Like scrapple, the word “jawn” and the smell of SEPTA platforms, Wing Bowl is one of those things Philadelphians might find themselves struggling to explain to out-of-towners.
The annual wing-eating competition the Friday before the Super Bowl brings together a morning of drunken debauchery with an eating competition where the competitors are flanked by scantily-clad women. Some 20,000 people get shitfaced every year and crowd into the Wells Fargo Center to scream and watch and cheer for women who are flashing their bare chests to appear on the Jumbotron.
But reading what people from outside the city say about Wing Bowl is, well, hilarious. We found 10 national news stories about Wing Bowl and pulled some excerpts. Check them out here:
Headline: Philadelphia’s Simply Ravenous for a Winner
What they covered: The Times wrote what was basically a primer on the Wing Bowl as the city was gearing up for the Eagles’ upcoming appearance in the Super Bowl (!) For those of you who haven’t followed, the Eagles did not win and were beat by the Patriots, 24-21.
When they covered it: 2005
Notable excerpt: We think this paragraph is particularly… New York Times-y:
For weeks each year, WIP promotes this bacchanal, which grants automatic entry to its gastronomic superstars but requires feats of alimentary extreme for lesser contestants. One ate a one-and-a-half-pound Yankee candle to gain entry. Another swallowed six pounds of spinach in 79 seconds.
Headline: Wing Bowl: Chicken eating with a difference
What they covered: This British broadcasting organization seemed straight-up shocked by Wing Bowl and what it’s all about, so they wrote about it from the perspective of someone who’d clearly never been before. The story starts with the sentence: “It’s 5am and everybody’s already drunk.” Yes. Yes, they are.
When they covered it: 2014
Notable excerpt: “Realising” Wing Bowl isn’t all about, ahem, wings must have been a jarring experience for this Wing Bowl newbie:
Each entrance is styled to perfection, each contestant carefully costumed, each flanked by an entourage of strippers.
Yet I soon realise that the strippers are not the only women in the stadium expected to bare all for the crowd’s amusement.
You see, at the Wing Bowl, the eating of the wings is hardly the main event.
As the competition rumbles on – 30 minutes of wing-scoffing separated by a few commercial breaks – our eyes are on the Can Cam – a camera that picks out the chests of individual audience members and broadcasts them on the gargantuan JumboTron screens.
Headline: Vomit, Dennis Rodman and boobs: What it’s like inside the Philadelphia Wing Bowl
What they covered: People Magazine sent a self-described Philadelphia-area native/ Wing Bowl virgin to the event because “it seemed to incorporate two things [she] loved: wings and bowls.”
When they covered it: 2016
Notable excerpt: There’s a lot to choose from in this piece, but the beginning of the story describing a “spectacle of human beings” seems most appropriate:
Now 25, I decided it was time to truly understand my city. Because there is nothing more Philadelphia than this annual congregation of the city’s drunkest men, who arrive by the thousands to tailgate in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot at 4:00 a.m. The main event? The spectacle of human beings consenting to the consumption of hundreds and hundreds of wings, as well as the thrill of guaranteed projectile vomit. Oh, and there are scantily-clad women. But people in this town – and now across the nation, Philadelphians will try to tell you – take it very seriously.
Headline: It’s all beer, babes and Buffalo wings at 21st annual Wing Bowl as out of towner The Bear wins after eating 287 chicken pieces in 30 minutes to win $20,000
What they covered: This Daily Mail writer focused largely on the eating competition portion of Wing Bowl, noting that “Three-time champ and hometown favorite Jonathan ‘Super’ Squibb of Berlin, N.J., narrowly lost out to newcomer James ‘The Bear’ McDonald of Granby, Conn. who consumed 287 wings in just a half-hour.”
When they covered it: 2013
Notable excerpt: TFW you realize it ain’t about wings.
A notoriously raucous occasion, the Wing Bowl is held every year at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Fans start entering the stadium from 5am and the main event starts an hour later…
However in reality the competition is an excuse for a lot of people to get together and start drinking very early. Most fans began drinking as early as 5 a.m., although some won’t have stopped from the night before.
Women in the audience are encouraged to flash their breasts for the stadium’s Jumbotron. Also in attendance are the Wingettes, scantily-clad women who help to whip up the crowd’s interest and cheer on the contestants.
Headline: Snooki at Wing Bowl 2010: Philly boos her, and she flips the bird right back at them
What they covered: That time Snooki showed up at Wing Bowl, got booed by the crowd, flipped off the crowd then rode the mechanical bull. It also features this nice line: “Scroll down for video of Snooki getting booed.” Oh, I will.
