Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chicken wings and marketing

It wasn't all that long ago that if we visited a KFC and asked for chicken wings the person at the counter would have to hustle to make sure all of them hadn't been thrown into the trash. Nobody wanted chicken wings. (Except for me of course) I could often talk the store into selling me a box full for a nickle or dime each. At the time, when people ordered a Family Meal box of chicken they inevitably asked to have a mix of parts but "leave out the wings." Wings were considered in the same category as the tail. A good party host wouldn't be caught offering chicken wings on an hordouvres tray. Nope! Not it just wasn't proper. That was great for me. I could always count on eating great chicken on the cheap. Just the right combination of skin, seasoning, breading and meat. "Finger lickin' good!" Then some enterprising chicken cooking chef decides to add extra words to an otherwise dish reserved for the vulgar crowd who didn't otherwise have a choice. Suddenly, literally overnight wings became something special. Now I had to compete for my beloved chicken wings and also step to the window price wise too. Same chicken wings, it was only a couple macho type words  that brought them into the mainstream. "Buffalo", "Ding", "Fire", "Wild", just four simple words and wings were an epicurean delicacy. Not only that but still another entrepreneur decided to split those magnificent wings in half and call them some sort of finger food. And that same guy found some way to make people want to pay the same price for half a wing and double his income. I was becoming perturbed at anyone involved in the marketing of chicken wings. Actually, I still am. I dearly miss my nickle or dime chicken wings when they would even throw in a few extra free of charge because they were happy to be rid of them. Marketing people have really changed our cultural landscape when it comes to what we eat. I guess I like some of it but other stuff I'm not so taken with.

The woman that invented spinach dip was actually a genius. Her'e this mom of about 11 kids and she couldn't get them to eat the best vegetable in the world that didn't taste quite so "best" and made them gag. Wanting to be a good mom she kept offering her brood the spinach but alas, those kids kept gagging. All the while her husband was getting a little tired of being the one to eat all that left over spinach. They, being of modest means could not afford to let any food go to waste. One day Mr. husband, almost gagging himself from way too much spinach, decided to put some into an almost empty jar of Cheese Whiz to add a little flavor. He made it through and finished the spinach. Mom, seeing husbands method of survival made a mental note. She was one smart cookie. The next week, on the day the family usually tried to eat spinach, while the kids were still away at school, mom put her plan into action. Taking a couple cans of spinach, a jar of cheese whiz and some cream cheese, she blended it into a sort of gooey stuff. (Kids like gooey stuff, she thought) Then she fried up some corn meal and flour cup shaped chips and place that stuff on the table. When the kids all got home and settled and ready to start gagging when mom said they had to eat spinach and husband prepared to suck it up and eat the spinach, mom said to everyone that "tonight is a special night. No supper, we are all going to eat homemade chips and dip and watch a movie!" The kids were delighted, dad and husband was delighted, the movie went on, the chips and (spinach) dip were placed in the middle of the room, everyone watched the movie, ate the (spinach dip) and chips, laughed, didn't gag and asked when they could do it again and have some more of that wonderful dip and chips. That's what good marketing does. That's how chicken wings turned mainstream and my cheap food disappeared. Marketing can end the recession and bring us all to financial independence. But I sure miss my cheap, just plain wings.

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