CHICAGO — A Chicago man has filed a class-action lawsuit against Buffalo Wild Wings, claiming the restaurant chain falsely advertises its boneless wings as the real deal, when in reality, he believes them to be nothing more than chicken nuggets.
According to court documents obtained by WGN, the plaintiff, Aimen Halim, filed a complaint Friday in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois against Buffalo Wild Wings and Inspire Brands Inc., an Atlanta-based company who the complaint says “is responsible for the composition, preparation, advertising, marketing and sale of” Buffalo Wild Wings’ product.
The complaint seeks to challenge what it calls “the false and deceptive marketing and advertising of Buffalo Wild Wings’ Boneless Wings,” and goes on to say, “Specifically, the name and description of the Products (i.e., as “Boneless Wings”) leads reasonable consumers to believe the Products are actually chicken wings.”
Halim claims Buffalo Wild Wings description of the product leads customers to believe their boneless wings are deboned chicken wings made up completely of chicken wing meat, when the product is actually slices of chicken breast deep fried like chicken wings, and are compositionally more like chicken nuggets.
Buffalo Wild Wings provided a tweet in response to a request for comment from WGN, which said, “It’s true. Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken. Our hamburgers contain no ham. Our buffalo wings are 0% buffalo.”
This all stems back to January 2023 when Halim bought boneless wings from a Buffalo Wild Wings in Mount Prospect, Illinois and thought just that: the boneless wings he purchased were exclusively made from chicken wing meat.
When Halim found out Buffalo Wild Wings’ boneless wings weren’t deboned chicken wings, he said he would not have purchased them, or would have paid significantly less for the product.
As a result, Halim said he suffered a financial injury due to the restaurant’s “false and deceptive conduct.”
Halim goes on to compare Buffalo Wild Wings to other fast food restaurant chains like Papa Johns and Domino’s in the complaint, noting that both companies sell products like Buffalo Wild Wings’ boneless wings, but they do not call them as such.
At Papa Johns, the product is called “Chicken Poppers,” while at Domino’s, they are called “boneless chicken.”
Another part of Halim’s complaint details background information behind how the practice of selling boneless wings became more commonplace, where he cites a 2009 article from the New York Times.
” … [I]n restaurants from Sarasota to Seattle, an improbable poultry part is showing up on menus: a little chunk of chicken breast that is fried and sauced and sold, with marketer’s brio, as a “boneless wing.” All this is happening because wholesale chicken prices have turned upside down. The once-lowly wing is selling at a premium over what has long been the gold standard of poultry parts, the skinless boneless chicken breast.”William Neuman, New York Times
Since the publication of Neuman’s article in the New York Times, selling ‘boneless wings’ has become more popular, but the cost of traditional chicken wings versus the cost of chicken breasts that make up boneless wings has fluctuated over the last several years.
A USDA National Retail Report found boneless, skinless chicken breast prices fell almost a full dollar a pound compared to rising bone-in wing prices in 2020, but over the last year, the price of regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts has fallen from $3.99 to $3.53 a pound, while whole wings have dropped from $4.29 to $2.30 a pound.
Halim is suing for relief from violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (ICFA), Breach of Express Warranty, Common Law Fraud and Quasi Contract/Unjust Enrichment/Restitution. The full complaint can be read below.