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wings_jan29.jpegBy Sun-Times business editor Polly Smith

Super Bowl foodies survived last year's purported bacon shortage. Now comes word there is a new shortage of food that sports fans hold near and dear: chicken wings. This news comes straight from the National Chicken Council in Washington, D.C. who said, via a press release:

"Chicken companies produced about one percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices," [council economist Bill] Roenigk said. "Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons: last summer's drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol. Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced."

The Council also estimates 1.23 billion (yes, billion) chicken wings will be consumed over Super Bowl weekend with the decrease in chicken wings consumed standing at about 12.3 million fewer than last year (meaning Americans will also consume an estimated 1,156,200,000 fewer calories so at least there's a bright side). As the council points out, with fewer chickens, there are fewer wings but each chicken - of course - only has two wings. Supply can only be further hurt by McDonald's Inc.'s decision to add chicken wings to the menu at 500 Chicago area restaurants to test the market. The council makes no estimate on McD's influence.

Rubbing salt (or blue cheese) in the wound? The price of wings already is up 14 percent from a year ago.

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