There was a stroke of brilliance at Wingsfest which may have saved my life. You may feel like I am exaggerating when I claim to have faced mortal danger at a food festival, and I know I have exaggerated before, but I assure you that as I was leaving the floor of the UIC Pavillion, I bit into a wing from Half Day Brewing and it was ever so slightly, I mean just barely, I mean not really at all hot, and I almost died.
I was saved partially by the RedBull kiosk where I purchased a small blister of ice cold water for five dollars which was so expensive I was forced to drink the water slowly because I’m a writer and $5 was all the cash I had. When you put searing hot lava in your mouth and your front teeth are melting down your chin, you should drink cold water very slowly so that your heart doesn’t stop and I did that because Jesus, it was like movie theater prices for water. So, yay, brilliant move, RedBull.
I could have raced up the stairs to the VIP lounge where some of the Neurosurgeons employed by Hooters would have happily pointed more or less toward the free water but I was too busy crawling along the floor and screaming and also by the time [My Attorney] shoved a water bottle into my flaming hands I’d gone blind.
I don’t personally feel that taste buds are really all that vital. Tasting food is not nearly as important as experiencing it or, in the case of hot wings, being chemically dissolved by it. As the skin of my tongue turned into ashes, [My Attorney] suggested LOUDLY that I eat a less intensely flavored chicken wing or maybe get a juice box and so I blindly groped along my wings plate until I found a wing and placed it into my mouth just before [My Attorney] gasped NOT THAT ONE!
This wing was, apparently, flavored with Light Sabers because instead of melting in my mouth, it burned a hole through the back of my head and killed a family of four.
Falling to the ground with my hands clutched to my heaving chest, I told [My Attorney] I loved her (she told me to shut up and act like a man for once) and prepared to meet my maker. My life flashed before my eyes and I remembered the other wings I’d sampled at this, my final festival.
Here are some of the wings I ate before I died:
Paisans Pizzeria & Bar
I walked by these wings 48 times with my nose in the air because I am a wing snob and I have standards and wings are not pizza. Except yes they are and the Pizza Wings from Paisans clearly set a standard for this perfect poultry portmanteau.
WING TYPE: Savory
HEAT LEVEL: None.
Wild Wings & Slots
Kam Pongi Wings
I tried to ask questions of their incredibly helpful and delightful staff but a) my mouth was full of their Kam Pongi wings with roasted garlic and sweet chili sauce covered by green onions and pickled radish, b) I was, therefore, swooning, and c) 500 people were pushing past me to get a fistful of this incredible dish.
WING TYPE: Adorable
HEAT LEVEL: Doritos
The Lockdown Bar & Grill
Kudos to these guys for their heavy metal cred. Their barbeque wings were gorgeous and as black as the death metal they must gave listened to while they made them. They looked like they were drowning in Mole except it was some kind of rich, silky barbeque sauce which surely included a midnight visit from Dimmu Borgir because they were so good they must have required a blood sacrifice and a portion of your soul.
WING TYPE: Ozzy Osbourne
HEAT LEVEL: Not
I mean, good lord. They’re just so good. They defy description. They are savory and spicy and sweet and tart and I want to marry them.
WING TYPE: Nueva Mexican
HEAT LEVEL: Manageable
Half Day Brewing
Smoked Wings with Devil’s Catsup
And here is where I went wrong. And ok, look, I know some of you are saying that these wings were not that hot, that truly hot wings are actually terrifyingly hot and the Devil’s Catsup sauce, while it is definitely hot, is not Ghost Pepper hot and I know you’re sneering at my weasley hot wings wimpitude and whatever. Everyone’s levels are different, Kyle. For me, they were hot. I went blind. I’m actually dead now.
WING TYPE: Satanic
HEAT LEVEL: Obituarial