Hello and thank you for returning to our blog for March. This month we decided to meander shamelessly away from small business to review an absolute juggernaut in the chicken wing industry: This week’s contender is Buffalo Wild Wings Medium Buffalo Wing Sauce.
Buffalo Wild Wings was established in 1982 by Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery. According to legend, in the late seventies, early eighties, the two men moved to Ohio from Buffalo, NY. They soon realized that their beloved Buffalo wings could only be allocated in New York. Saddened by this fact, and not willing to commute multi-hours; naturally, they launched the first ever Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant and it took off like a rocket.
Born of necessity, Buffalo Wild Wings became one of Ohio’s premier locales to enjoy a sporting event while consuming beer and eating wings slathered in various sauce options. Of course, mixing wings, sports, and beer wasn’t an original idea back then. Hooters, for example, had a similar concept. Still, nobody mixed the trio in the way Buffalo Wild Wings had. Due to this, their vision translated well across state lines and allowed B-dubs to carry the concept successfully to the masses nationwide.
Buffalo Wild Wings concept is so popular that B-dubs, as they are now known, is a corporation worth 3.669 billion dollars and has a total of 1,279 locations. Buffalo Wild Wings has established itself as a significant player in the chicken wing industry, and we’re humbled to try their product.
B-dubs Medium Sauce has a distinguished orange color. The color is a little darker hue than most wing sauces, but we assume this is due to the sauce’s medium flavor profile. Plain ordinary hot sauce is usually a darker red. Most mild flavored wing sauces will be a lighter orange color. The lighter color of wing sauce is typically due to the amount of butter or oil added to the hot sauce. The more butter/oil added to the hot sauce, the more delicate and milder the buffalo wing sauce flavor profile. The darker the wing sauce, usually, the spicier it is. Since this is a medium sauce, it only makes sense that it’s a tad darker in color. Overall, this orange color screams wing sauce, and we dig it.
Sauce Color = 10
The bottles sticker design is one hundred percent on-brand with expectations from this company. If you took away the lettering and revealed only the bottle’s influence, you would recognize the branding without hesitation. The bottle is adorned with the classic black and yellow B-dubs colors, and the “all black silhouette” of the famous winged buffalo positioned in the center of the yellow circle is located right next to the bold yellow/orange block text.
All of these characteristics are wonderful; however, we should note that the bottle is plastic instead of glass. That being said, they added a flip-top cap with a small hole for sauce extrusion. When the lid is lifted, and when the bottle is positioned at a forty-five-degree downward angle, giving the plastic bottle a slight squeeze will cause the sauce to shoot out of the nozzle in a very satisfying way which also coats the wings well. As stated before, we aren’t a fan of plastic bottles, but shooting sauce makes the plastic bottle aspect functional. Therefore, the hole makes all the difference. This was well thought out.
Bottle Design = 10
The text is well placed, and they use dark black in contrast to the bright yellow which sends the text soaring into view and is easily legible throughout the bottle. B-dubs applies the reciprocal of this technique on the back of the bottle, where they use a white background and black text to list the nutritional facts. As a result, we can read everything on this bottle very easily.
The previous paragraph comes with one exception. The word “medium” is white, and it is placed on a light-yellow background which doesn’t make it impossible to read, but it’s harder to read than the other text on the bottle. The heat component of sauce is an significant word to see on a bottle, especially due to it being the spice temperature level. For this reason, we’re going to subtract one point.
Legibility = 9
With exception to that one minor issue, we believe that B-dubs is on brand like they always are, and they did a stellar job on this bottle.
Overall = 9.67
Water, Cayenne Red Pepper, Distilled Vinegar, Soybean Oil, Salt, Egg Yolk, Modified Cornstarch, Xanthan Gum, Garlic*, Spice, Natural Artificial Flavors, Onion*, Corn Syrup, Molasses, Caramel Color, Sugar, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Tamarind, *Dehydrated.
B-dubs’ first ingredient is water? We were surprised to see this was the first ingredient on the list. If you aren’t aware of how the list of ingredients works, let us explain. The ingredients are listed from most to least. Meaning, the first ingredient has the most weight in the recipe, and the last ingredient weights the least.
So, what is this ingredient list telling us? When you buy B-dubs Medium Wing Sauce, you purchase a lot of water. Water doesn’t have a taste and usually takes away from the flavor profile of a sauce, but B-dubs sauce was flavorful. The fact that they are selling mainly water and lost nothing in flavor is remarkable, which also bodes well for their bottom line due to water being cheap.
Next in the ingredients list are the usual suspects. Cayenne pepper, vinegar, soybean oil, and salt. These ingredients are the classic wing recipe, except they swapped the butter for soybean oil.
Further down the list, we find three different types of sweeteners in this recipe. Corn syrup, molasses, and sugar. This is strange. Why not just use corn syrup and call it a day like most large companies? We would love to find out the logic behind this decision.
