In 1964, a man named John Young started a restaurant called John Young’s Wings and Things in Buffalo, New York. Young, a farm boy from Alabama, started cooking with his father on a riverboat before relocating to Buffalo. Young had heard of a restaurant in Washington D.C that served chicken wings, so he decided to venture into his own version which included his popular “Mambo” sauce.

The Jamaican-born sauce recipe would make culinary history for Buffalo wing lovers. Although there are several people who claim invention of Buffalo wings, Young’s name is part of the starting lineup. After running a food truck in Decatur, Illinois, Young returned to Buffalo, opening several Wings and Things locations in the Buffalo area.

Young’s biggest rival is the popular Anchor Bar in Buffalo, with a history that also starts in 1964. But preparation methods of the two ‘wing kings’ is quite different; the Anchor Bar’s wings were chopped, fried and dipped, while Young’s wings were whole, breaded then dipped in his Mambo sauce.

The late Teressa Bellissimo, The Anchor Bar’s owner, prepared the dish for her son and his friends for a late-night snack and the trend caught on. Since 1977, July 29th has been official Chicken Wing Day in Buffalo. The annual National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival happens there every Labor Day weekend.

This year’s festival will convene on August 30th at Coca Cola field in Buffalo, NY and the late Young’s Mambo wings will be inducted into the festival’s “Hall of Flame.’ In years past, the festival has entertained hundreds of thousands of wing-eaters and hosted a wedding.

The Young family, particularly Young’s brother, Paul, his widow Christine and his daughter, Lina retain ownership of the Mambo sauce recipe, which is a Jamaican inspired flavor. Paul’s Taste of Soul on Fillmore Avenue continues Young’s legacy and dream of owning a full-scale restaurant.

(Photo by Bitslammer)

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