John Young, original king of Buffalo Wings, is finally getting more recognition

Originally published at: John Young, original king of Buffalo Wings, is finally getting more recognition | Boing Boing

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It’s a little more complicated than that. Near as anyone can tell (since the recipe was never published and he claimed to learn it from a DC native cook) Young’s Mambo sauce was derived from the DC area sauce of the same name.

The usual recipes for which do not closely resemble today’s stock butter and hot sauce Buffalo Wing recipe or Anchor Bar’s published recipe.

There’s also good evidence that several other places both in Buffalo and other parts of upstate New York were serving wings we’d recognize as Buffalo Wings today. Sometimes under the name Mambo sauce after Young but before Anchor Bar. Particularly Duff’s, which seems to have established the basic butter and hot sauce base as the default and possibly beat Anchor Bar to the punch by a couple years. There are printed menus and ads from the era. As well as published recipes, often as Mambo Sauce early on resembling both DC Mumbo Sauce and modern Buffalo Sauce. Anchor bar’s accounts are both variable in how they were miraculously invented, and as to dates. Dates that don’t match records of their own menus and advertisements.

So the chain seems to be this. John Young learned of a DC area sauce and preference for fried wings and began serving his own spin on it around Upstate NY. If memory serves he was doing this before 1963 or at least advertising the sauce. That lead to clones of his Mambo sauce proliferating in Upstate NY. Where upon restaurants in Buffalo (and Binghamton) began iterating on it. Leading to the un-breaded, hot sauce and butter wings we know today by 1964-1965

Somewhat rarely for these things Young seems to be 100%, confirmably an origin point. Introducing a version of a DC area dish to the Buffalo area. And the more you poke Anchor Bar with a stick the more they seem 1) late to the party 2) outside the general chain for the development of the recipe


John, thanks for developing the wings, but bleu cheese and celery provide a brilliant counterpoint in flavor, I urge you to give it another try!

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I thought everybody in Buffalo prefers Duff’s to the Anchor Bar, anyway.

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they tend to serve wings with ranch dressing out west, and it is a travesty.

But honestly, while I like blue cheese on a salad or even on a burger, I don’t get the buffalo wing thing. Sauce on sauce doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t hold up. I regularly make Tabasco wings, as a tangy substitute to Crystal hot sauce.

I’d love to try John Young’s original version. I’ve never had Mumbo sauce and looking at some of the recreations of the recipe, I think my wife would like it.

The buffalo wing thing is the hot sauce base on an unbreaded wing.

The point of ranch or blue cheese is that capsaicin is fat soluble, so dairy (including the butter in the sauce) tends to bind it up. Cooling off your mouth and making the wings milder. Idea is an occasional dip tones down the spice as it builds up from eating many wings.

On top of that a properly fried wing will soak up a lot of sauce while remaining crisp. So a lightly sauced wing is fairly dry, rather than being sauce on sauce.

I tend to like my wings saucey though. It’s not neccisarily any more messy with the occasional bit of ranch. Far from being a travesty ranch is pretty common as a side dip going way back, right along side blue cheese. Not out west, but right there in Upstate NY.

Buffalo tends to blame it on Binghamton and vice versa. Or both blame it on Rochester or Manhattan (because in those parts all problems in life come from the Five Boroughs). But it’s just the result of not everyone liking blue cheese dressing.

Rochester is innocent. Not once was I offered ranch with my garbage plate, let alone my wings.

In California you can get ranch dip for your pizza. And you always get it with fried jalapenos. The worst is that some sports bars serve “buffalo wings” and don’t even carry blue cheese dressing, only ranch. It’s like they are not even trying. (or almost nobody cares for blue cheese)

Came in to help set record’s straight, see @Ryuthrowsstuff already doing the good work!

As for ranch dressing. It doesn’t belong on wings any more than it belongs on a salad or anywhere else it’s used. The flavor it delivers is overpowering while still being bland. If you want everything to taste like ranch… well sure, I suppose, but blue cheese is the classy alternative.

The real bummer though: It seems like less and less wing places are making their own blue cheese or getting the good stuff. It’s all the Ken’s pre-packaged stuff, which is sub-par.

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