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Wyoming Food Banks Struggle With Supply Chain Issues

in News/Food

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Food pantries across Wyoming are struggling to meet an increased demand for assistance due to the pandemic because of supply chain issues seen around the nation.

“Because of the rise of the cost of fresh produce and protein – the same things that impact anyone who goes to any grocery store to purchase their personal groceries – we see that on our level, “ said Victoria Ziton, community relations for Food Bank of Wyoming.

Food pantries like Food Bank of Wyoming rely on donations to give a hand-up to families who have hit hard times. But disruptions such as labor shortages and transportation issues have resulted in a reduction of available food and other supplies.

“We most recently had two entire semis delayed because of the weather between Cheyenne and here,” Ziton said, “and those trucks couldn’t get through because they’re not used to driving in Wyoming weather.” 

It’s not just transportation issues that are causing problems, she added.

“We are noticing that a lot of the donated products that were coming our way are not coming our way this year,” she said. “So that has made it necessary for us to purchase items that we would normally have received as a donation, and those items are costing us even more than they would have in past years.”

With the holidays approaching, some food items that used to be purchased in bulk aren’t available anymore. 

Taylor Albert, executive director for Cheyenne’s Needs, Inc., said that turkeys in particular are hard to come by this year.

“The turkey prices are still pretty reasonable for what we’re used to seeing,” she said. “However, we are not able to buy in bulk from stores like we used to, so we are having to purchase in stores like individuals would, and then we are being subjugated to the limits that the stores are opposing on individuals.” 

Albert explained that they are working with volunteers to purchase turkeys from grocery stores one by one, since many stores limit purchases to one bird per visit.

“Wing Shack (restaurant) in our area is doing a turkey drive for us to help meet that need, as well as Ken Garff Automotive Sales,” she said. “They are doing a turkey drive on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week to help us meet that need.”

But food isn’t the only casualty of a broken supply chain. For Needs, Inc., necessary equipment has also been delayed.

“We have a refrigerator ordered,” Albert said, explaining that they needed more space to hold food because of the jump in numbers of people requesting assistance. “And the fridge we’re waiting on is about eight weeks out – and we ordered it about eight weeks ago.”

Ziton said Food Bank of Wyoming is also seeing an increase in the number of people needing assistance, especially in the more rural parts of the state.

“We’re actually seeing a number of our mobile pantries that are doubling in the number of recipients that are coming in requesting,” she said.

“Before the pandemic we were at about 31 households,” Albert said. “Currently we average 94 households a day.”

But Albert praised the community of Cheyenne, which she said has been very supportive of the food bank’s efforts.

“Our community has been outstanding, and they have helped us through every step of this,” she said. “We raised $148,000 this past year for our new cooler and pantry so that we could sustain that new level of demand that we are seeing. And so that’s a big piece of this puzzle for us to keep feeding our community.”

“I would encourage everyone to reach out to any local hunger relief partner in their community and make certain that they have what they need going into the holidays,” Ziton usaidd. “And on the other side of the holidays, as well. People often forget that hunger persists into January, and volunteers are worth their weight in gold to these hunger relief partners.”

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Cheyenne, Laramie Brewing Company Hailed For Having Best Bar Food In Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A brewery with locations in Cheyenne and Laramie has been hailed for having the best bar food in Wyoming, according to a media company that focuses on food.

“Eat This, Not That” recently published its ranking of the best bar food in every state. Accomplice Beer Company has taken the top spot for Wyoming, winning praise for its great craft beer and variety of upscale bar food, but one item in particular was the focal point of the report.

“The Accomplice Brewery, which has two locations in Wyoming, is not only known for its refreshing craft beer but also for its tasty bar food menu, which features choices such as pretzels with beer cheese, crispy kettle chips, and chicken strips,” the report said. “However, one of the most talked-about dishes deviates away from typical bar food—perhaps surprisingly, it is a kale salad.”

“This flavorful salad is made using kale pulled from the stalk, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, feta cheese and Champagne vinaigrette,” the publication added.

Other bar food ranked among the best in the nation included food served at Denver’s My Brother’s Bar (the oldest bar in the city), Omaha, Nebraska’s, Dinker’s Bar and Grill and Rapid City, South Dakota’s, Independent Ale House. The dishes ranged from mini-corn dogs, pizza and burgers.

All of these locations were chosen for their elevated and sometimes untraditional bar food.

