Why Are Buffalo Wings Always Served With Celery and Blue Cheese?

The one time celery is acceptable to serve to anyone.
The one time celery is acceptable to serve to anyone. / mphillips007/iStock via Getty Images

The combination of Buffalo wings and celery has long puzzled Friday night gatherings and Super Bowl parties. Why bother pairing our blandest vegetable with the decadent, fat-soaked wing?

It was a matter of necessity. And leftovers.

Back in 1964 in Buffalo, New York, Frank and Teressa Bellissimo were confronted with a late-night request from their adult son, Dominic, to find something for him and his friends to eat at the Bellissimos' Anchor Bar. To satisfy their appetites, Teressa threw together some wings, margarine, and hot sauce, birthing a regional and then national wing obsession. (Buffalo residents do not, however, refer to wings as Buffalo wings, in much the same way the French do not refer to fried potato sticks as French fries. They just call them chicken wings or wings.)

Teressa finished off that first plate of wings with what she had on hand at the bar. She served the wings with house blue cheese dressing and some celery sticks she had left over from making an antipasto salad. Dominic and his friends devoured it all, and the combination stuck.

While Teressa was using what was available, it turns out she picked some very complementary pairings. With its high water content and crisp texture, celery is a perfect contrast to the salt and fat of the wings. It provides a crunchy, somewhat hydrating break, particularly when your consumption gets into the dozens. And because they’re easy to digest, they don’t interfere with the caloric nuclear bomb already going off in your stomach.

Some wing enthusiasts opt for ranch dressing over blue cheese. While either one has enough dairy fat to soothe any afterburn from the hot sauce, Buffalo natives consider ranch anathema. Back in 2018, Frank’s RedHot, a staple hot sauce for wing preparation used in Teressa’s first recipe, made the mistake of suggesting ranch on social media, leading to a virtual meltdown. Imagine what would have happened if they had suggested carrots.

[h/t Tasting Table]

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