Wings are an integral part of the Penn State diet. I have seen dozens of disputes about the two most popular wing spots in State College: Zen Wings & Things and Wings Over Happy Valley. I took it upon myself to put this battle to rest by inviting 10 of my hungriest friends over to help me crown the winner. And eat a lot of wings. Below I have outlined the steps we took to declare a winner.
Choose wisely. We picked similar flavors from each restaurant for easy comparison. We got 16 flavors (spicy teriyaki x2), about 10 lbs, and it came to a startling $135.
Zen Flavors: Suicidal, Hot Garlic, mild buffalo, chipotle, Kickin’ Ranch, Kickin’ Cajun, spicy teriyaki and Seriously Spicy.
Wings Over Flavors: After Burner, garlic parmesan, Wimpy Buffalo, sweet chili, Mustang Ranch, Kickin’ BBQ, Cajun blackened, spicy teriyaki and Jamaican Jerk.
Watch the boys flock as the wings start piling up. Take a step back to admire the sheer size of your order. Also notice the Spoon drawing on the second box (as per requested, thanks Zen!)
Open all of the boxes, take a big whiff and fight everyone off so you can take pictures.
Note: Zen is in white boxes, nicely separated and labeled; Wings Over is in the black boxes, kindly separated by wax paper to prevent flavor-mixing (at the demand of a very adamant critic….).
Appreciate the beauty.
Open the gates. Go through each set of comparable flavors–the first we tried were Zen’s Suicidal vs. Wings Over’s After Burner Buffalo. Suicidal won by a landslide. After Burner was basically tarred and feathered.
Admire all your hard work and wash it down with a beer or two. Let’s get to the reviews.
And the winner is… ZEN WINGS & THINGS!
Zen took the W in nearly every flavor. While Wings Over has great chicken, especially bone-in, Zen’s sauces take the cake across the board. The most favored flavors were Zen’s Hot Garlic, Suicidal and Kickin’ Ranch. The least favorite were Wings Over Mustang Ranch (“tastes like a Cool Ranch Dorito”) and After Burner (“waste of time”).
Try these places out for yourself to see which are worth your money and heartburn. Don’t forget napkins!
Zen Wings & Things
Location: 433 E. Beaver Ave, State College, PA 16801
Hours of operation: Mon-Tues: 5 pm- 2:30 am, Wed -Fri: 5 pm – 3 am, Sat: 12:30 pm – 3 am, Sun: 12:30 pm – 1 am
Wings Over Happy Valley
Location: 244 W. Hamilton Ave, State College, PA 16801
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri: 4 pm- 1 am, Sat- Sun: 11 am – 3:30 pm