Earlier this year, a Jackson bakery was chosen by Food and Wine magazine for having the best sandwich in Wyoming.

“Persephone Bakery has slowly expanded its footprint in one of the country’s best ski towns, and like any proper French-influenced bakery, they do a great baguette, here best experienced slathered in butter and mustard, and stuffed with ham and gruyere,” the magazine said, referring to the bakery’s ham and cheese sandwich.

But there are three other sandwiches on the bakery’s menu that come on a baguette: the truffled prosciutto, the schnitzelwich and the chicken hoagie.

“We’re easy, fine, but we’d buy that baguette, take it home, load it up with the good butter, and pronounce it the best sandwich ever. Until the next one, anyway,” the magazine said.

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National Chicken Wing Shortage Hits Wyoming: Josh Allen’s Favorite Spot Now Selling Thighs

in News/Food
Double Dubs Buffalo wings

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A national chicken wing shortage is forcing one of Buffalo Bills Quarterback Josh Allen’s favorite wing joints to switch to thighs. At least temporarily.

Weitzel’s Wings — also called “Double Dubs” — announced this week that it would have to sell chicken thighs for the rest of the week because the company has been unable to obtain sufficient supplies of affordable wings.

But owner Trent Weitzel, who will have trucks in Laramie, Cheyenne and Rawlins this weekend, said he is not too worried about the reaction of his customers.

“People have told me before that I could put my sauce on anything and they would eat it, so the response has been pretty good since I made the post (Wednesday) night,” Weitzel told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

He said that the wing shortage has been an issue since the beginning of the year, with prices of wings slowly ticking upward. As a result, he has had to raise the price of his own wings.

However, with the price of wings being up around 90%, Weitzel had to decide whether to increase the price to at least $2 per wing or sell thighs in the meantime. He chose the latter, because he couldn’t justify the higher price, although he knows his wings are worth it, an assessment shared by Allen, who was a regular at “Double Dubs” while attending the University of Wyoming.

As a matter of fact, it was Allen who in 2019 helped Weitzel garner a spot in the Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, New York, where Weitzel claimed the title for best traditional medium sauce, along with three other awards.

According to a Wall Street Journal article published earlier this month, chicken suppliers across the nation are struggling to find enough workers, resulting in the wing shortage.

Weitzel said all three of his suppliers reported problems finding workers, as some people are making more money with unemployment insurance from both the state and federal governments than they can by working.

“So now, I’m only allocated 50 boxes of wings per week, and normally, I’ll go through 100 in a week,” Weitzel said.

While the situation is frustrating, Weitzel does not see this being a permanent issue. Many states are now doing away with COVID-related unemployment benefits (Wyoming included), so people will soon going back to work.

In the meantime, it is possible that a customer might get a Weitzel thigh instead of a wing over the next few weeks. The food truck owner wasn’t sure whether he would continue offering thighs on the on the menu and said it would depend on customer response.

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On the Hook, A Wyoming Original

in News/Food

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By Jonathan Lange, Cowboy State Daily

A familiar blue truck has been spotted across Wyoming. The “On the Hook Fish and Chips” truck randomly appears in parking lots across the state with a line of loyal customers ready at the window. Its menu is sparse: fish and chips—or, if you prefer, chips and fish. But the helpings are heaping, and the fish is first rate.

Landlocked Wyoming doesn’t have a navy. It’s over 700 miles to the nearest sea. So, how is it that blue trucks selling baskets of ocean cod can be seen from Kemmerer to Cody and Lusk to Lander? The story of On the Hook Fish and Chips is a fish tale worth hearing.

Meet Ocean Andrew, son of a deep-sea fisherman. This sophomore at the University of Wyoming had the ambition to live-out a dream, and he didn’t wait until graduation day. Buying an old FedEx truck, he had it rebuilt into a food truck and brought it to Laramie five years ago last Sunday.

For the next month he and his business partner, Hunter Andersen, obtained all the proper inspections and licenses while they tried out a bevy of recipes. The backbone of the business was Andrew’s ability to purchase all the fresh frozen Alaskan cod that he could handle.

His father’s business is not just any deep-sea fishing vessel. They catch cod with hooks, not nets—hence the name. Once the fish is hauled aboard, it is cleaned, cut and flash frozen more quickly than the freshest mountain trout. Not only do hooks avoid the waste of scooping up unwanted sea-creatures. They also make for a fresher and tastier haul.