And finally, Calcium Disodium EDTA. This is an ingredient that is also used in cosmetics. In food, it’s used as an anti-caking/cation buffer and has been shown to preserve flavors, colors, and textures. However, some people have raised concerns about its use in food. According to WebMD, large doses of EDTA’s can cause abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, low blood pressure, skin problems, and fever (WebMD, 2020).
With that being said, most of the research that we have conducted shows that this food additive overall is safe to consume at low levels and shouldn’t create much of a health risk (Berkheiser, 2018).
The Bone Sauce is a pro-science company even though we use zero chemicals in our flagship product. However, as such, we acknowledge that the science behind different subjects often changes. Still, as of the moment of writing this blog, the science suggests that this is a safe substance, so we are simply reporting the scientific consensus with zero bias in either direction of the topic.
So, how do we feel about B-dubs Medium Flavored Wing Sauce? In this category, we are obligated to look at the ingredients singularly. For this reason, we have to give a low score. The ingredients are all over the place due to what we can only assume to be the food scientist’s attempt at making a perfect emulsification using water, soybean oil, egg, corn starch, and xanthan gum. None of these ingredients are in the classic wing sauce, so they really shouldn’t be on the B-dubs Medium Sauce ingredients list.
We feel that time was misappropriated due to the scientists showing a lack of ingenuity. They successfully emulsified the oil into the sauce, but instead, they should have been attempting to solve the butter oil emulsification issues in order to stay true to the original ingredients. If they got the oil to emulsify, why not butter? It seems like they spent a lot of time adding oil when oil isn’t even in the original recipe, and to us, that makes zero sense.
One positive aspect of the ingredients list is the fact that the recipe for a classic wing sauce is buried in the ingredients list. However, that formula is hidden and lost in translation due to the other ingredients added. It feels as though the scientists went super-science on this bottle, and they lost touch with the essential components that make a classic wing sauce special. The lack of butter and the addition of three, maybe four, sweet elements that we couldn’t even distinguish also take away from the chicken wing sauce experience. I mean, is caramel color sweet? We don’t know, and we’re not going to spend the time looking up the answer because it shouldn’t be in the recipe anyway.
The ingredients list is scientifically fascinating but is overdone and should be simplified. Due to these reasons, we have to give them a low score in this area.
Ingredients = 4
Texture of Sauce:
B-dubs sauce has a good texture. It’s not too thick, and it isn’t too runny. It sticks on the wing well, and the sauce’s flow through the squeeze nozzle is just entertaining.
Texture of Sauce = 10
Overall Execution Points = 7
B-dub’s sauce tastes like a classic wing sauce without the butter. It has the texture and color but there is zero butter taste, and the sauce lacks for that reason. The most pronounced flavor of this sauce is vinegar, followed by salt, and then a very mild spice. The sauce has a nice mouthfeel, and even though it contains oil, the oil has been emulsified very well and is barely detectable.
Earlier, we stated that this sauce contains three different sweeteners: sugar, corn syrup, and molasses. However, we should note that we couldn’t detect any sweetness or maybe just a very mild hint to the sauce. Needless to say, this was surprising because we were fully expecting this sauce to be on the sweeter side, and it’s not.
Stand-alone Test = 4
Flavor on Wing:
On the wing, the flavor is reminiscent of any chicken wing sauce that you’ve had in the past that didn’t contain butter. That being said, the taste is not a complete disappointment. In fact, it’s not a half bad wing sauce compared to the other bottled sauces that are on the market. The vinegar cuts through the strong tastes of the wing which keeps the palate interested. Nevertheless, the sauce is one-dimensional in that way, and we wish there were more notes, but the salt and vinegar aspect are very reminiscent of wing sauces of yesteryear which is kind of nice for nostalgic purposes only.
Flavor on Wing – 5
We felt that the heat for this product was mild. It’s supposed to be medium, but we ate twelve wings with zero blue cheese, and honestly, we didn’t need it. Without having tried the hot sauce, we can’t say if it is any better, but we feel as though the hot version of the sauce might be a better representation of a complementary heat component. The medium was underwhelming.
Heat = 4
Total for Taste Category = 4.33
The Sauce Summary
Overall, we feel that this sauce was a little under average compared to all wing sauces, however, it’s better than most of their bottled peers. The addition of butter, increased heat, and an increase to the sugar component would have done wonders to this sauce. This is not a bad product, but it could use a little work.
1. Appearance – 9.67
a. Color of Sauce = 10
b. Bottle Design = 10
c. Legibility = 9
2. Execution – 7.0
a. Ingredients = 4
b. Texture of Sauce = 10
3. Taste – 4.33
a. Flavor Alone = 4
b. Flavor on Wing = 5
c. Level of Heat = 4
d. Butter Bonus (if applicable) + 1 point = 0
Total Score = 7.0
Berkheiser, K. (2018, October 27). Healthline. Retrieved from Is Calcium Disodium EDTA A Safe Additive?: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/calcium-disodium-edta
WebMD. (2020, January 05). Retrieved from EDTA- Uses, Side Effects, and More: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1032/edta