Among the many images of these months of pandemic will also remain those related to stocks in supermarkets: In Italy yeast had become impossible to find, like pasta, except for penne smooth as proof of the Italian gourmet spirit that would have bent to everything but not to the of wrong pasta. Instead, the United States experienced a shortage of toilet paper and is now facing another: that of chicken wings. The boom in deliveries and online orders has made them a very popular dish in recent months, and the pandemic has simultaneously slowed down the work of farms and slaughterhouses. For such a popular dish, small decreases in production are enough to immediately generate significant fluctuations in the price. And so the chains that rotate completely around the fins have to run for cover. Wingstop, the Dallas-based chain that has around 1,400 restaurants across the United States, has decided to play early before a real shortage is announced, competing alone with a new virtual brand: Tightstop. As the name suggests (tight means thigh), the brand will sell chicken thighs seasoned and spiced like the typical fins via delivery and online orders. A virtual restaurant for a very real need: the move, the company explains, was designed with a view to being able to process whole wholesale chicken with special technologies and no longer just the most coveted parts (wings and breast) and thus contain the living costs and the increase in prices on the menu. The hope is that Americans like thighs so much that they become a fixed dish. A marketing strategy equal and opposite to that of the “bad Santa Claus” who in the Italian advertising of the 4 jumps in the pan of the early 2000s asked the child which part of the chicken preferred (obviously the thigh!) to answer “Too bad, all breast!”. And instead in the United States the wings have always dominated the tables, a poor dish initially created to use even the less coveted and meat-rich parts of the chicken that were usually discarded, and then risen to a national symbol, with periodic alarms of shortages and increases in price. Second only to hamburgers in the nation’s preferences, they have multiple stories about their origin and are now a gastronomic segment in themselves, a symbol of pub nights, outdoor barbecues and long afternoons dedicated to sport to watch sports, first of all the Super Bowl Their market is worth billions of dollars, and it’s not the first time that chains have faced supply problems, with unpredictable price swings. Pandemic aside, it is enough for a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s to decide to include a dish based on wings in the menu to put the entire supply chain in crisis. This seems to be the origin of the “boneless wings”, the boneless wings (actually based on chicken breast) created to give an alternative to customers and restaurateurs when wings became rarer and more expensive, and have now become part integral to restaurant and fast food menus as a more tender and less complicated alternative to eat. This year, however, the “chicken crunch” has hit all parts of the chicken, due to a mix of a shortage of processors, increased demand and the launch of new chicken dishes by the big chains. The thighs of Wingstop’s virtual brand could be the key to salvation.
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