Buffalo Wild Wings Is Getting Sued Over 'Boneless Wings' (But Doesn't Seem Concerned)

A class action lawsuit aims to change how Buffalo Wild Wings labels its chicken.

Update, March 15, 2023: Buffalo Wild Wings doesn't seem too scared by the class action lawsuit being filed against it. The lawsuit, filed by a Chicago customer of the chain restaurant, alleges that so-called boneless wings are false advertising, since the name implies the customer will receive deboned chicken wings rather than what they actually receive, which is deep-fried chicken breast meat. If anything, boneless wings are just dressed-up nuggets, and the plaintiff is claiming financial injury as a result of this confusion.

After news of the lawsuit broke, the official Buffalo Wild Wings Twitter account posted this on Monday:

"It's true," reads the tweet. "Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken. Our hamburgers contain no ham. Our buffalo wings are 0% buffalo."

While the tweet didn't reference the lawsuit specifically, it's clear what it was referring to. And admittedly, I find this sarcastic public response to be a rather petulant straw man argument. Hamburgers, it is widely known, are so named because of a connection (however dubious) to the city of Hamburg, not to the pork product known as ham. And just about everyone understands that buffalo wings are named for their origin city of Buffalo, New York, not the animal. (Ironically, if anyone is responsible for obscuring the latter fact, it's Buffalo Wild Wings itself, whose logo is a buffalo. With wings.)

The main takeaway here is that Buffalo Wild Wings appears to be undaunted by the flurry of media coverage surrounding the lawsuit. Only time will tell if the restaurant chain is right to pooh-pooh it, or whether this becomes a legal case for the ages.

Original post, March 13, 2023: It's like déjà vu, except it really is happening all over again. Chicago news outlet WGN reports that a man has recently filed a class action lawsuit against Buffalo Wild Wings over its use of the term "boneless wings." This, you might be surprised to learn, is not the first time this matter has been amplified in the public square. The argument over boneless wings is a subject that we've reported on previously—just a few short years ago, in fact.

What is the Buffalo Wild Wings lawsuit about?

The plaintiff, Aimen Halim, purchased boneless wings this past January at a Buffalo Wild Wings location just outside of Chicago. He claims that the name "boneless wings" leads customers to believe that the product is simply the meat of a deboned chicken wing rather than what they actually are, which is "slices of chicken breast meat deep-fried like wings." According to the lawsuit, this makes the so-called wings more like chicken nuggets.


Halim's claim is that he suffered financial injury because if he'd known this fact about the "wings" prior to purchase, he wouldn't have bothered buying them, at least not at the price he paid for them.

The plaintiff cites the fact that Papa Johns calls its version Chicken Poppers instead of boneless wings (Domino's, meanwhile, calls its version Specialty Chicken). Because other chains don't call the product boneless wings, Halim has no beef (no pun intended) with how such chicken is sold elsewhere.

Past Buffalo Wild Wings controversy

In a prior debacle back in 2020, a chemical engineer from Lincoln, Nebraska, Ander Christensen, demanded that the Lincoln city council intervene in the nomenclature of boneless wings. He apparently felt so strongly about this that he presented his argument in person, and the moment went viral on Twitter.


Christensen's rant stopped short of becoming a lawsuit, however, and in a cheeky response, Buffalo Wild Wings eventually offered Christensen a full year of boneless wings for his valiant effort to rename them.

Though people have gripes over the term "boneless wings," nobody's gone as far as to sue Buffalo Wild Wings over it yet. But the plaintiff's main point—that the name "boneless wings" doesn't accurately describe the product—is one we can certainly understand. And there actually are strict regulations on other terms related to chicken: The USDA classifies chicken nuggets and chicken tenders differently, and their labels must reflect that. Will the presence of lawyers foster an industry-wide name change for boneless wings, too? We'll just have see how this plays out. There's always time for a revolution.