When the school year ended, they opened for business on a Tuesday night in downtown Laramie. “It was a disaster,” Andrew said. “Thirty people were gathered around the truck and we were furiously trying to fill orders. We had no idea how difficult it would be to juggle five different menu items.” Soon they cut it down to only one.

Do one thing; and do it well. That motto quickly grew a business that funded schooling for numerous University students working nights and weekends. Within a year, they began building a second truck. Now, five years later, the fleet is 16 trucks strong. They serve hundreds of thousands in 11 states across the west.

Who knew that a simple idea could become so immediately popular? And who knew that it would require a full-time employee just to keep up with the hundreds of town business licenses, health permits, and fire inspections.

Then came COVID. Statewide public health orders that were continued fortnight after fortnight were especially stifling for the food industry. Restaurants were closed and then severely restricted. Buffets were indefinitely shuttered. Thousands of mom-and-pop diners saw their patrons funneled to the drive-through windows of multinational fast-food corporations.

Because curbside pickup was already part of On the Hook’s business model, they stayed afloat. But the injustice toward other small businesses did not go unnoticed. Within a month of the first shut-down orders, Andrew partnered with Susan Graham to organize a “Rally for the Choice to Work” in Cheyenne.

“One thing I really hate about government is the tendency to protect large corporations with regulation that hurts small businesses,” he said.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos added $13 billion to his net worth during a single day of the lock down. During 12 months of COVID crisis, he added 156 percent ($155.3 billion) to his wealth. That same time span saw nearly 30 percent of small businesses closed.

That Andrew would take time off from running his business to advocate for other businesses less fortunate than his speaks volumes about his character. Community leaders asked him to run for Laramie’s open house seat. A political career had not been on his radar, but he answered the call of duty and was handily elected to House District 46 last November.

Eight years ago, a young man came to the University of Wyoming to seek the Wyoming way of life. His vision and initiative created a uniquely Wyoming business that employs dozens, and has helped many of them fund an education at the University of Wyoming. Along the way he married a school teacher, and started a family in the shadow of the Snowy Range.

When you see a blue fish truck appear in your town, think about Ocean Andrew. He and his company epitomize the Wyoming way of life. Freedom is more than the ability to do whatever you want. It is about raising a family, serving people, and giving back to the community. It’s the sort of life that makes Wyoming’s future bright.

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Vegan Scientists Claim They Can Make Hamburgers Out Of Microbes From Yellowstone National Park

in News/Food

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Good news. If you are one of those tourists who thought your trip to Yellowstone was perfect except that you would have preferred to eat Old Faithful, then you’re in luck.

A Chicago-based company which makes vegan products has been working with volcanic microbes found in Yellowstone National Park to make meat-like substances such as hot dogs and hamburgers.

The company, Nature’s Fynd, told VegNews last week that its founder identified a microbe can survive extreme conditions —like Old Faithful — and then you can feed the microbes glycerin and starches while fermenting them.

That process, they say, creates something called “Fy” which is an “animal-free protein that contains all nine amino acids and is high in fiber and vitamins.”

So in other words, you can get a steak or a pork chop and maybe even a double cheeseburger without any land, soil, or animal slaughter. It’s like magic.

“There is a revolution going on in protein product and in the future I don’t think if people care if the cells are from cows or microbes,” Thomas Jones, the CEO of the company, told VegNews.

A video produced by the company claims the Yellowstone microbes can produce “really delicious all-purpose foods that are perfect for feeding anyone, anywhere, anytime without the need for sun, rain, or soil.” 

“Perfect for all 8 billion of us,” the narrator said. “Which means together we can give the earth a breather and let it rest.”

So how did all of this happen in the first place?

Karuna Rawal, CMO for Nature’s Fynd, tells Cowboy State Daily that back in 2009, Chief Science Officer and co-founder of the company, Mark Kozubal, was a Ph.D. student researching extremophiles at Yellowstone National Park under a research permit, support by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

“He collected samples from an acidic hot spring without causing any negative impact on the area,” Rawal said. “In fact, we never have to go back to Yellowstone for another sample because we ferment the microbe called Fusarium Strain Flavolapis to create Fy, our nutritional fungi protein.”

So, if you think there will be conveyor belts attached to Old Faithful with a non-stop supply of microbial hamburgers coming out, think again.

“I’m happy to say that there will be no conveyor belts near Yellowstone. We never have to go back to Yellowstone and we produce our complete, fungi-based protein in Chicago,”  Rawal said.

