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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

Buffalo Wild Wings under fire for 'mislabeling' chicken parts

When are wings not wings? When they’re breasts.

While some might call it a moral failure and others would question my sanity, I’ve never really been a “wings guy.” I like chicken in almost any of its edible forms and I certainly understand the allure and I recognize the attraction of wings in the right setting. I even really enjoy the sauces that are slathered on most wing concoctions.

I just don’t enjoy the act of having to work through a mess to find tiny pockets of chicken meat, especially when I’m hanging with my friends and we’re watching a sporting event on the big screen.

So, I suppose meatless wings were made for people like me.

But as an IP attorney I also realize that there’s a very real problem with calling wings “boneless wings” when they’re really just reshaped breast meat. It sure seems like false advertising to me.

And Aimen Halim, the guy in Chicago who filed a class-action lawsuit against Buffalo Wild Wings (“BWW”) that accuses the restaurant chain of falsely advertising its boneless wings when they are allegedly just chicken nuggets, appears to agree with me.

The lawsuit, filed last Friday, states that Halim believed BWW’s boneless chicken wings were actually deboned wings. If he had known the breast-meat truth, Halim claims he would have ordered something else, and therefore he’s suffered “financial injury.”

I’m fairly sure I don’t agree with the whole financial injury arguments but the ensuing debate has been a hot one and it has been ongoing for quite some time. In 2020, another guy went viral in for giving an impassioned speech to the Lincoln, Nebraska City Council about why the term “boneless wings” should be stripped from every menu in the city.

But the debate stretches back even further.

In the early 2000s, boneless wings gained popularity when the price of chicken breast—which is what boneless wings are usually made of—cratered, while wings remained expensive. And wing purists have always pushed back against the bone-free option. The prices of both items have fluctuated in the past few years, but the debate over what, if anything, constitutes a boneless wing has raged on.

Why It Matters. Calling a product “boneless wings” or “boneless chicken wings” is problematic because it runs afoul (pun intended) of state and federal laws requiring truth in advertising.

False advertising refers to any type of misleading or deceptive marketing communication that intentionally or unintentionally misrepresents a product, service, or brand. False advertising can take many different forms, including:

  • Misrepresenting the quality or performance of a product or service.

  • Making claims that are not supported by scientific evidence or research.

  • Falsely representing the price or availability of a product or service.

  • Using deceptive packaging or labeling to mislead consumers about the contents or benefits of a product.

  • Using endorsements or testimonials that are not genuine or have been paid for.

False advertising is illegal and can lead to legal action being taken against the company or individual responsible for the misleading claims. In addition to legal consequences, false advertising can also damage the reputation of the brand and erode consumer trust.

At press time, we were still awaiting comment from representatives of the huge U.S. chicken population which, reportedly, is irate about the whole “people eating chicken parts” thing.

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