Business

I went to the NYC restaurant that makes wings for ‘Hot Ones’ and now I know why celebrity guests are always complimenting them

A chicken wing from Shorty's, the "Hot Ones" restaurant, getting hit with "The Last Dab" hot sauce.
“This is the last dab. We call it the last dab because we put a little extra on the last wing.”

  • For six years, “Hot Ones” has been hurting celebrities with hot questions and even hotter wings.
  • Much of the time, those hot chicken wings come from the same midtown Manhattan restaurant: Shorty’s.
  • Insider visited Shorty’s this week to find out what goes into a “Hot Ones” wing.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Like so many of my fellow Millennials, I’m a big fan of First We Feast’s hit YouTube talk show, “Hot Ones.”

"Hot Ones" host Sean Evans and singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo appear on a recent episode of the hit YouTube talk show.
“It’s the show with hot questions and even hotter wings,” host Sean Evans says at the start of each episode.

If you’re not already familiar, it’s a typical talk show format with a twist: Instead of a standard interview, it’s an interview conducted while eating through a gauntlet of 10 increasingly hot chicken wings.

Actor David Harbour appears on the YouTube talk show "Hot Ones."
David Harbour, of “Stranger Things” fame, was on the most recent season of “Hot Ones.”

The show is primarily filmed in a studio in Manhattan, and its wings usually come from a little shop in Manhattan named “Shorty’s.”

Shorty's is a restaurant with three locations in Manhattan. The 9th Avenue location is pictured here, which supplies chicken wings for "Hot Ones."
This Shorty’s location is one of three in Manhattan. It’s the one located closest to the studio where “Hot Ones” is filmed.

Shorty’s got a nice shoutout from Elijah Wood on the season 15 wrap-up episode. Wood called them, “Very good wings,” to which host Sean Evans replied, “Shout out Shorty’s!”

Elijah Wood appears on "Hot Ones," the YouTube talk show, in August 2021.
Sorry about the screenshot, Elijah!

I went to Shorty’s this week to find out exactly how good the wings are, but first I stopped by the iconic hot sauce shop that collaborates with “Hot Ones”: Heatonist, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Heatonist, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is the hot sauce shop that supplies hot sauces for the YouTube talk show "Hot Ones."
Heatonist is on Wythe Avenue, home to such Williamsburg staples as The Wythe Hotel.

Heatonist is a pilgrimage for hot sauce heads. The shop has collaborated with “Hot Ones” for years, and it sells several different “Hot Ones” branded sauces – including a recent iteration of the infamous “Last Dab.”

Inside Heatonist, the hot sauce shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that supplies hot sauces for the YouTube talk show "Hot Ones."
The store isn’t huge, but it’s absolutely stacked with hot sauces.

I was there for two specific sauces from the bottom and the top of spice mountain: The “Classic” hot sauce, and the “Last Dab” hot sauce, both made by “Hot Ones” and used on the show.

Two "Hot Ones" hot sauces from the Brooklyn store "Heatonist."
The store clerk at Heatonist also gave me two stickers with my purchase, including a sweet “Hot Ones” sticker.

After picking up the hot sauces, I headed through the Queens Midtown Tunnel to Shorty’s to pick up wings. Appropriately, Shorty’s sells an order of wings as 10 pieces for $14.

The inside of Shorty's, the Manhattan restaurant that supplies wings for the YouTube talk show "Hot Ones."
Due to the pandemic, Shorty’s is only doing takeout service. An employee told me that they still don’t know when they’ll reopen indoor dining to the public.

Another 25 minutes later and I was back in Brooklyn, wings still warm, ready to dig in.

A place of wings from Shorty's, the Manhattan restaurant that supplies chicken wings for "Hot Ones."
The wings came packed in two very unglamorous white takeout boxes. I also got french fries, because this is still lunch.

Critically, the wings for “Hot Ones” are ordered plain, and then tossed individually with sauce by a production assistant. The assistant, “pours hot sauce into one plastic bowl, places a wing inside, and puts another bowl on top to form a clamshell, which is then shaken vigorously,” The Verge reported in 2019. So I started by doing that!

A chicken wing being tossed in "Hot Ones" Classic wing sauce, the way that "Hot Ones" does it on the show.
This wing got tossed with the Classic hot sauce, which is surprisingly spicy given that it’s the least spicy sauce in the lineup.

As you can see, the “Hot Ones” saucing method is effective. Since Shorty’s wings are battered, then fried, there are plenty of little crags and crevices for the sauce to disappear into.

A chicken wing from Shorty's, the Manhattan restaurant that supplies wings for "Hot Ones," covered in Classic hot sauce.

The good news is that Elijah Wood is right: The wings from Shorty’s are, in fact, quite good. Since they’re battered with flour – rather than straight up fried, naked chicken wings – they’re more similar to fried chicken than standard bar wings.

Chicken wings from Shorty's, the Manhattan restaurant that supplies wings for "Hot Ones."
The chicken meat itself was juicy, and the exterior was uniformly crispy from the batter. If you were expecting standard bar buffalo wings, these are not those.

Moreover, the Classic sauce is pretty tasty unto itself. It’s a little sweet, a little garlicky, and surprisingly punchy from Fresno chilies. Definitely hotter than, say, Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco, but not overwhelmingly hot either.

A chicken wing from Shorty's, the Manhattan restaurant that supplies wings for the talk show "Hot Ones."
It’s not too spicy to, say, slather all over a wing. I would even go as far as to suggest doing that!

Of note: “Hot Ones” uses different vendors for wings, and has in the past used different vendors in New York City. Sometimes guests want fish sticks, or vegan wings, instead of chicken wings.

"Game of Thrones" star Maisie Williams on "Hot Ones," in October 2019, eating vegan wings.
Maisie Williams, of “Game of Thrones” fame, opted for vegan wings instead of chicken wings on her episode, which aired in October 2019.

There was only one thing left to do after trying the wings plain and trying them with the Classic hot sauce: The Last Dab.

A chicken wing with "The Last Dab" hot sauce, from "Hot Ones," on it.
After tossing this one and getting hot sauce on my fingers, I made sure to be careful around the eyes.

Would it destroy me, like it had so many people much more famous and attractive than me?

Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert about to eat a wing with very hot sauce from Shorty's, the Manhattan restaurant that supplies wings for "Hot Ones."

Only one way to find out!

Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert eats a chicken wing with "The Last Dab" hot sauce on it.

In a shocking twist, it wasn’t that hot! It’s definitely spicy, and I definitely sweated profusely after eating it, and my lips hurt a bit, but it wasn’t the soul-destroying experience that I expected.

A "clean wing" that once had The Last Dab hot sauce on it from "Hot Ones," the internet talk show.
The flavor of this version of The Last Dab tastes strongly of cumin and comes with an immediate wallop of spice on the front of your tongue that dissipates in about 10 minutes.

It’s easy to understand why “Hot Ones” guests are so complimentary: The wings from Shorty’s are uniformly golden and crispy with juicy meat. They’re not too small, and not too big, and they held onto a good crunch even after a 25 minute car ride. They aren’t going to change your life, but they’re some of the better wings I’ve had in over a decade eating NYC wings.

A chicken wing from Shorty's, the Manhattan restaurant that supplies wings for "Hot Ones."

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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