Cheers, Tears, and a Whole Lot of Chicken Wings!

Throwback Blog for National Chicken Wings Day 2020! This article was written right before the 2018 Super Bowl, so numbers and statistics may not reflect current trends.

Sunday is the Big Game! However, the battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy won’t be the only thing going down at kickoff. Americans are expected to eat a record-breaking 1.35 billion wings during Super Bowl Sunday, according to the National Chicken Council’s annual Chicken Wing Report.

This is an estimated two percent increase from last year, which is roughly 30 million chicken wings. Laid end to end, all those wings would be able to wrap around the entire planet THREE times! That’s a bucket of 625 wings in every seat in all 32 NFL stadiums—or 394 million feet of chicken wings. It’s a lot of chicken!

Thinking of going out for the Super Bowl? Make sure you’re at the restaurant early to precure your wings! According to Karim Webb, owner of several Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) franchises, each BWW sells around 6,000 wings on a typical weekend. But over the Super Bowl weekend that amount more than doubles to almost 14,000 wings.

Looking for classic buffalo wings? Turn to Atlanta-based restaurant chain, Wing Zone, that specializes in the hot wings. The chain is expecting to sell over 450,000 hot wings nationwide Sunday—versus a typical Sunday that sells a little over 100,000 wings.

Originating in Buffalo, New York, buffalo hot wings and all their glorious red-hot flavor are a staple for Super Bowl Sundays.

But have you ever wondered what makes that firey flavor come to life?

Capsaicin and related compounds are responsible for pungency, the burning sensation associated with chili peppers and other spicy foods. They are called capsaicinoids and are produced as secondary metabolites by chili peppers.

In high concentrations, all capsaicinoids produce burning sensations through the mouth, throat, and mucous membrane. In low concentrations they affect only specific areas of the mouth and throat. As a result, low pungent compounds can enhance the food (or hot wing) flavor. Additionally, capsaicin may have clinical applications, including antioxidant properties and is used as the main ingredient in several over-the-counter topical ointments for the treatment of pain and inflammation.

Because of the amount of capsaicin produced by chili peppers, it can vary due to environmental and weather conditions. This makes it critically important for the food industry to effectively quantitate capsaicinoids.

Traditionally, subjective methods were used in this process. In 1912, Wilber Scoville established a scale to demonstrate the pungency of chili peppers based on a taste-test. The Scoville Organoleptic Test is based how many equal parts of sugar water would be needed to dilute ground up hot chili peppers to the point where the heat cannot be tasted. Wilber Scoville had taste testers sip concoctions of chili pepper and sugar water in multiple-day trials until the testers could no longer detect heat.

Lucky for taste testers, there is now a better option to test the level of hotness of chili peppers thanks to high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), which measures the chemical capsaicin in chili peppers.

Using LC-MS/MS, Phenomenex was able to characterize capsaicinoids and related pungent agents in chili peppers.

To more accurately quantitate pungency, concentration values or three major capsaicinoids (capsaicin, dihydrocapsaicin, and nor-dihydrocapsaicin) were determined by HPLC.  The concentration was then multiplied by a pungency factor for each species and added together to arrive at a corresponding Scoville Heat Unit value.

Capsaicinoids were extracted from chili peppers and analyzed by a triple quadrupole LC-MS/MS system to identify each capsaicinoid. Ion intensities for different chili pepper extracts were then reviewed and evaluated.

To read the full technical note, click here: Analysis of Capsaicinoids Technical Note

Questions? Chat with our Technical Experts nearly 24/7! 

Cheers, Tears, and a Whole Lot of Hot Wings! SCIENCE UNFILTERED
Article Name
Cheers, Tears, and a Whole Lot of Hot Wings! SCIENCE UNFILTERED
Americans use the Super Bowl as a reason to eat an excessive amount of food, like hot wings, which is expected to be a record-breaking 1.35 billion wings.

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