Your chicken wings are made of... chicken, probably

A rumor about rat meat in chicken wings is making the rounds again.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Plate of buffalo chicken wings
Photo: Smith Collection/Gado (Getty Images)

Social media has breathed life back into the false claim that a million pounds of rat meat is being sold as boneless chicken wings in the US, according to the Associated Press. Apparently, rumors like this have been swirling around since at least 2016. And they’re just that: rumors. Rat meat is not secretly in your chicken wings (unless you put it there yourself, in which case, live your life!).

According to Snopes, the origin of the rumor appears to be a fake news website that claimed in 2016 that the FDA had intercepted the delivery of 300,000 pounds of rat meat at a San Francisco port, heroically stopping it from being repackaged as chicken. But there still was a chance that some rat meat had made it into chicken wings, even some chicken wings that you, the consumer, might be gnawing on for Super Bowl Sunday.

In 2017 and 2018, the rumors resurfaced again, which prompted FDA representative Peter Cassell to make a statement both years. “This story is not true,” he told the AP in an email, probably in between shrieking into a pillow.

Advertisement

So why won’t this rumor die? Who is spinning chaos come February? What are they getting out of it? Is it just this fake news site getting its clicks? Is it something more SINISTER????

Probably not. Speculation from experts (me) is that perhaps it’s just a spicy rumor that gets people going, much like the time a childhood friend’s brother tried to convince eight-year-old-me that teachers shoot you with poison on the last day of the third grade. Maybe skepticism about the food you’re eating is just a Super Bowl tradition now, covertly funded by Big Michael Pollan. Maybe the source of the rumor is actually a chicken wearing blue light glasses and a hoodie, frantically hopping on a keyboard for the good of chickenkind. Maybe someone has it out for Pete Cassell.

Advertisement

After spending tireless minutes scouring the internet for a hypothesis, here’s what I gathered from suspicious (and/or tongue-in-cheek jokes about how Taco Bell’s wings are bad) Twitter and TikTok users: There’s a national chicken wing shortage. Taco Bell just came out with wings. The wings are kind of bad. Ergo, Taco Bell’s wings must be made of rat meat.

And again, while this is a rumor, a FALSE statement, I will spread around this misinformation until Taco Bell brings back the Mexican Pizza, or until I get a cease-and-desist. Your move, Taco Bell.