Thanksgiving has turkey, but Super Bowl Sunday has another, spicier fowl, a fan favorite that, for some, is a must-have when watching the game.

Orders of chicken wings flew out of the kitchen of Wings to Go in West Manchester Township as employees worked to keep up with demand on Sunday afternoon.

"We're jammed back here like sardines," said Carol Evans, owner of the 1590-C Kenneth Road location.

Wings have become the top food to have at Super Bowl parties, and the National Chicken Council projected that Americans would eat 1.25 billion of them on Sunday. That's up by 20 million wings compared to last year, the council said.

For its part, Evans estimated the restaurant served up "thousands upon thousands" of freshly-made wings on Sunday. With the Denver Broncos pitted against the Seattle Seahawks in the championship game, Evans said sales would be even higher if a local team had made it.

It adds up: Picking up his order of 40 wings, Rick Roth, of West York, said he was barely making a dent in the 1.25 billion wings expected to be consumed.

"Guys like wings, and guys like football," he said of why mass amounts of wings are consumed during football games.

Some customers of Wings to Go picked up their orders on Saturday to avoid the rush on Sunday. Most, if not all, called in their orders well in advance, some a few weeks ahead of the game.

The fact that Super Bowl Sunday has become a holiday of sorts, a time when family and friends get together, has also helped drive up sales, Evans said.

"It's become the national pastime," she said.

Though boneless wings have become increasingly popular of late, Evans said traditional wings continue to be the crowd favorite but just barely. She estimated that 60 percent of orders are for traditional wings while the remaining 40 percent are for boneless.

Tradition: This year marks a milestone of the popular food. It's the 50th anniversary of its invention in a Buffalo, N.Y., bar.

According to the Anchor Bar's website, co-owner Teressa Bellissimo prepared the first order of spicy wings late one night for her son. She served them with celery and blue cheese, and the two have been closely connected ever since.

From there the food that was once considered purely an appetizer at bars has been reproduced everywhere from locally owned eateries to fast-food restaurants.

As the clock ticked closer to game time, more and more customers showed up at Wings to Go to pick up their orders, some of which were for 100 wings apiece.

"It's kind of a tradition," said Broncos fan Chase Pentz of Dover, who was picking up an order for 60 boneless wings. "Grew up on it."

Must find wings: Jeff Wood of York City stood patiently in line waiting to place his order for wings.

But when his turn to order came, he was told the restaurant was so backed up with orders that the wings wouldn't be ready until after kickoff.

With that, Wood, a Broncos fan, was on a mission to find wings somewhere, anywhere, in time for the game.

"As long as we're sitting in the living room at start time, that's what matters the most," he said.

By the numbers, from the National Chicken Council:

81: percent of American adults said they eat chicken wings

51: percent eat wings with ranch dressing

32: percent eat wings with blue cheese dressing

10: percent said they are "purists" and don't eat anything with their wings.

65: percent of wing-eating Americans say Buffalo is their favorite flavor/style

39: percent of that prefer mild wings

36: percent prefer hot

8: percent prefer "atomic"

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.