So far beef producers from Wyoming don’t appear to be concerned with any new competition. As of this publishing deadline, we haven’t seen any press releases expressing concern over volcanic hot dogs.

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Man Loses Pants in Brawl as Chaos Erupts at Grand Opening of In-N-Out in Colorado

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Well, at least nobody got killed like the incident at the Popeye’s restaurant in Maryland two years ago.

But a fight broke out leading to a person losing his pants (of course).

It was all a part of the grand opening of the first In-N-Out restaurant about 100 miles south of the Wyoming border in Aurora.

People, with only partially working brain cells, go crazy after fast food and they lived up to all expectations last Friday when some waited over 14 hours to buy a hamburger.

Good news though. By the second day of business, the wait time was only eight hours.

More good news: many people apparently have that kind of time to spare.

And they are proud of waiting that long too.

In fact, one idiot patron — holding a bag of Chick-fil-A sandwiches— boasted that he had to “buy a meal to wait for a meal”.

The whole thing was a spectacle with helicopters from at least three Denver TV stations circling the hamburger chain as if O.J. Simpson was in the drive-thru with his trusty Ford Bronco.

Speaking of OJ., the police were on hand to help people navigate through the mess and chimed-in with annoying In-N-Out parlance.

“It’s official, traffic is double double animal style right now all around the mall. We are on hand helping manage the massive traffic response. Be patient and be kind. Maybe support another local eatery today and In-n-Out another day if traffic is too hectic for you,” the Aurora Police Department tweeted.

According to media reports, the drive-thru line extended for more than two miles (more than once) and the restaurant was predicting they would sell 60,000 hamburgers over the weekend.

One person waited in the drive-thru lane for four days so he could be guaranteed a hamburger.

Decked-out in a “Ghostbusters”-like vehicle (of course), he camped out in line “eating food he had brought, reading, learning how to use a new iPad, sleeping in the bed of his pickup and taking advantage of nearby portable toilets used by construction crews.”

By the time his wait was over, he could claim his cheeseburger, fries, and vanilla shake.

As the highly-acclaimed philosophical band Poison once sang: “You give me something to believe in.”

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Wyoming Thanksgiving History: Wyoming Couldn’t Harvest Turkeys Until the 1950s

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Thanksgiving is arguably the best and most underrated holiday, largely because it’s completely centered around eating (and maybe your family too, sure).

To prepare for Thanksgiving this Thursday, we thought we would provide a few little-known facts about turkeys in Wyoming.

Hunters couldn’t legally harvest wild turkeys in the state until 1955.

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the weird history with turkeys started in 1935, when the department swapped some sage grouse with New Mexico for a handful of Merriam turkeys, nine hens and six toms.

The turkeys were released on a ranch in Platte County in the spring of 1935 and reportedly lured some of the ranch’s domestic turkeys to join them on a trek into the Laramie Mountains.

The turkeys began to breed while still under the watch of ranchers and the Game and Fish department, with their numbers growing to more than 1,000 by 1947.

By the early 1950s, the turkeys were reintroduced into the Black Hills, again reproducing, which then led to the legalization of turkey hunting in 1955.

Wyoming now has a spring and fall season for turkey hunting. Fall turkey hunters are encouraged to wear orange or pink for safety reasons, but it should be noted that turkeys can spot these colors.

Newcastle area wildlife biologist and wild turkey researcher Joe Sandrini suggested hunters work on stealthy pursuit at middle to lower elevations as the season moves from fall to early winter.  

“When flocks are startled and busted up, the birds can often be called back as they seek to reunite. Doing this from a concealed location is an effective fall hunting technique that is used in many parts of the country,” he said. 

Compared to domestic turkeys, wild turkeys have less fat and consequently tend to be a little drier. A “cooking bag” can help the fowl retain its natural moisture.

When cooking, understand wild turkeys won’t stay on their backs like domestic birds, and may need to be propped up.

Thanksgiving guests will detect the longer legs and a proportionally smaller, more angular breast and a fuller flavor many people enjoy over the farmed bird. The taste is primarily the result of the bird’s diet, a buffet of goodies found in forests.

As spring approaches, the birds start inching up in elevation and flocks of adult males start disbanding. Around March, gobblers start establishing areas or “strutting grounds” along the edge of creek bottoms or forests.

