With the Super Bowl and of course Wing Bowl fast approaching, wings are on the minds, and soon the tongues, of many. And as with so many staples of nonvegan culture, vegan wings are also getting attention.
Just for instance, Philly's own Blackbird Pizzeria was named one of the top 10 places in the country for vegan wings, in a new ranking from PETA. Cheers to Blackbird!
Meanwhile, further north, The Abbaye (637 N. 3rd Street) is prepping for the fourth annual Vegan Wing Bowl, which will be held this Saturday at 4 p.m. The $20 contestant fee includes all the vegan wings you can eat (of course) as well as Philadelphia Brewing Co. Beers and related swag. Winner gets a trophy, a cash prize and Philly Roller Girls roller derby tickets.
Why the latter? Abbaye owner Megan Wright said the Philly Roller Girls were a big part of the initial conception of a vegan-wing eating contest, as "a lot of them are vegan and vegetarian." Some of these women show up each year, she said, to pariticpate - sometimes as contestants, but more often as a sideline cheering section that replaces "Wingettes" with tough-as-nails athletes who still know how to get the blood boiling. (The roller derby season starts in March, in case you want to see them in their natural element.)
Erica Vanstone, PRG co-general manager, avowed that The Abbaye's wings are her favorite in town and recalled that the initial conversations were like, "If Nathan's Hot Dogs can do an eating contest every year, why can't we?" She added that part of the idea was "taking back" the concept from an orgy of meat, sex and testosterone and "promoting a different ideal, creating something more empowering" that focuses more on the athletic aspects of competitive eating.
Make no mistake, though, the Abbaye version is still raucous, messy, noisy and a barrel of fun. I caught a bit of the 2012 version and was impressed by both the dedication and sheer quantity of consumption on display. So if you're around Northern Liberties on Saturday afternoon, check it out for yourself!
If you're not, though, I offer as a secondary attraction a link to my Daily News Wing Bowl Game from years gone by, patterned on the animal-based variety but with the difference that since it's virtual, "No Actual Wings Were Harmed in the Creation of This Game," as the disclaimer states.
Every year, someone asks, "hey, why don't you post that Wing Bowl Flash game again so we can play it?" Well, now it's here for easy access, though the scorekeeping is now wonky. If you play, you'll be competing for your own personal glory. Let the games begin!
UPDATE 1/30: Tipster jojomonkey in comments pointed me to an actual 2nd Vegan Wing Bowl in Philly on Saturday. This one, at the Adobe Cafe on E. Passyunk, is newer than the Abbaye event, having just started up in 2013, and has comedy involved as well. But I talked to Adobe and confirmed that despite the ambiguous name.- the Veggie Wing Bowl and Comedy Spectacular - it is in fact a competitive-eating event and the food involved is vegan seitan wings. Plus, given its start time of 7:30 p.m., this means Philadelphians can conceivably attend both actual Vegan Wing Bowls, and still have time left over for a little Virtual Wing Bowl. Sounds like a fantastic Saturday if you ask me!