The Stories Behind Your Favorite Buffalo Foods
If you are a native 716er, chances are you have gotten in an argument with someone before about why Buffalo pizza and wings are the best. From deciding to salt the top of a Kummelweck roll, to rolling a sugar sponge in chocolate, the mistakes that have been made in Buffalo kitchens have evolved into some of the city's most delicious and popular specialties. Most of Buffalo's well known foods are difficult to find on a menu outside of our city. Is it that we try to keep our Buffalo culture a secret or because other state's chefs cannot replicate the recipe to perfection? The characteristics of Buffalo food that give every bite that mouth-watering effect are illusive to everyone but the creator. It seems that behind every Buffalo food is its unique creation story and like the chicken wing, most were not intentional to become so popular.
Written by Serena Leatherbarrow
What’s one of Buffalo’s signature sweets that allows for the perfect crunch, but still melts in your mouth? Well, sponge candy of course. This chocolate treat may be a foreign delicacy in other parts of the country, but here in our hometown, the popularity of this chocolate-covered and aerated toffee mix is far from a secret.
I’m sure many of us have gotten our hands on this Buffalonian delight at one point or another, but the real question is “What is sponge candy and how did this mouth-watering confection originate?” Unlike Buffalo’s chicken wings that are awarded most of the culinary glory, the story behind sponge candy’s origin in an unclear picture. The most common theory behind the beauty that is sponge candy is the belief that it was the result of a happy baking accident sometime around the 1940’s. The treat’s signature trait is its bubbly texture which comes from mixing its base of sugar and corn syrup with baking powder and a dash of vinegar. More advanced recipes call for gelatin, allowing the mixture to thicken and rise. So what to do we have to thank for this chocolate-covered crystalline candy, a science experiment I suppose.
While the origin of the signature Buffalonian treat is somewhat unknown and leaves us with many unanswered questions, what we do know for certain is how delicious it is. With this creation, I suppose we must accept the pure genius of the universe on the day in which these basic ingredients combined. Since created by a baking mishap, local candy shops now produce over 30,000 pounds of sponge candy a year. Because of the volume at which it is produced, the light and crunchy treat can be easily found at nearly any grocery store in the 716 area.
For over 70 years sponge candy has been revealing its beauty to the taste buds of tourists and young Buffalonian babies stealing their mother’s secret stash of sponge. So take this as a sign to get your hands on the staple good or send it to a friend you’re trying to lure into the 716.
Buffalo Style Pizza
Written by Mary Kate Wirfel
One of the things that you may not know about Buffalo is that we are the city that serves the best style of pizza! There are several different family owned pizza places all over the Buffalo area. Over the span of my lifetime, I have visited or ordered from several different pizza places. Each pizza has a different style crust, cheese, and even sauce but they all have one thing in common and that is the "cup 'n char" style pepperoni.
As a matter of fact, Buffalo style pizza was voted the most unique type of pizza in the country for their thick crust texture and obviously the pepperoni! Buffalo style pizza beat out the Chicago style deep dish pizza, which apparently is world famous. The cup 'n char style pepperoni began in Buffalo and is now spread throughout the United States. People prefer the cup 'n char style pepperoni because it tastes better and adds flavor to the pizza.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Buffalo's pizza is ahead of its time. It takes several ingredients from different pizzas from different cities and it is all topped off with the cup 'n chair style pepperoni.
Each town, weather north or south of Buffalo, has their own pizza place with its unique name and different style pizzas. From the first pizza place to open in Buffalo called Bocce Club Pizza, to the city's own La Nova Pizzeria and South Buffalo's Imperial Pizza, each restaurant has their own unique style.
As a resident of the southtowns, I have eaten at several different pizza places and I will share with you my top five.
At number 5 it’s Hamburg's very own Edie's Pizza
Number 4 has three different locations throughout the Buffalo area in Attica, West Seneca and Hamburg. It’s Nino's Pizza.
Number 3 we travel to my hometown of Springville. We have Julie’s Pizzeria and Restaurant.
Number 2 we have Bella Pizza. This place has more than one location in Hamburg, Boston, Buffalo and Lackawanna.
Lastly, the Number 1 pizza place on my list is Brunner’s Eatery in Boston, NY.
All those pizzas have a different taste to them, but they all share the cup 'n char pepperoni. You should come and try this pizza for yourself! You won't be disappointed! You will want to come back again.
Keeping The Beef on Weck a Secret
Written by Marissa Packard
Buffalo is full of so many unique food options that make getting takeout so easy every day of the week. However, some Buffalo staples are not talked about enough. The Beef on Weck is a unique sandwich in the Buffalo area that every out-of-towner should be introduced to once they step foot here. Unlike wings, this distinguished sandwich had yet to make it to the west coast or as a matter of fact, out of the Western New York area.
The Beef on Weck is simply a roast beef sandwich, but what makes it so iconic is the Kummelweck roll. In 1901, right when the Pan American Exposition made its way to Buffalo, Joe Gohn purchased a small saloon which he called the Delaware House and it was located at Delaware and Delevan Street. The street trolleys were loaded of people that were headed to the exposition were let off right near the saloon. To feed the hungry people that were coming and going, he figured that a roast beef sandwich topped with sinus-clearing horseradish and a nice cold beer would taste good to these travelers. The baker's name that worked in this saloon is still unknown, but is the one who created the famous Kummelweck roll that we still use to this day for Beef on Wecks.
