12 Sauced-Up Facts About Buffalo Wild Wings

What began, appropriately, with two wing-obsessed dudes back in 1982 has become a global empire. Buffalo Wild Wings, with its sliding scale of sauces and more screens per location than NASA Mission Control, has over 1,000 restaurants in the U.S. and a growing number abroad delivering the oh-so-American gift of sauce-slathered chicken parts. B-Dubs, as it’s affectionately known, is truly a modern-day success story. Here for your consumption is a bucket of piping-hot facts—blue cheese dressing and carrot sticks not included.

1. It all started in…Ohio.

Buffalo wings may have originated in New York state, but it was in the nation’s heartland that Buffalo Wild Wings took flight. Two Buffalo natives living in Columbus, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery, missed their beloved hometown wings and couldn’t find a restaurant that served them. So they built their own.

2. It was originally called “Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck.”

This is the source of the company’s still-popular nickname, BW3. But what the heck is a weck? If you’re from western New York, you likely know the answer: It’s a thin-sliced roast beef sandwich served with horseradish and au jus, and named for the roll (kummelweck) that holds it all together. Apparently it’s delicious, but wasn’t popular enough to keep on the menu.

3. One of the co-founders was huge in the figure skating world.

Buffalo wings made Jim Disbrow rich, but his true passion was figure skating. He won national medals competing in his teenage years, was named an alternate for the 1968 U.S. Olympic team, and eventually became a renowned coach and judge. He was also chairman of the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s International Committee during the Kerrigan-Harding dust-up, and served as the association’s president from 1998 to 2000.  

4. The TVs originally played music videos.

These days the chain is all about sports, sports and more sports. But back in the day, you could down a platter of hot wings while watching Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.”

5. It grew by placing its restaurants near college campuses.

Seems like a no brainer, right? The company smartly figured that college students would go wild for cheap wings by the bucketful. It placed stores near campuses throughout the Midwest, then expanded its appeal to include families and wing nuts everywhere.

6. They have a gallery of retired sauces.

Not every sauce that the company’s mad scientists cook up has staying power. Cast-offs include everything from the probably-too-sweet (Salted Caramel BBQ) to the probably-too-spicy (Wicked Wasabi) to the definitely-too-spicy (Ghost Pepper).

7. They thrived during the recession.

Two words: Cheap entertainment. While the rest of the industry hemorrhaged money, Buffalo Wild Wings actually turned a profit by marketing itself as the place to watch the big game.

8. They sell nearly two billion wings every year.

That’s more than one billion boneless and 768 million traditional wings. During this year’s March Madness, their marquee event, they sold more than 100 million.

9. Now, you can order your 'Asian Zing' Wings in Asia.

In addition to doubling its store count since 2008, the company has taken buffalo wings abroad. There are locations in Mexico and Dubai, and this year B-Dubs launched in the Philippines.

10. Their current CEO kind of fell into the job.

Back in 1996, the company hired a new CEO to run its then 30-restaurant outfit. The guy failed to show up on his first day, so one of the directors turned to CFO Sally Smith and said: “I guess you’re going to have to do it.” More than twenty years later, she’s still at the helm.

11. There’s a Blazin’ Wings Challenge

If you’re not afraid of a little heat and absolutely covet free T-shirts, you can take the Blazin’ Challenge, which involves eating 12 of the company’s hottest wings in under 6 minutes. The rules include no drinks, no dipping sauces, and no puking. And no crying. There's no crying in wing eating.

12. They’re hiring people to change the channels.

In addition to turning on the big game, the “guest experience captains,” which the company began hiring during this year’s March Madness, are also tasked with chatting up customers and promoting the brand.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


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