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Wild Wing Cafe proves that in South Carolina, barbecue is king — even when it comes to wings

About twice a year I head down to The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) building in Clemson, S.C., to work on items for the Principles & Practices of Engineering Exam. It’s basically a test people take that qualifies them to obtain a license to practice engineering.

It is purely volunteer work, but they do pay for my travel and expenses and grant me continuing educational credits, which I need to accumulate to keep my own engineering license. I also really enjoy going down there and working on test problems, as well as meeting different people across the country who share similar careers.

NCEES supplies me with lunches and only one dinner, so that leaves two dinners that I usually seek out on my own across the Clemson/Greenville/Spartanburg area.

Of course, most of those dinners consist of barbecue. It is just so good out there. I’ve scoured the area here in Michiana looking for something similar, but nothing beats the pulled pork down in South Carolina.

This last weekend I was determined to seek out a local chain and try the wings there instead. So, I decided to do some Flavor 864 and visit Anderson, S.C., to get some wings at the local chain Wild Wing Cafe.

Wild Wing Cafe has more than 30 locations around the southeast part of the country. It has cafe in the name, but it is more of a sports bar. I didn’t see anything in the theme to differentiate it from other sports bar chains like Buffalo Wild Wings or Quaker Steak and Lube, but that’s OK. Sometimes just being a sports bar-themed place is good enough. If it’s got wings on the menu and Yuengling beer on tap, I will be happy.

There were so many sauce combinations to choose from that I ordered 16 wings with three different sauces. I went with the Atomic Meltdown (traditional buffalo sauce), Fireball (sweet with a lot of heat) and Crazy Daisy Asian BBQ (mix of hot, sweet and Asian sauces).

All three delivered on the heat, ranking 3 out of 4 on my scale. The Atomic meltdown was OK. It was an original buffalo sauce, but nothing special. The Fireball had a good sweetness to it and was the hottest of the three.

The Crazy Daisy was the best. It’s easy to determine why it had barbecue sauce in it. This was way better than the barbecue sauce you get back home in Michiana. The smoky favor was not overpowering, but you could taste it enough to compliment the Asian tangy-ness and the heat from the buffalo sauce. Down here, it is probably better to just order the barbecue sauces, as that is the region’s specialty.

Unfortunately, Wild Wing Cafe does not really have as many unique sauces as it seems. The menu claims 33 flavors, but most of them are created by combining other sauces, so if you order multiple sauces they end up tasting very similar.

As for the other aspects of the wing (chicken, skin, size, price), they are on par with other chain stores. They were hot when they came out, so I didn’t have any problems with them being old or precooked. The chicken was cooked through, neither dry nor juicy.

The price was on the high side. Ten wings for $10.39 yields a CPW (cost per wing) of 104 cents. I didn’t see any specials advertised, but chains like this usually have discounted wings on certain days.

We don’t live by any Wild Wing Cafes, so I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go to South Carolina just to eat there. But, if you are in the area, have a craving for some wings and are unsure of the local places, feel free to get some wings at the cafe.

Of course, if you spend a little time in South Carolina you should not be getting wings anyway, with all the good barbecue they have there — and you can get that at any local place.

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