The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 30, 2013

Mike Pound: Annual King of Wings Cook-off nears

By Mike Pound

— A few years ago, I wrote that there was no such thing as a bad bowl of chili. Even a lousy bowl of chili is still pretty good.

Then, a few days later, I had a bowl of chili that was the foulest, worst thing I have ever had in my life.

Chicken wings are like that.

I guess it’s possible to come across a bad chicken wing, but so far I have never been served a bad one.

Sure, once, many years ago, using a rub that had been given to me by a friend, I served up a mess o’ wings that was extremely salty. But that wasn’t really my fault, and the wings were still OK.

I should point out, once again, that when referring to chicken wings, it is proper, if not mandatory, to use the expression “mess o’” — as in: “Boy howdy, Merle, them was sure a fine mess o’ chicken wings.”

You also may use the term “mess o’” when referring to ribs, but you probably shouldn’t use “mess o’” when referring to, say, chicken cordon bleu.

“Hey, Henri, would you fix up Merle a mess o’ chicken cordon bleu?”

It just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The folks with the Joplin Emancipation Park Day Committee are once again looking for the best “mess o’ wings fixer” in the area as they get ready for their annual King of Wings Cook-off.

Jim West and William Kean have been heading up the wing war for several years now. Jim sent me an email the other day to let me know that this year’s cook-off will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Kitchen Pass, 1212 S. Main St.

In years past, I have helped judge the wing contest, and I can verify that there are some chefs and business owners in the area who know a thing or two about chicken wings.

The great thing about serving up a mess o’ chicken wings is that there is virtually no limit as to how you can fix them.

In the past, I’ve had breaded chicken wings. I’ve had wings that have been sauced. I’ve had fried wings, and I’ve had baked wings. I’ve had wings prepared on a barbecue grill, and I’ve had wings fried in a wok. I’ve had hot wings and sweet wings. I’ve had wings prepared in a vinegar-based sauce, and I’ve had wings dusted with dry ranch dressing. I’ve had garlic wings, and I’ve had sesame wings. I’ve had wings with Tabasco sauce, and I’ve had wings with soy sauce.

I guess what I’m saying is that when it comes to wings, the sky is the limit.

So if your restaurant or someone who works in your restaurant has a wing recipe that might be trophy-worthy, Jim and William would like to hear from you.

The entry fee is $25, and the wings used in the contest will be provided by Tyson Foods. The winner of the annual contest will get to display the King of Wings Cook-off traveling trophy.

I told Jim that as we get closer to the contest date, I will remind folks that the cook-off is a great way for wing fans to get on the outside of a great mess o’ wings. But I guess it wouldn’t hurt to let you know that ahead of schedule. Once the cook-off judging has ended, you can sample the wings served in the cook-off for $5.

As always, I need to point out that the key word is “sample.” In one of the first years of the cook-off, a number of people figured that “sample” meant “take everything in sight, leaving nothing for anyone else.”

What it means is this: Sample one of each wing in the contest and move on down, leaving plenty for everyone.

If you would like to enter the King of Wings Cook-off, call 417-782-0055 or 417-483-1752.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.