Tuesday, 10 October 2006


The Great Wing Tour 2006
Saturday October 7th
Day 2

On the road again, and shortly that evening Rick and I arrived at another popular wing joint in the US, Quaker Steak & Lube. In fact, we went to the original QSL in Sharon Pennsylvania. We had some difficulty finding the place with the directions Yahoo Maps gave us but we found the place across the rail road tracks in the 'not nicest' part of town.

Out front we found all sorts of paraphanelia dealing with auto-racing, but wings as well. QSL advertises itself as "Best Wings USA", putting the bar quite high. There was even a photo cut out for people to get their pictures taken next to a chicken and their thermometer of chicken wing heat. QSL was definitely building up the hype for great chicken wings and I was definitely excited.

What excited me the most was the having to sign a waiver after ordering the Atomic wings, their hottest flavour. The waiver stated:

"I the undersigned, about to consume Atomic Chicken Wings
being served at Best Wings USA inc, do hereby acknowledge that
I am aware that these chicken wings are advertised and presented
as "Eat at Your Own Risk." Furthermore, being aware of the most
extreme danger of heat (100 000-300 000 Scoville units of heat
scale) I am willing to hold harmless Best Wings USA inc, its owners,
operators, employees and agents. The undersigned acknowledges
that he/she has read the above, and is giving up his/her right to
recover for the acts above for the indigestion above in the acts above."

So how would they turn out?


SIZE of WINGS: medium but skinny
HEAT: Atomic: 8 /10
PRICE: $6.99 (US) for 10, $10.29 for 15, $13.99 for small bucket plus other sizes and combos.


SAUCE CHOICE: 18 flavours! some of the more interesting sounding flavours
include Arizona Ranch, Buckeye BBQ, Pennsylvania Premium Garlic
& Atomic
SIDES: veggies and dip are an extra $0.99
WETNAP: no but a larger disinfectant towel.
deep fried
WING NIGHT: Tuesday after 5pm, $10.99 AYCE
OTHER: free sunflower seeds at the table, Dr Pepper on tap
I ordered a sample size Atomic and a 'Sprinster' sized Buckeye BBQ, which came out in egg cartons, which was curious because Rick's BBQ and his Suicide(? I forgot the other order) came in a basket.
By the time dinner arrived, a small crowd made up of three women on one side and a small family on the other were waiting in anticipation to see someone eat the Atomic wings. They were also curious about us as we were filming the event for the documentary. The waitress had warned that the night before a bunch of guys attempted the nuclear blast of chicken and broke down in tears, unable to complete them. The challenge had been laid down, the waiver signed. Rick was teasing about the body bag that was needed. All that was left was the crying. Or so I thought.

I took a bite - a slight burn. A hush fell over the tables. I waited for the fire to strike and the burn and tears to begin. I took another bite, then another and another. Quick work was made of that first wing and I was still not suffering. It had happened: the dream was gone and the burn was not enough for me. Rick took his chances with a wing, and while his spice tolerance had been dulled by a summer in Zambia, for the most part, could take the wing. They simply were not the death defying wings they had been made out to be. A little girl wearing face paint at the table next door asked "is that the hottest thing you have ever eaten?" to which I had to reply, "No."

So the burn wasn't really there, how about the wing and the flavour? Thumbs down again. The sauce was a pepper sauce, reminding me of Blair's Death Sauce, which I have been stomaching for years. There was little sauce, making the wing almost dry. The chicken itself was tough, chewy and too crispy. They were overdone. As for the BBQ, the sauce was ok, but having more than 6 wings would have been too much.
Rick was equally disappointed in his wings and we both felt unsatisfied. We each ordered some deep fried pickles, which were quite good. We left QSL feeling disappointed in all the hype about the wings. We wondered if we had just hit a bad night or whether their wings in general were terrible. I was still tempted by seeing buckets of wings go by, a Klingon Crossing sign and the people who seemed to really care about our quest. Before we left, we looked at the wall my name was going to go on. What we found was booklets of hundreds and hundreds of names each month people ate the atomic wings. Clearly the Atomic accomplishment was not that great.

I would be willing to give Quaker Steak and Lube a second chance, but I sure would not go out of my way to do it.

1 1/2 out 5 flappers

Quaker Steak & Lube
Sharon Pennsylvania (and other locations)

No comments: