The return of Mumbo wings and the movement to memorialize Buffalo’s original “King of Wings”

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – When you think “Buffalo”, you think “chicken wings”.

But you might not know about the Queen City’s original “King of Wings”- Buffalo restauranteur John Young, who owned several restaurants in the city in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.

The late Young’s daughter, Lina Brown Young, worked at and managed some of his restaurants in Buffalo and Illinois.

“Wings became what he was specifically known for, although he sold other things,” Brown Young said.

Young’s “Wings N’ Things” opened in 1961, predating the Anchor Bar’s creation of the Buffalo-style wing.

His famous “Mumbo wings” were whole wing: battered, fried, and tossed with a sweet, tangy Mumbo sauce. Mumbo sauce is a tomato-based sauce that gets its tanginess from fruits, Brown Young added.

Now, Brown Young is bringing her father’s famous wings back- with the goal of raising money for a mural or a historical marker commemorating his contribution to the creation of the chicken wing.

She’s teaming up with Buffalo Bike Tours for the fundraiser. Buffalo Bike Tours features Mumbo wings on its “Wing Ride” tour, a nostalgic taste for some riders and a brand new experience for others.

Buffalo Bike Tours owner Marc Moscato had attempted to track down John Young’s family for a while- including calling everyone with the last name “Young” in the phone book.

“I was obsessed with the John Young story,” Moscato said. “The more I learned the more interesting he seemed- he had an afterschool program and gave back to the community in a lot of ways.”

Now that he has connected with Brown Young, they have several fundraising plans in place- including doing more Mumbo wing pop-up events, selling a T-shirt through 26 Shirts, and collecting donations via a GoFundMe account.

They’re also working on writing grants with the Michigan Street Corridor, Moscato added.

The plan is for the mural to go up at Jefferson and Carlton Street, where one of Young’s restaurants used to be.

“I can’t wait to see it happen- it will be a great source of pride for the neighborhood, and it will be a point of pride for me to take tours through the neighborhood and say “hey, this is a really important story to the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Bike Tours, a small business, has made this possible,” Moscato said.

On Wednesday, Brown Young held a Mumbo wing pop-up at the Broadway Market.

“My father’s ideas were enormous- to him, this is probably very small scale,” she laughed, “but I’m sure he’d be at least glad that I’m trying to keep it in people’s memories.”

 The next Mumbo wing pop-up will be March 31 at the Broadway Market. You can order online here.

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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