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With the price of chicken wings soaring, Rutgers' favorite takeout night may be in jeopardy

A chicken shortage has caused the price of wings to jump from $1.50 to $2.09 per pound. From Wings over Rutgers to the beloved Bite Night, this change may affect the availability and price of wings around campus at Rutgers. – Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez

Football season is upon us. Between the Scarlet Knights and NFL teams playing on the weekends, many football fans will turn to their favorite game time snack — wings.

Last year, Americans ate more than 1.3 billion chicken wings during the 2017 Super Bowl alone. Wings have a special place at Rutgers as well, with many dining halls holding "Bite Night" or "Wing Night" as take-out out options.

Wings Over Rutgers is a popular restaurant on Easton Avenue with over 20 flavors of wings. Bonchon Chicken just opened on George Street in Downtown New Brunswick this summer, specializing in Korean fried chicken and wings. Harvest Moon Brewery and Cafe, also located on George Street, was recommended by readers as having some of the best wings in New Jersey.

But recently, there has been a notable wing shortage America. Because wholesale wing prices are rising, the price of wings will increase as well, jumping from $1.50 to $2.09 per pound, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Tom Super is the vice president of communications for the National Chicken Council (NCC) — the NCC influences important legislative and regulatory policies and government programs that affect chicken.

Super explained to Bon Appetit that part of the wing crisis is a seasonal issue.

"Wing prices typically peak three times a year — before the Super Bowl, March Madness and around the end-of-summer grilling-slash-beginning of football season," he said. 

The United States' chicken consumption is also at an all-time high, according to a report by the NCC. Both factors are contributing to the shortage.

Ryan Anderson is the executive chef at INC American Bar and Kitchen restaurant in New Brunswick. Chicken wings are on their menu, and he said that all meat prices have gone up.

Anderson said that while the prices have not increased yet, eventually they might have to.

“Wings have steadily gone up in the past few years. We will probably have to increase pricing eventually, but most recently they have stayed steady,” he said. "We try to keep our menu competitive and we don't make as much profit on them as other menu items because they're pricey, but we keep it on because of the high demand."

Many Rutgers dining halls have "Bite Night" or "Wing Night" for takeout where wings take center stage.

“Wing night is every Tuesday night. I haven’t heard anything about a shortage but we always have chicken to prep for every night and every Monday night before take out,” said Tevin Campbell, a dining services worker at Neilson Dining Hall.

Recently, Neilson Dining Hall changed their takeout selections, including their wings. While wing prices increase, Rutgers believes they will still save some money. Meal plan prices are always on the rise and chicken wings are not what is affecting it.

An analysis of campus dining contracts from around the country shows that colleges are charging students far more for each meal than the typical American spends to eat at home. This helps raise the cost of higher education.

Joseph Charette, the executive director of Dining Services, said they will save money because they will be serving less meat because of menu changes that began in April with a new takeout menu at the Neilson Dining Hall.

The chicken wings are baked instead of fried and the hot sauce from the jar has been replaced with fresh spices.

“Our students are concerned about what they are eating and where it comes from,’’ Charette said. “They ask a lot of questions, and they are eating smarter, so we have to make more choices available that are not only better for their health but better for the planet.’’


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