Hens nest in the strutting ground vicinity and close to reliable water. The females lay about two eggs every three days until a clutch of 10 to 13 is produced. After about 28 days of incubation, with no help from the gobblers, the chicks meet the world.

Within a week the chicks start flying and roost in trees thereafter. Hens and their brood, often joined by like combos, stay together until the next breeding season.

Last fall, 1,791 hunters put 1,193 Wyoming turkeys on tables.

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‘In-N-Out’ Gets Closer to Wyoming But Cowboy State Daily Is Not Impressed

in Jimmy Orr/News/Column/Food

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2020 has been an awful year by any standard. 

The coronavirus, the Charlie Brown Halloween special being removed from broadcast TV, and the Chiefs winning a Super Bowl have made it one of the worst years in recorded history.

If there is a bright light on the horizon, it’s that vaccines for the virus look promising and — for some — the In-N-Out hamburger chain is getting closer to Wyoming.

Three locations in northern Colorado are scheduled to open by the end of the week.

“Our construction work continues to move forward for our locations in Colorado Springs, Aurora and Lone Tree,” Denny Warnick, In-N-Out Burger Vice President of Operations, said to Denver’s 9 News. “We are still on track to open our first three Colorado restaurants by the end of the year, and of course our distribution center will need to be operational by that time to support these locations.”

That doesn’t do much good if you live in Wamsutter, Lysite, or Recluse. But if you’re in Cheyenne or Laramie, you’re only a couple hours away to grab what many believe to be the best burger ever made.

At Cowboy State Daily, while we appreciate In-N-Out, our hearts go to other chains.

Bill Sniffin, a self-described connoisseur of fast food, has two favorites.

“As I travel around the country, we tend to sample various fast food joints.  In Texas, we like the local Whataburger chain. But when it comes to a national chain, the Five Guys Burger joints served up a delicious hamburger with a sack full of French fries.  Good service and tasty food. Our favorite,” Sniffin said.

Sniffin said he is not a fan of In-N-Out Burger.

“Their products remind me of the earliest days of McDonald’s and Henry’s Hamburgers 50 years ago,” he said. “Very simple and not very tasty. I will never understand the long lines I see at various In-N-Out Burger joints across the country.”

Ellen Fike, like Sniffin, gives the nod to Five Guys.

“I’ve only had In-N-Out once and I will admit, it was cold by the time we got back to the hotel,” Fike said.

“While Five Guys does have one of the best burger chains around, the secret to their burgers is to never eat them in the restaurant,” she said. 

“I find that when you order one and take it home (or have it delivered), the burger has time to melt the cheese (which is, in fact, the best cheese out there) and let all of the flavors meld together for a tasting experience like no other! However, their fries could win an award for ‘most disappointing’ or ‘most soggy’” she said.

Jim Angell, who ate every food item at Cheyenne Frontier Days last year, couldn’t narrow his favorite down to just one either. Arctic Circle and A&W are tops on his list.

“Arctic Circle — This chain has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid and there was a franchise I passed by every day on the way home from school,” Angell said.

“Well, to be completely honest, I didn’t always pass. Often I stopped for second lunch. The burgers are always seasoned well, the veggies are fresh and the fry sauce is to die for! And best of all, the fries are large and always perfectly cooked — not underdone, not burnt to a crisp. And generally, somebody is pretty liberal with the salt shaker. Always makes my heart pump a little faster. Really,” he said.

“A&W — Another childhood favorite, Angell said. “Before it closed in my hometown, A&W was THE place for a quick meal. The hamburgers are always fresh and well seasoned and the preparers are always generous with the condiments.” 

“I have a soft spot for the cheese curds as well, a relatively new addition to the classic restaurant’s menu. And let’s not forget the root beer. For many of us, this was our first exposure to the soda equivalent of ambrosia and it was a memory that stuck. Nothing beat someone bringing a jug of A&W root beer home on a hot summer night. Certain outlets even had a winter treat made of warmed up root beer with whipped cream and cinnamon on top. Quite good!” he said.

Jimmy Orr, who was suspended from McDonald’s during his high school days for making a giant phallic symbol out of hamburger meat (roughly 30 patties) to try to make his colleagues laugh, said Fatburger was his all-time favorite.

“Any hamburger chain that is bold enough to use the word ‘fat’ in its name is telling you something,” Orr said.  “They are focused on taste and taste only. They don’t care about anything else.”

“You bite into the hamburger and it oozes all over you,” he said. “The best way to eat a Fatburger is to put a garbage bag over your head. Well, actually, make a hole in the garbage bag and then have it drape over you.”