When they covered it: 2010
Notable excerpt: We will never live this down.
Snooki shouldn’t feel too bad for the rude welcome. Philadelphia fans famously hurled snowballs at Santa Claus during a Eagles game in 1968.
Headline: At Wing Bowl XX, Two Competitive Eaters’ Legacies Are on the Line
What they covered: In normal Atlantic fashion, the magazine went looooong on Wing Bowl, writing about how prolific competitive eaters Takeru Kobayashi and Bill “El Wingador” Simmons were about to take each other on in Philly. (Kobayashi won.)
When they covered it: 2012
Notable excerpt: Catch a whiff of this rich prose:
You couldn’t make up the ways this year’s competitors made it into Wing Bowl XX. One veteran ate four pounds of lasagna in five minutes. Another vet ate 6 feet, 9 inches of sushi off Wingettes, the bikini-clad assistants who escort the Wing Bowl competitors to the stage. One rookie scarfed two pounds of pasta and one pound of rabbit (yes, rabbit) in 10 minutes. Another rookie, the only female in the competition, standing all of 5-feet tall, ate 10 feet of sausage in under five minutes. That’s just an appetizer. They’re all up against the three-time defending champion, Jonathan “Super” Squibb, a 20-something New Jersey accountant coming off a record-breaking performance last year.
And then there’s the icon and the legend. One will be reintroducing himself to a major competitive eating competition, looking for a win in his first Wing Bowl. The other will say goodbye to the event that made him famous, hoping to bring home his sixth Wing Bowl title. They’re friends and admire one another, but not when the competition is underway, not when parts of their legacies are on the line.
Headline: There Was A Brawl At The Wing Bowl And That’s Not So Delicious
What they covered: A BIG OL’ WING BOWL FIGHT.
When they covered it: 2016
Notable excerpt: Really just this spectacular YouTube video:
Headline: 65 Ridiculous Things That Happened At The Philly Wing Bowl
What they covered: BuzzFeed sent a coupla writers to Philly two years ago to cover the whole dang thing from the weigh-ins the night before to the debauchery that takes place as Wing Bowl is winding down. It’s… illuminating.
When they covered it: 2015
Notable excerpt: I desperately wish I could help this writer explain these things.
“El Clownador” had an entourage that basically looked like a bunch of people escaped a mental asylum and tried to put on a play. I have no idea what this costume is or why he’s with the clown.
Headline: The worst event ever (This is not a joke. That’s really the headline.)
What they covered: ESPN writer Jim Caple wrote about how he’d “found the heart of the Philly sports scene … and it isn’t pretty.” While he was pretty clearly disgusted by most of the event, he did write that “it’s like being at Cirque du Soleil.” So there’s that!
When they covered it: 2005.
Notable excerpt: Oooh, got ’em.
If you think the Super Bowl is too understated, if pro wrestling is too high-brow, if Detroit’s Devil’s Night is too tame, this is the competition for you. Basically, the Wing Bowl is an excuse for Philly fans to drink excessively, crowd into the Wachovia Center, ogle large-breasted women and heckle and throw crap at contestants.
In other words, it’s like the Flyers are playing again.
Headline: The Tao of Wing Bowl
What they covered: Then Deadspin writer and area-native A.J. Daulerio wrote about his first and only experience at the “gorge-puke-and-boobfest” where he urged readers to see it once in your life.
When they covered it: 2008
Notable excerpt: Maybe the best national story ever written about Wing Bowl, the Penthouse piece — like Daulerio — no longer exists on the internet.
Headline: OK, look. There’s no headline. It’s really up for debate whether or not this can even be considered news (it can’t). The audio for the coverage of Wing Bowl from the beginning of 2016 appears to have died somewhere inside the Internet. Lucky for you, Billy Penn listened to it more than a year ago and we have a partial transcript.
What they covered: Stern brought in Wolfie, one of his show staffers, to talk about what Wing Bowl’s like. A lot of the conversation revolved around the bathroom situation.
When they covered it: Early 2016.
Notable excerpt: Wolfie attended Wing Bowl at one point or another and described it to Stern like this: “Every guy in this place shits on the wall.” They played the audio of an interview he did with a Wells Fargo Center janitor, and the conversation went as such:
Wolfie: What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever had to clean up?
Janitor: Shit on the wall.
Wolfie: What does that do to your soul?
Janitor: Eats me up.
Wolfie: Anything you wanna tell people?
Janitor: Shit in the hole.
Stern went on to say that “Philly’s hardcore” and later recommended that Donald Trump — you know, the president of the United States — deport everyone at Wing Bowl.