Wing Bowl explained, partly defended

Posted: February 01, 2013

For the uninitiated, the curious and the quite confused (you know who you are . . . or maybe not), here's a rundown of the basics about Wing Bowl, disguised as a Q&A.

What is Wing Bowl? It's an annual chicken-wing eating contest dreamt up by WIP morning-show cohost Al Morganti in 1993 so Eagles fans would have a reason to get excited the weekend of the Super Bowl. On radio, you'll hear the voluble voice of co-conspirator Angelo Cataldi as the master of ceremonies, with saner views from Rhea Hughes.

When is it? Where is it? Wing Bowl XXI will be held Feb. 1, 2013, at the Wells Fargo Center. Doors open about 5 a.m., roughly an hour before event officially starts.

Slobs eating wings, what's the big deal? It's not about the wings, wingnut! It's February, the dreariest month of the year, when folks are going crazy with cabin fever, especially in a gotta-be-proper society where a guy can't even have a fake girlfriend without every Tom, Dick and Katie Couric demanding explanations! So, you know, once a year, why can't hordes of yahoos have a pretext to let loose, laugh at other guys parading in funny costumes, and start drinking early? OK, twice a year, since that also describes the Mummers Parade. Wing Bowl's a wild spectacle to talk about and remember. It's "Fellini meets the Hell's Angels at a family picnic," Morganti once told the New York Times. It combines "the raucous fervor of a frat party and a 'Girls Gone Wild' video," the Times wrote. Rumor has it attendees also enjoy indulging their aesthetic sensibilities by occasionally perusing the few dozen scantily clad Wingettes or noting when local strip club workers flash free samples.

Shouldn't Wingettes be ashamed of themselves? Not according to " Don't you dare slut-shame the Wingettes," by sexologist Jill McDevitt.

What catchphrase sums up Wing Bowl's rules? "If you heave, you leave." Translation: Pukers are disqualified.

What's the most memorable Wing Bowl moment ever? In 2001, a contestant nicknamed "Sloth" got sick and videos of him spewing like a fire hydrant went viral. The clip has been helpfully replayed on the Jumbotron at later Wing Bowls to, uh, "test" eyeball-bulging, mouth-covering, cheek-puffing panicky contestants.

Would any self-respecting person dare to show his face at Wing Bowl? When Ed Rendell was mayor, he awarded the trophy several times and helped Wing Bowl go big-time by helping it move to the Spectrum and the First Union Center. Sen. Arlen Specter attended. So did Rep. Bob Brady. Former Sixers president Pat Croce was a Wing Bowl commissioner, and so was major-league umpire Eric Gregg. Larry Bowa reportedly went when he was Phillies manager.

How do I get tickets? The tickets sold out quickly weeks ago. But about 300 were still available via online reseller StubHub with a day to go.

What if I can't get in? Listen on 94 WIP on FM. Check out stories, photos and video on websites like's Wing Bowl page or Watch local morning news for reports. Or sign up for the first-ever Wing Bowl pay-per-view, a one-hour recap and more, offered through WIP's corporate parent, CBS, at

Who makes the wings? P.J. Whelihan's Pub. Here's how.

How much time do the eaters have? A half-hour. There are two 14-minute rounds, followed by one last mad gnash dash for two minutes.

How many can one guy eat? Last year, professional eater Takeru Kobayashi destroyed the field, inhaling a record-shattered 337 wings - a rate of more than 11 per minute.

What, competitors take Wing Bowl seriously? Some do, indubitably. Competitive eating is a big deal in the United States, sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. For five years, from 2004 to 2008, IFOCE pros competed, with Joey Chestnutt of California winning three times. Five-time champ Bill "El Wingador" Simmons, of Gloucester County, said he trained by chewing frozen Tootsie Rolls to strengthen his jaw.

Didn't "El Wingador" go to jail? He was arrested in July by New Jersey state troopers on charges of cocaine distribution and awaits trial.

Pros or no pros, which is it this year? After the IFOCE severed ties, the event went all-amateur for three years, with Jonathan "Super" Squibb of Berlin, N.J., victorious each time. Last year, independent pro Kobayashi got a special invite to take on Squibb. This year, no big-name pros are expected under a new two-tier format. Squibb will take on challengers from five other cities in the top category. Twenty-one locals are expected in a locals-only category. (See complete list of Wing Bowl competitors, with odds.)

What are the prizes? $20,000 to whoever eats the most wings. A new Nissan Pathfinder to the top local eater. The best entourage in the event-opening parade will get a dozen trips to a Dominican resort. The best Wingette will win a Harley Davidson Sportster.

Does Wing Bowl have a theme song? It has a new anthem this year, sung by "Rick the Manager." " Wing Bowl! Wing Bowl! Wing Bowl!" it starts off. "I can clean my wings," Rick sings, with a woman adding, "Just like that." Then she sings, "He can clean his wings," and he adds, "Just like that." Compared to its cruder moments, this is one of the tamer lines: "Honey flashes in the stands, I wonder who brought her / Please kind in mind that she's somebody's daughter."

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or

comments powered by Disqus