Though I have seen a couple of these locations sprinkled around different states for a year or so, on March 17th Pizza Hut publicly rolled out their WingStreet wings to over 5,000 restaurants nationwide. Since then, every time I turn on the TV all I seem to see are commercials pushing these wings. I assume it’s Pizza Hut’s attempt to show wing lovers that their product is not just another fast food pizza wing. As a wing lover, I know that I’m not going to find the next best wing from a delivery joint, let alone a fast food chain, but I also know that there are times when I get a craving for that Buffalo goodness late at night (and a few beers in the hole), and I want someone to bring them to me. But just because I need to fill that void, doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice taste, does it? So, if Pizza Hut is claiming to be bringing their wings to a new level, then I’m game for trying them out.
One of the main differences between Pizza Hut’s wings and their leading competitor’s is the way that they are prepared. Unlike Domino’s and Papa John’s, Pizza Hut fries their wings instead of running them through a baking process. And frankly, I’m amazed that these places haven’t been doing this all along. One of the big reasons that I don’t usually order delivered wings is because of how incredibly slimy the meat becomes from the baking method. Having a fried wing keeps the skin crunchy and the flavor locked in… and that is exactly what I got when I ordered my WingStreet wings to try them out.
Lucky for me, it happened to be a Wednesday when I called in for lunch. So because of their Wing Wednesday special, I was able to try both the Traditional Wings and their Crispy Bone-In Wings for the price of a normal 8 count. These wings are smaller than the average bar wing, so it’s going to take a lot more to fill me (and if math serves, 16 is more than 8 which equals better). The Crispy Bone-In Wings are basically the Traditional Wings coated in a crispy breaded exterior, and to be honest, weren’t as crispy as the name implied. The breading’s overall look and flavor wasn’t bad, but the ratio to chicken was way off. Each wing was about 2/3 breading and overpowered the meat. So much so that a couple of times I felt as if they even forgot to put in the chicken. The Traditional, on the other hand, had a nice crisp to the skin from being fried and I could actually taste the chicken.
Another thing that makes WingStreet stand out over the rest is that they offer a variety of signature sauces. They have the classic Buffalo flavors such as Buffalo Mild, Buffalo Medium, and Buffalo Burnin’ Hot. They also carry Spicy Asian, Spicy BBQ, Honey BBQ, Lemon Pepper, and Garlic Parmesan. I ordered my wings tossed in the Buffalo Medium, and in eating those and tasting the other sauces, I noticed how viscous they all were. Could this be an intentional decision made by the food scientists over at the Pizza Hut test kitchen to ensure that the sauce will stick to the wing? Possibly, but one thing I do know is that it makes things super sticky when trying to consume them. The sauce needed to be cleaned off my fingers and mouth much more frequently proven by the trail of used napkins around my plate. However, the upside to it all was that the Buffalo Medium was delicious, and tasting it for a second time while licking my fingers wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It carried a sweetness with a little kick of heat that is by far the best tasting sauce that I’ve gotten from a fast food delivery place. Some of the other flavors fared pretty decently as well, like the Spicy Asian and Honey BBQ, but not all of them were winners, such as the Spicy BBQ due to its unpleasant aftertaste.
So how do they compare?
When it comes down to it, Pizza Hut is making great advancements in the quality of wings that we can expect to find in fast food delivery. After trying WingStreet, Domino’s, and Papa John’s all side by side, I can easily say that WingStreet is proving that to be true and has my vote. Their cooking method and sauce varieties far outweigh their competitors which is a very good thing because it means that the other guys are going to have to fall in line and step it up if they want to still be in the game. And that could only mean great things for wing lovers in the future.