© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

National Chicken Wing Day brings out the Mumbo Sauce on who originated the Buffalo essential

A chicken wing being dipped into a steel pot of red sauce
Mike Desmond
Lina Young dips chicken wings into her family favorite Mumbo Sauce.

Lina Young wants her father, John, remembered as the man who made the Buffalo chicken wing an essential part of Western New York's cuisine.

She was at the HUB on Pratt Street Thursday, greeting a line of people waiting for their chance to buy wings dunked in her re-creation of her father's special sauce.

She said John Young first started selling wings in large quantities in his food store at Jefferson Avenue and Carlton Street.

"So my Dad rolled his wings and breaded, breaded it in a flower mixture, and most people who do fried chicken, kind of like the soul food of fried chicken, kind of similar," she said. "But, yes, his sauce was unique. He called his sauce Mumbo Sauce. It's a tomato-based sauce, but he added fruits and things to his sauce."

Young said her father started focusing on wings in the early 1960s with that Mumbo sauce.

"Around that time that he started selling whole chicken wings," she said. "And it was based off a suggestion of a sports person, Sam Anderson, a boxer that came through Buffalo and was telling him about wings that were being sold in Washington, D.C. and the man told him that the wings were a pretty big seller there and just suggested he might try it. So my Dad did try it and it took off."

Her father left the area in the 1970s and when he came back, was amazed at the number of places selling wings, particularly the Anchor Bar on Main Street. That's known to many as the home of the wing, but Young maintains it was not the first.

"So many people are selling chicken wings now and in unique ways, but I think it's unfair that he doesn't get the credit for what he started and he said that until he died," Young said. "He was concerned about that. Not so much that everybody was selling wings, but that he didn't get the credit for starting the Buffalo chicken wing."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.