“The burger is so juicy and so large — and somehow so explosive — that it will ooze all over you by the time you’re done,” he said. “It just oozes.”

As a result of eating too many Fatburgers, Orr and a colleague launched competitive diets and is chronicled in the Two Guys Lose Weight blog at the LA Times.

In one blog post, Orr mentioned his favorite meal at Fatburger to his former trainer and what kind of workout was needed to counteract that 2,620 calorie meal. His trainer advised running a marathon.

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Boneless Chicken Wing Protestor ‘Excited’ Relabeling Could Actually Happen

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By now, we’ve all seen the emotional plea by the Lincoln, Nebraska, man urging the local city council to forbid restaurants from calling boneless chicken wings “boneless chicken wings.”

It’s a hilarious video. From his deadpan delivery to his clever use of puns, it’s no shock the footage has gone viral and has been covered by networks and the largest media organizations in the world.

But it’s all a joke, right?

Yes and no.

Although his speech was funny, there’s some truth behind it.

The New York Times caught up with Ander Christensen who told them that the mislabeling has long been a pet peeve.

“I would love nothing more than to have boneless chicken wings removed from menus,” he told the Times. “Don’t call it something it’s not.”

The video of his appeal has been viewed more than 3 million times and that has led his father (who is on the city council) to, well, pass the buck.

“Frankly, this is an issue that’s too large for a stage like the Lincoln, Nebraska, City Council,” the elder Christensen said. “This is probably something that would have to be addressed by the Department of Agriculture, since they take care of all the labeling. It’s gotten over 3 million hits, we may as well take this to the national level.”

Credit the New York Times for trying to get a comment from the USDA, although the agency didn’t have any.

In the meantime, Christensen (the younger), is stoked with the attention.

“I walked into that room thinking this is going to be something fun that dies at the end of the day,” he said. “Now I actually think something could happen, and I’m excited.”

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Lincoln, Nebraska Citizen Calls on City To Rename “Boneless Chicken Wings”

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We’re not saying Wyoming city council meetings are boring — especially with the drama up in Gillette and over in Laramie.

We are saying that the city council meetings are much more entertaining to the east of us.

A Lincoln, Nebraska, man approached the Lincoln City Council dais on Monday with a plea to “be a social leader in this country” by no longer calling boneless chicken wings “boneless chicken wings.”

Although laughter erupted in the chamber, he assured attendees that his was a serious proposal that deserved attention.

“I go into nice family restaurants and see people throwing this name around and pretending as though everything is fine,” Ander Christensen said. “I am talking about boneless chicken wings.”

Christensen, whose father happens to serve on the city council, said the city should remove the name boneless wings from “our menus and from our hearts.”

In his emotional plea, Christensen listed three reasons for the change including the inaccuracy of the term: he claims boneless wings actually come from a chicken breast.

He also said chicken wings are just chicken tenders — which are already boneless.

“I don’t go around and order boneless tacos. I don’t go and order boneless club sandwiches. I don’t ask for boneless auto repair. It is just what is expected,” he said.

For his third argument, he said the general public needs to do a better job in raising informed children.

“Our children are raised being afraid of having bones attached to their meat.  That’s where meat comes from — it grows on bones,” he said.

“We need to teach them that the wing of a chicken is from a chicken and it is delicious.”

As for what to call them, he had a number of suggestions, including: “Buffalo Style Chicken Tenders”, “Saucy Nuggs”, “Wet Tenders”, or simply “Trash”.

But perhaps his concluding statement was the most powerful (and poetic).

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

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“Restaurant: Impossible” To Tackle Hawk Springs Eatery In September

in News/Good news/Food

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Hawk Springs, population 45, is going to see a major influx of people in town over the next few weeks.

The reality television series “Restaurant: Impossible” will be filming at The Emporium, one of the two eateries in the town outside of Torrington, in September.

In the show, Chef Robert Irvine renovates and revamps failing restaurants in two days with a budget of $10,000. It’s comparable to the reality series “Kitchen Nightmares,” hosted by chef Gordon Ramsay.

Usually, Irvine and his team buy new decor for the restaurant, redesign and slim down the menu and improve the quality of the dishes.

The Emporium describes itself as having a “rustic atmosphere that contains historic and unique decor.” Its menu features western staples such as Rocky Mountain Oysters, chicken fried steak, hamburgers and flat iron steak in addition to higher-end offerings such as osso bucco and ribeye.

