The original Penguin Point in Wabash serves wings that are best when fried fresh

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By: Michael Tomko
miketomko@outlook.com
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Michael Tomko/Taste These Broken Wings

In Taste These Broken Wings, I have avoided fast food joints when it comes to wings. I tried to do one a few months ago, but when it came down to writing about it I couldn’t create anything mildly interesting.

I had a bowling tournament in Muncie recently, and while looking for a place near Ball State to do a wing review, I came across the original Penguin Point in Wabash.

Penguin Point is a fast food chain based locally, so I figured it would be interesting to go to the original one to get a couple wings.

Penguin Point started off as a drive-in on the outskirts of Wabash. Over the years most drive-ins either stayed a single entity or closed down entirely, but Penguin Point franchised into a local fast food joint.

I was expecting a unique old-style place by going to the original one, but except for the canopy you used to park under while the carhops roller-skated over with your food, the place looks like every other Penguin Point I’ve been to.

Although disappointed at first, I realized that the other establishments might have been based on this one. So the unique drive-up ordering system, the separated ordering counter and dining room, and overall décor of the place may have originated here and spread throughout the other franchises as they were built.

I rolled up and ordered the four-wing special with a side of fries and mac and cheese.

I’ll have to tell a tale of two wings here. It was the best of wings, it was the worst of wings…

It took a while for them to get me my food. The first wing I bit into was hot and juicy. It had a good fried chicken taste, the breading was salty and deliciously greasy. The second wing, not so much. It was dry and lukewarm. Oh, it was still greasy, but it tasted like that other fast food chicken that I didn’t want to write about.

I’m guessing that they had to cook up a couple more wings to complete my order of four, which led to two great pieces of chicken and two pieces of what tasted a bit like leftovers.

Because I ordered the basket, it is difficult to get a CPU for the combo. A single wing piece costs $1.79, but it contains the wing and drummie, so the CPU for an individual one would be 90 cents.

There is no heat on these wings. You could probably sneak in a bottle of Frank’s if you really want to spice them up.

Think of how it would it have been to be a teenager in Wabash during the ’50s. You finally get your license and head out to the outskirts of town to hang out with your friends at the Penguin Point, where you gather the courage to invite Peggy Sue to the sock hop after the football game next Friday.

At least, that is what TV has told me life in the ’50s was like.

Although Penguin Point was part of that life with great food on summer nights, it seems like the expectation of convenience and speed has sacrificed some of the quality that Peggy Sue and her boyfriend enjoyed eating there before catching that movie at the drive-in.

But sometimes, if you ask nicely, you might be able to have them fry you up a fresh set of wings and you can experience what chicken would have tasted like before the hippies and disco changed the perception of what life is like in a small town.

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