The Kummelweck roll is just a Kaiser roll topped with pretzel salt and caraway seeds. There was a man, William Wahr, who was thought to have brought this unique staple to the Buffalo area in the 1800s. It could be that this baker, could’ve been the same man that worked in the Delaware House. The Kummelweck roll is unique to the Western New York area, it’s hard to recreate this Buffalo staple.
The Beef on Weck is sold at many of the restaurants around Buffalo, just like chicken wings, it has become a menu staple in WNY. It is difficult for bakeries in our area to ship these rolls all over the country because they only would last a day at their best. This why the Beef on Weck hasn’t made it out of the Western New York region. It is silly to imagine a California bar trying to recreate the roll that only bakeries in our area know how to do.
In reality, this sandwich is destined to remain in Western New York and enjoyed by us and other tourists that pass through. It’s almost as if the chicken wing getting out of Buffalo and to other cities copying it is karma for the Kummelweck roll never being able to leave. We’ll take it and continue to keep some things in Buffalo a secret.
Buffalo Beer-Battered Fish Fry
Written by Bria Meredith
There are plenty of dishes that are included in the cultural identity of Buffalo, NY. One of these dishes being beer-battered fish fry, which is a popular dish served in numerous restaurants, churches, and social clubs during Lent, some even year round. It is a six-week Lenten tradition for Catholics to fast and give up the meat of warm blooded animals on Fridays. Since fish are cold blooded animals, the tradition of fish fry Fridays was born.
There are many different ways this meal can be served, the most popular being a large haddock covered in a crispy beer batter with a side of tartar sauce, a lemon wedge, fries, potato salad, coleslaw, or macaroni salad. This dish became popular in Buffalo in the early 1900s when fisherman, Richie Roth, took it upon himself to fry up fish in his shed off of the Erie Canal. Until 1960, fish fry was made with blue pike found in Lake Erie. Now, haddock is used as blue pike became overfished and rare.
Many say that beer-battered fish fry tastes better than simply baking it. The beer adds an element of alcohol and carbon dioxide, making the fish extra light and crispy. Along with the carbon dioxide and alcohol, there is foam in beer which emphasizes the golden brown crust. Many say that Pabst Blue Ribbon is the best beer to use for beer battered fish fry, followed by Guinness and Harps.
You don’t have to wait until Lent to get your fish fry! Stop by most any restaurant on any given Friday night in Buffalo for a delicious beer battered fish fry.
Our Famous Buffalo Chicken Wings
Written by Conor Thompson
When the city of Buffalo, New York is brought up in conversation, a few things come to mind. Snow, Niagara Falls, and of course…….. Buffalo wings! But how did the chicken wing become known as the Buffalo wing?
It all started in 1964 at the Anchor Bar here in Buffalo. At the time, co-owner Teressa Bellissimo would put leftover wings from that night in hot sauce for her son. This soon became part of the menu but this time added with celery, blue cheese or ranch. A man by the name of Dick Winger who sold hot sauce to Anchor Bar, would eventually start traveling to spread the word of the new Buffalo wing. As the word spread about this new version of chicken wings, restaurants began to get creative by trying different sauces and breads.
Today, Buffalo wings can be found anywhere. No sports bar is complete without wings and beer!
In September, Buffalo holds it’s annual National Buffalo Wing Festival which goes on for two days and also has had it’s own Chicken Wing Day since 1977. A Philadelphia radio station held a wing eating contest in 1993 and to this day is one of the biggest competitive eating events in the country. The undisputed Nathan’s Hot Dog eating champion, Joey Chestnut currently holds the Wing Bowl eating record, gobbling down 241 wings in two 14-minute sessions. This blue collar city of neighbors has given the world many gifts, but the Buffalo wing is by far my favorite.
The Buffalo Sweet Staple: Loganberry
Written by Kelsey Rhode
Loganberry, the fruity, unexplainable drink that has been a staple of Buffalo since 1989.
This sugary, sweet treat stands alongside famous Buffalo foods like sponge candy, chicken wings, beef on weck, etc. It’s popularity stems from the fruity, sweet taste and the uniqueness that stands alone unlike normal pop or juice.
I know we are all wondering, are loganberries a real berry? Yes, loganberries exist. This berry is a mix between blackberries and raspberries. They were created in California in the late 1800’s by Judge J.H. Logan. Loganberry is named after his last name Logan, obviously.
We may claim Loganberry as our own now, but it wasn’t always a “Buffalo thing”. It originated over the border at the Crystal Beach Theme Park. The park closed, but their signature drink made its way to Ontario and Buffalo.
There are several brands that make loganberry here in Buffalo, but one hits closer to home. The founders of PJ’s Crystal Beach Loganberry, PJ and Carolyn Davis were born and raised in Tonawanda. Aunt Rosie’s brand, owned by Pepsi, is sold in local stores as well.
The popularity of this sweet drink is obvious, so much so that small businesses have put their own spin on the local taste. Businesses have created Loganberry ice cream and even wine. Loganberry is famous for being sold as a soft drink at Ted’s Hot Dogs as well. It’s a great drink to pair alongside a Sahlen’s hot dog, another Buffalo staple.
The list of foods that come to mind when thinking of Buffalo is long, but Loganberry is definitely at the top of the list for most. This Buffalo staple gives 716ers a sweet drink to call their own.