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Lincoln man goes viral nationwide with rant about boneless chicken wings

Lincoln man goes viral nationwide with rant about boneless chicken wings

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In the span of five minutes, a trending hashtag, a societal movement and perhaps even a poultry revolution were launched.

All this from a bespectacled guy with hair down to his shoulders wearing a tie decorated with cheeseburgers.

"I didn't have a tie with chicken wings on it," said Ander Christensen, a 27-year-old chemical engineer from Lincoln who never planned on #SaucyNugs taking off the way it has.

But his impassioned plea to the Lincoln City Council to rename boneless chicken wings somehow struck a chord with the masses.

“Lincoln has the opportunity to be a social leader in this country,” Christensen said on Monday night. “We have been casually ignoring a problem that has gotten so out of control that our children are throwing around names and words without even understanding their true meaning, treating things as though they’re normal.”

In three days, his plea — satirical and mildly serious — was seen online by hundreds of thousands before airing nationally on "Good Morning America," "Fox & Friends," and being featured in The New York Times.

“Nothing about boneless chicken wings actually comes from the wing of a chicken,” he said. “We would be disgusted if a butcher was mislabeling their cuts of meats, but then we go around pretending as though the breast of a chicken is its wing?”

Renaming them, he said, is essential. Stopping the misrepresentation, a pressing matter. The options, he said, are endless.

“We can call them Buffalo-style chicken tenders,” he said. “We can call them ‘wet tenders.’ We can call them ‘saucy nugs,’ or ‘trash.’

"We can take these steps and show the country that’s where we stand and that we understand that we’ve been living a lie for far too long, and we know it, because we feel it in our bones.”

Christensen, the son of Lincoln City Councilman Roy Christensen, said he had been pondering this issue for months before being convinced by his wife, Alyssa, to do something about it.

"You get five minutes to air your grievances, where you can talk about things that really matter to you," he told the Journal Star on Thursday. "This really matters to me."

In a summer that has been hindered by a pandemic as well as racial strife — and calls for defunding the police, sparked by the May killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — Christensen said his boneless wing issue was the chance to lighten the mood.

"Everyone needs to take a breath," said Christensen, who develops tools for fighting cancer. "The problems we have are so big. We need one small win. There are a lot of things out there that are too big to be solved in this generation.

"You can solve this problem easily."

This issue captured the attention of Omaha Steaks, which officially claimed itself to be on the side of #SaucyNugs. 

"We don't take political sides, but this issue is too important," the company tweeted. "Our butchers stand with Ander."

Even Buffalo Wild Wings, which on Wednesday playfully put out a wanted poster for Christensen, has gotten on board. Its two Lincoln restaurants will donate $1 to the Lincoln Boys and Girls Club for every boneless chicken wing ordered on Labor Day, while giving Christensen free bone-in chicken wings for a year.

"I think they were scared I was starting a revolution," he said, joking that he is considering a run for president in 2028 — when he becomes of age to do so — under the #SaucyNugs ticket.

Such is the fickle nature of social media. 

Prior to Monday night, Christensen had three followers on his Twitter account and had tweeted no more than a couple of times in the past few years.

As of Thursday night, his Twitter handle has nearly 4,000 followers. 

"I have no idea how it took off the way it did," he said.

Not bad for a three-tweet account.


Photos: National landmarks of Nebraska

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