Is there a more fascinating food item than the chicken wing? While chicken thighs, legs and breasts are used a variety of ways (cooked as an entree, in pastas/casseroles, sandwiches, etc.), the chicken wing generally serves one role — as a delicious, socially-engaging appetizer (or as a hands-on dinner).

While the chicken wing has carved out a definitive niche in the food world, there’s a number of variables involved with preparing chicken wings; meaning there’s an infinite number of combinations available to enjoy. But, while all wings can be enjoyed, not all chicken wings are equal. There will always be debates as to what styles, flavours and cooking techniques make for the best chicken wing possible. While we are chicken wing neutral, and therefore will not take any side in these arguments, we will look at what questions need to be asked so you can best capture the essence of a chicken wing with your next meal.

We present to you: A metaphysical analysis of the chicken wing.

1: Flat or drumette?

The most heavily debated topic in the chicken wing discussion is what type of chicken wing is the best to eat. While a chicken only has two wings, each wing can be chopped into three parts: the drumette, the flat and the tip. The tip is basically all skin and bone, so it’s no use to any chicken wing fans, leaving one chicken to provide two flats and two drumettes.

The drumette, aptly named because it resembles a miniature drumstick, consists of one large, central bone, surrounded by meat. Easy to eat (you can even eat it with one hand), it is dark meat, but is very tender and similar to white meat. Because they generally have a larger edible surface area than flats, drumettes are popular among those who like to be a little cleaner while eating chicken wings.

The flat, while also very tender dark meat, does require a bit more interaction to enjoy. The flat has two thin parallel bones that run lengthwise through the wing, meaning you’ll need to work both hands to get all the meat. The flat also has a higher skin-to-meat ratio, so if you like the added flavour of more skin, then you’re likely part of team #FlatsForever. The other advantage to a flat is, with some handy hands-on skills, you can make them boneless chicken bites.

2: To bread, or not to bread?

A question which reveals not only your texture preference, but also how you prefer your wings to be cooked. A naked wing, a.k.a. a wing without any breading, should almost always be prepared with some sort of sauce/marinade/flavouring before being cooked, and tend to be at their best either baked in an oven or cooked on a BBQ. The result is wings that aren’t quite as heavy, rely entirely on your sauces for flavouring and potentially the added charcoal notes from a grill.

Adding a breaded coating presents an entirely different set of wing options. The breaded coating absorbs sauces, allowing you to thoroughly coat your wings in the flavouring of your choice. Or, you can create your own breaded coating, with any spice level you prefer, in a dry-style wing.
Breaded wings don’t lend themselves to a grill as much as naked wings do, although they work wonders if baked in an oven, or if they are deep-fried for a crispy coating and tender, juicy inside.

3: How saucy do you want it?

Nobody is debating that sauce is a key component to the essential chicken wing experience. But there is a small faction of people who prefer to have their wings cooked without any sauce, rather having the sauce served on the side.

This approach affords complete control over your sauce-to-meat ratio, provides for relatively clean eating and opens the opportunity to have multiple different sauces with your wings.

The more commonplace method — having your wings cooked in sauce or tossed in sauce immediately before serving — means one thing and one thing only: you crave that total immersion (in sauce), uber-messy-that-you-need-10-wet-naps chicken wing experience.

We’re not saying any particular approach is right or wrong, but your choice in chicken wings reflects more about your personality and preferences than you may think. An incredible appetizer, a game-night sports meal, a party hors d’oeuvre and a personality test: all hail the power of the chicken, and their knowledge-wielding wings.