We included some photos to show you how busy this place gets (packed) and perhaps to show the “before” as in the upcoming “before and after” photo when the makeover is completed.

The restaurant already looks awesome now so it will be fun to see what happens..

According to 106.3 Cowboy Country, “Restaurant: Impossible” will film at the restaurant “sometime” in mid-September, with the grand reopening planned for 7 p.m. on Sept. 20.

Guests are invited to attend the grand opening and can sign up by emailing the production team at The deadline is 1 p.m. on Sept. 11, and interested guests should use the subject line “1706 WY RESERVATIONS.”

In the reservation email, provide your full name, email address, cell number, the size of your party and the names of those in your party. Reservations are first-come, first-serve.

Guests are responsible for paying for their own meal. If selected, a reservation confirmation will be sent at a time close to the dinner date.

No guests under the age of eight will be allowed. Guests will be required to wear masks at all times, until service begins and food arrives.

The grand reopening will follow coronavirus safety guidelines to ensure the safety of the guests, restaurant staff and production crew. Social distancing guidelines will be followed on set.

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Wyoming Hunger Initiative Ropes Local Cattle Producers For New Program

in News/Food/Agriculture

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Hunger Initiative (WHI), headed by First Lady Jennie Gordon, is launching a new program in conjunction with various state entities aimed at getting Wyoming-produced goods to the tables of families in need of food.

“Food from the Farm + Ranch” is a collaboration between WHI, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Custom Meats, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies. The collaboration is intended to use Wyoming products to care for Wyoming citizens.

Three beef cattle have been donated by Wyoming producers to be processed at Wyoming Custom Meats, which is located in Hudson. The meat will be donated to Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies to be distributed throughout the state as a vital source of protein.

Employees from the Wyoming Department of Ag donated the processing fees for two of the cattle. WSGA members donated the processing fees for the third. Additional processing dates have been scheduled for later in May to accommodate donations from other local producers.

“Being a producer myself, my initial vision for the Wyoming Hunger Initiative was to encompass a component of agriculture that would be part of the solution to food insecurity in our state,” Gordon said in a news release. “I am beyond excited about the immediate partnership between so many entities working together to ensure longevity of the program.”

The end goal of the program is to reach a point beyond the coronavirus pandemic where families and pantries across the state can purchase meat from local producers instead of seeking an out-of-state supplier.

While farmers and ranchers are supporting the food bank during this time through the donation of livestock and processing fees, the hope is that residents will support Wyoming producers now and in the future.

Wyoming currently has two United States Department of Agriculture-approved beef processors.

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First Lady Continues Support for Local Food Banks, Pantries

in News/Coronavirus/Food
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming First Lady Jennie Gordon isn’t happy with the fact 23,000 children in the state struggle with food insecurity, and that was the total before the coronavirus pandemic.

But ever since her husband, Gov. Mark Gordon, won his campaign, she has pushed to put an end to food insecurity in the state through the Wyoming Hunger Initiative (WHI). It’s tough work, but she has a dedicated team behind her, which has made her work much easier.

Surprisingly, the work has been fairly smooth since the pandemic began, Gordon said during Town Square Media’s “Economy Town Hall” on Friday morning. But it’s definitely going to be an uphill battle in the coming weeks and months.

“In a time like this, we’re all hands on deck,” the First Lady said. “People are very passionate about helping folks and feeding people, so it’s not a lift for me at all.”

She touched on the task force that the WHI established on March 17, which was created to provide support, streamline communications and implement creative solutions to hunger issues caused by coronavirus closures statewide.

Currently, the WHI website includes a page that breaks down local resources in all of Wyoming’s 23 counties. This covers information such as what food banks and pantries are available, what stores are offering special hours for people who are at a high risk for catching the virus and even details about when and what schools will provide food for the day or week. Anyone who doesn’t have internet access can call 211 and find similar information.

Gordon recommended that if people are looking to volunteer or donate items, they should contact their local food banks or pantries to find out what is needed.

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Grocery stores announce special hours for vulnerable adults, limit daily hours

in News/Coronavirus/Food/Wyoming/Business
Apple City Festival

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases climbing every day, grocery stores across the country have recognized a specific need among customers. 

