Philadelphia Stories and Tips

Wing Bowl

OK, this is one of the stangest things I have ever seen in my life. I realize the sweeping import of that statement, but I''ll just take a deep breath and try and begin to explain the Wing Bowl. Every year the morning guys on a local AM radio station (WIP 610) sponsor what amounts to the grandest and most spectacular buffalo-wing eating contest in the world. The hype is enormous, and even though it is held early on a January morning (so it can be simulcast with the morning sports show) it sold out the First Union Center. Well, that's not entirely accurate. The Wing Bowl is free, but once the crowd grew to well over 20,000, they stopped letting people in. That's right, over 20,000 Philadelphians decided it was worth it to trek out to the F.U.C., miss a morning's worth of work, all in the January cold, to watch a wing-eating contest. So, curious, I joined them for this year's version -- Wing Bowl 9. I was not disappointed. Imagine a mix between amateur wrestling, Hooters, the NFL pregame show, and Rocky. The contestants enter the stadium like boxing champions, their theme music blaring and their entourage in tow. They have names like "Damaging Doug," "El Wingador," and "The Irish Mute." Round after round, they scarf down plate after plate of buffalo wings as the 9 a.m. crowd drinks beer and shouts lewd shouts at the scantliy clad "Wingettes." WIP culls its contestants from various qualifying stunts in the weeks leading up to Wing Bowl. Could you eat a hamburger the size of a volleyball? Could you eat a can or worms? Then, maybe then, you have the makings of a Wing Bowl participant. Apparently it helps, judging from a look at this year's contestants, if you weigh over 300 pounds -- or in the case of "The Package," 700 pounds. It is a spectacle of the grotesque quite simply not be missed -- or believed. The national anthem (the national anthem) was sung by a woman while she bounced on a trampoline. The halftime show consisted of a man breaking full cans of beer on his head. In the end, "El Wingador" brought home the trophy by eating a Wing Bowl-record 147 buffalo wings (he also got a trip to Aruba, but something tells me the bragging rights are a bit more important to him). This yearly event is just not to be missed if you happen to be in Philly in the beginning of January. I have not found a more interesting way to spend a Friday morning than with 20,000 screaming, beer-drinking Philly fanatics watching fat men (and one fat woman) eat chicken wings. That's why I'll try and be back for Wing Bowl X.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip