Americans are projected to eat 1.45 billion chicken wings this Super Bowl Sunday. That’s four wings for every person in the country, according to the National Chicken Council. That’s a lot of wings, and it makes sense — chicken wings and football just go together. But wings probably weren’t such a fan favorite at the first Super Bowl in 1967. So how did this dynamic duo become so popular today?

Here’s some chicken wing history.

The origins of Buffalo chicken wings (the OG wing flavor) are contested. Some say the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York first served the spicy snack in 1964. Others credit Buffalo-based restaurateur John Young, who apparently began serving chicken wings in mumbo sauce in 1963 and opened his restaurant Wings N’ Things in 1964.

It’s a spicy subject, to say the least, but we can be sure of two critical facts: Buffalo chicken wings originated in Buffalo, New York, and did not gain widespread popularity as a sports bar snack until the 1970s and 80s. Thankfully, wings have become ubiquitous over the last few decades, and are now available in sports bars across the country in countless flavors.

What’s so great about eating chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday anyway?

I don’t always watch football at sports bars, but when I do, I order chicken wings. I rarely consume wings in my everyday life, because they are messy, inconvenient, and difficult to eat. However, these downsides actually work to their advantage as a football snack.

Yes, it’s hard to look graceful and composed while eating chicken wings (unless you’re Taylor Swift), but that’s okay because everyone is going to be focused on the game, not you. Yes, eating wings is messy and requires concentration, but let’s be real, football isn’t always so exciting. It's a 60-minute game stretched over three hours. There’s gonna be a lot of downtime. If you have a plate of chicken wings, you can use this time to focus on the delicate art of gracefully consuming your wings without getting sauce everywhere.

LaNiece A. Gonzalez

Besides these practical factors, there’s something profoundly satisfying about eating chicken wings while watching football. As I eat my chicken wings, I feel a certain kinship with the football players. As they tackle each other over a weirdly shaped ball, I tackle a boney hunk of meat with no utensils. It’s all a little primal on some level. Except, of course, my hunk of meat has a nice sriracha-honey sauce and comes with a side of ranch and celery, while the players wear colorful leggings and are broadcast on national television.

Chicken wings and football complement each other perfectly. Football doesn’t always make sense, and neither do chicken wings. Both are disappointing at times, cannot be passively consumed, and require engagement. But one thing’s for certain, both can also be deeply satisfying, and when they hit, they hit.

To me, chicken wings are truly the ultimate football food. So no matter which team you’re rooting for, I hope you enjoy some delicious wings this weekend.