Certain groups, such as the elderly, people who have underlying health conditions and pregnant women, are the most susceptible to the coronavirus. With the addition of people panic buying unnecessary extra supplies, those vulnerable adults are often risking their health to shop in grocery stores with empty aisles. 

But more and more grocery stores across the country and in Wyoming have pledged to create special hours for these high-risk individuals, allowing them to come into stores for a certain amount of time and shop at a time they can avoid large groups of people. 

Walmart announced an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday until April 28. Customers 60 and older will have the opportunity to begin shopping one hour before the store opens for the general public. The pharmacy and vision center will be open at this time, as well.

Albertsons and Safeway will reserve two hours every Tuesday and Thursday morning, 7 to 9 a.m., for vulnerable shoppers, including seniors, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems. 

Dollar General will designate the first hour at all of its stores as open daily to senior shoppers. 

Big Lots will reserve the first hour of each day for seniors and those most at-risk concerning the virus.

Many of these chains, such as Walmart and Albertsons, are also limiting their daily hours to help combat the spread of the virus.

Meatless Options Having Little Impact on Wyoming Beef Producers

in News/Food/Agriculture

By Tim Mandese
Cowboy State Daily

Despite a growing trend toward meatless meal options, Wyoming’s beef producers are not seeing much of a decline in the demand for their product.

Plant-based meat substitutes are popping up in supermarkets and restaurants across the country. Burger King sells its Impossible Whopper, Qdoba has an Impossible fajita and burrito. Even Dunkin’ Donuts is selling a plant-based patty as a sausage substitute on its breakfast menu.

Although plant-based meat substitutes are more available than ever, their presence in the market has not dampened the demand for Wyoming beef, said Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

“I think it’s gotten a huge amount of media attention because it’s something new,” Magagna said. “The media attention far exceeds what it’s gotten in the meat case and grocery stores or food establishments. At this point in time, the percentage of the market they’ve taken is so very small that we certainly haven’t felt an economic impact, but that could come if this continues to grow.”

WSGA figures show plant-based foods make up a little more than 1 percent of the beef market.

“The hype would lead you to believe it’s taking over the country and I dont see any evidence of that,” Magagna said.

The majority of current media attention is centered around meatless products from a company called Impossible Foods, founded in 2011 by Dr. Patrick O. Brown.

Impossible Foods did not respond to an emailed request for an interview. However, the company’s website said its mission is to end the use of animals to make food. The company’s goal is to make convincing meat, dairy, and fish from plants-based sources.

In 2016, Impossible Foods launched its first product, the Impossible Burger, a substitute meat patty. Today, it’s served in 15,000 restaurants world wide.

According to the company’s website, the patty used in Burger King’s Impossible Whopper is made of the following ingredients:

•Soy-protein concentrate
•Coconut oil

•Sunflower oil

•Natural flavors.

Impossible “meat” also contains 2% or less of:
•Potato protein
•Yeast extract

•Cultured dextrose
•Food starch, modified

•Soy leghemoglobin (Heme)
•Soy-protein isolate
•Mixed tocopherols (vitamin E)
•Zinc gluconate
•Thiamine hydrochloride (Vitamin B1)
•Sodium ascorbate (vitamin C)
•Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6)
•Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

•Vitamin B12.

According to, its patty is made mostly of soy protein derived from soybeans.

Another soy ingredient, and the one said to be responsible for the meat-like taste, is soy leghemoglobin.

“Soy leghemoglobin is short for legume hemoglobin — the hemoglobin found in soy, a leguminous plant” said the website. “Leghemoglobin is a protein found in plants that carries heme, an iron-containing molecule that is essential for life. Heme is found in every living being — both plants and animals.”

Given the list of ingredients found in the meatless patties, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association is working with legislators to set labeling standards for plant-based products.

“Our big concern and our focus the last couple of years is on how these products are advertised,” Magagna said. “If they are advertised for what they are and it’s fair competition, it’s a free marketplace, as long as it doesn’t lead people to think they are eating real meat when they are eating plant-based products.

“We’ve worked on and are still working on legislation at the national level and we passed a bill here in Wyoming last year in our legislative session, that identifies how those products have to be labeled,” he added.

The introduction of a meat alternative has helped the beef industry better understand what it must do to compete in changing markets, Magagna said.

“There’s plenty of evidence out there that red meat is an important part and a healthy part of a balanced diet,” Magagna said “If it’s done anything, in one way it’s helped us, because it’s inspired us to better recognize the need to market our product and to focus on marketing the healthy attributes of our product”

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