A new class-action lawsuit filed in Illinois alleges that chicken chain Buffalo Wild Wings is conducting “deceptive” business practices over claims its “boneless wings” are actually just chicken nuggets.
The lawsuit was filed March 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by plaintiff Aimen Halim — who currently resides in Chicago — on behalf of himself and potentially many others across the country affected by what the plaintiff said are “false and deceptive marketing and advertising” of Buffalo Wild Wings’ Boneless Wings.
“The name and description of the Products (i.e., as ‘Boneless Wings’) leads reasonable consumers to believe the Products are actually chicken wings,” the lawsuit says. “In other words, that the Products are chicken wings that have simply been deboned, and as such, are comprised of entirely chicken wing meat.”
Halim’s suit states that in January of this year, he purchased Boneless Wings from a Buffalo Wild Wings in Mount Prospect, Illinois and that, based on the name and description of the menu item, he believed that it was actual wings that were deboned.
“Unbeknownst to Plaintiff and other consumers, the Products are not wings at all, but instead, slices of chicken breast meat deep-fried like wings,” reads the lawsuit. “Indeed, the Products are more akin, in composition, to a chicken nugget rather than a chicken wing.”
“Had Plaintiff and other consumers known that the Products are not actually chicken wings, they would have paid less for them, or would not have purchased them at all,” the suit continues. “Therefore, Plaintiff and consumers have suffered injury in fact, as a result of Defendants’ deceptive practices.”
The defendants named in the suit include Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. and parent company Inspire Brands, Inc.
Contacted for comment, a representative for both companies pointed to a Twitter post on the official Buffalo Wild Wings Twitter account.
“It’s true. Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken. Our hamburgers contain no ham. Our buffalo wings are 0% buffalo,” the post said.
“This clear-cut case of false advertising should not be permitted, as consumers should be able to rely on the plain meaning of a product’s name and receive what they are promised,” the suit says. “This is particularly true in a case like this one, where consumers value actual wings, and where Defendant has no valid reason for misleading consumers, other than to promote a cheaper product along with its actual chicken wings.”
The filing later points to the fact that other companies sell comparable products to Buffalo Wild Wings’ “Boneless Wings” and avoid the use of the “wings” moniker. These include Domino’s Pizza, which has a menu item called “Boneless Chicken,” and Papa John’s, which has a similar menu item called “Chicken Poppers.”
“It should be noted that Domino’s Pizza and Papa Johns also sell actual chicken wings, and that, a restaurant named Buffalo Wild ‘Wings’ should be just as careful if not more in how it names its products,” reads the suit.
The suit also states that “if Buffalo Wild Wings was being transparent with its customers, it could readily change the name of the Products” to “boneless chicken” or disclose on its menu that the Products are actually made of chicken breast meat. “Buffalo Wild Wings is well aware of this issue, but has refused to change its practices,” the suit continues.
The lawsuit aims to represent an estimated “thousands” of consumers around the country who, like Halim, purchased the chain’s “Boneless Wings” at one of the chain’s more than 1,200 locations.
Halim is seeking “damages, injunctive relief, restitution, declaratory relief, and all other remedies the Court deems appropriate,” but the suit does not state an exact monetary amount.
This plantiff is far from the first person to cry fowl about the terminology of “boneless wings.”
Just this past February, Ted Anthony of the Associated Press called boneless wings a “culinary lie” — along with “baby carrots” and “Chilean sea bass” — in an impassioned article.
And in September 2020, Ander Christensen, a citizen of Lincoln, Nebraska, made an impassioned speech on the subject when the floor was opened to the public for comments during a Lincoln City Council meeting.
“We’ve been living a lie,” he said to members of the council, with many present erupting into laughter, although he reprimanded the giggles from the gallery and continued his credo. “I propose we as a city remove the term boneless chicken wings from our menus — and from our hearts.”