play with y’all today. But I signed into disqus just to upvote this!

        • Sigma_Since 93

          Thanks for playing and be sure to come back and join our band of misfits! lol

          • Mildredkgriffin3


            “my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.”….


            two days ago new Mc.Laren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month .,3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here!oi70????? http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsLive/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:::::!oi70……

          • Phyllisrkuhn4


            “my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.”….


            two days ago new Mc.Laren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here!oi741????? http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsLive/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:?:::::!oi741…….

    • Deeds

      Dang, Wale though.

    • “That person who drives in front of you 5 mph BELOW the speed limit in the passing lane when you’re late for anything important”

      THIS! And just how you want to flip that person the bird, you want to flip a plate if the wings suck

      • Quirlygirly

        See the way my patience is set up..let just say I am working on not letting microaggressors steal my joy

    • KMN

      “A woman with an Elise Neal body and a Stacey Dash mind”
      LMAO you almost made me choke on this…

    • Naima Oceanlust

      I’m very pleased to see Wale on this list.

      • LadyIbaka

        Why doe? My brotha just suffers from short man complex, that’s all.

        • brothaskeeper

          He suffers from a short talent complex as well.

          • Quirlygirly

            Dayum!!! The Shade, the shade!!

        • Naima Oceanlust

          I always regret purchases of his music once I start thinking about the lyrics. I’m bitter.

    • *A mosquito bite on your pantyline

      • Tambra

        I think a mosquito bite anywhere now, the little terrorist are wmds.

      • brothaskeeper

        ……..

      • Kemse

        …..I cringed. That sounds HORRIBLE.

        • it is as horrible as it sounds. and thats how i feel about bad fckn chicken wings. (and people who dont eat all the meat off the bone…)

          • lilylawyer

            Don’t even get me started about people who don’t eat all the meat off the bone.

      • TheCollinB

        No lie, mom dukes got a bite on her unmentionables one time when she had no other option but to go relieve her bladder in some bushes. Top five Brown family story.

    • Question

      Poor Stacey. She’s become the poster-girl for the otherwise dope chick who ruins her looks with her mind and mouth.

    • dmcmillian72

      Um, you spelled a few words wrong…

      -That person who drives in front of you 5 mph BELOW the speed limit in the passing lane for any reason at all!

      There, I fixed it for you. #YoureWelcome =D

      • brothaskeeper

        *serving you the tiny broken undercooked wing because I’m #PettyWap*

    • Jaris Cole

      Mosquito bite on your lip….

  • RU Scarlet

    That little skin flap on the flat…when it’s fried all nice & crispy…ain’t nothin that compares. NATHAN.

    On occasion, I have been known to pay the extra $1 to ensure all flats. Or swap drums for flats. Whatever it takes.

    Don’t judge.

    Great. Now I gotta order Wingnuts. Thanks a lot, Champ…??

    • uNk

      “That little skin flap on the flat…when it’s fried all nice & crispy…ain’t nothin that compares.”
      We are –> <— HERE

      • Lea Thrace

        nATHAN

        couldnt resist the urge

    • Tiff McGriff

      YESSS!!!!!

    • Soulqueerian

      No shame in your game. The day I learned that flats had a name and that I could – gasp – order JUST THOSE????? It was over. O.VER.

  • brothaskeeper

    I’m just pro-wing. Am I a bad person?

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      Yes.

      • brothaskeeper

        ……….

        • ChokeOnThisTea

          You disappoint me, brotha. I expect better from you.

          • brothaskeeper

            IJS, there’s space on my family ‘union plate for ALL wings.

            • ChokeOnThisTea

              To he ll with a ALL wings. It’s the drums that matter right now! Lol

    • Tambra

      No.

    • Wings are the best- why question perfection?

      • LadyIbaka

        Jesus was questioned, better yet crucified. Yet He is perfection. Why wouldn’t a chicken and its pieces be spared?

        • Too deep for me- we talk chicken and both Jesus and Becky Booties get tossed in. Madness lol

          • LadyIbaka

            Yap.

    • KNeale

      If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

      • Where’s the injustice? All of the wing is good.

      • Kas

        From your lips to God’s ears.

    • Nope. Just appreciatory of the upper appendages of yard birds.

    • miss t-lee

      Nope, Just a true American.

  • OSHH

    China Wall, smh, used to have the best fried wings (fried hard, small whole wings) n mumbo sauce in all of the District. No more China Wall for a few years now.

    Ledo’s has some surprisingly good wing dings, plain of course and fried hard, they are bit larger than I normally like, but them joints are hittin.

    I am on my clean eating, low carb phase of the year now though :-)

    • Kas

      You can do wings as low carb. No flour, just season and fry.

      • OSHH

        Yeah I know I can do them baked and they are tasty but they still ain’t like the fried kind.
        This time of year I start doing lots of salad, raw greens, grapefruit, nuts etc

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Ain’t nothing worse than when you trying to do right on your diet, walk into the grocery store, and they are frying chicken #holdmeLord!

        • OSHH

          LOL the aroma, whew, be like them old school cartoons.

          • My gym is in the same plaza as a Publix. You can smell the chicken in the air. I swear both institutions are in collusion.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            Yup

            • uNk

              Why does this remind me of that scene from Life, when he ran and snatched up the pie hahaha

      • KMN

        or cornstarch instead of flour…

        • Kas

          Cornstarch would be adding carbs.

          • KMN

            not as many though?? I’m just pro crispy skin lol…I tried :(

            • Gots to be crispy.

            • Kas

              You can get crispy skin without adding anything. I had a Cape Verdean gf who made the bomb wings this way. No dipping sauce required.

              • KMN

                that sounds delicious…I wonder did she brine it or something?

                • Kas

                  Nope. Season and go.

                  • KMN

                    I may or may not need a list of said seasonings if available lol

                    • Kas

                      Sorry my friend . . .

      • Brooklyn_Bruin

        Wings are naturally low carb.

        I heavily judge people that make wings like fried chicken

        • Kas

          True, as long as you don’t bread them.

        • Quirlygirly

          A baked chicken wing is just as delicious as a fried one. If you season them right baked chicken wings could change your life

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            I’ve thrown them in at 450. There are a couple of other tricks to getting the skin proper. (Baking soda, wire rack, are two)

            Oven wings will do in a pinch, but not the same as deep fried. Unless you got a commercial fryer or a good stock pot and oil setup, hard to do big batches. That’s when the oven really does well.

            With all these black folks in D.C., the wing game is lacking. It’s all just lemon pepper and mumbo sauce…

          • Brooklyn_Bruin

            And if I was going to be a silent investor in a fast food spot, I’d look at wings first, pit beef second.

            My dreams of opening a straight up bbq spot or a pizzeria are over.

  • V Renee

    “All flats please and yes I know it costs extra”. Flats are EVERYTHING! I want a chicken wing right now.

    • LadyIbaka

      Flats cost extra? Kwashiorkor ridden meat. I don’t gerrit.

      • V Renee

        Unfortunately, some places do charge extra….I think because they’re in such high demand. Ha!

      • miss t-lee

        Yeah, a lot of places I’ve encountered do this extra charge mess.

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