Bengals’ bandwagon stuffed with fans who enjoy eating chicken wings, wearing Burrow jerseys

Dondi Carder holds up one of their in-house designed and printed tiger themed Cincinnati shirts at Unsung Salvage Design Company on Main Street in Hamilton. Unsung Salvage has had a hard time keeping up with demand for the shirts during the Bengals' playoff run.  NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Dondi Carder holds up one of their in-house designed and printed tiger themed Cincinnati shirts at Unsung Salvage Design Company on Main Street in Hamilton. Unsung Salvage has had a hard time keeping up with demand for the shirts during the Bengals' playoff run. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Sports bars reporting near-record sales as Bengals continue playoff run

These are scary times for chickens.

As the Cincinnati Bengals, predicted to finish last in the AFC North before the season, continue their push toward a possible third Super Bowl appearance, the demand for chicken wings at local sports bars never has been higher.

And the same can be said about Bengals jerseys, T-shirts, flags, doughnuts and cookies. Paint it orange and black and it probably will sell.

The Bengals face the Kansas City Chiefs at 3 p.m. Sunday in the AFC Championship Game and the winner advances to Super Bowl LVI in two weeks at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. The Bengals are 2-0 in AFC Championship Games, but 0-2 in Super Bowls, both losses to the San Francisco 49ers.

Before this season, it had been 31 years since the Bengals made the playoffs.

“There was a lot of built up frustration,” said Jason Bruckmann, a sales associate at Koch Sporting Goods in downtown Cincinnati that carries a full line of jerseys. “People are ready to celebrate.”

When asked the most popular Bengals jersey this season, Bruckmann laughed and said: “Whoever is in stock.”

The two most demanded jerseys, quarterback Joe Burrow’s No. 9 and rookie wide receiver La’Marr Chase’s No. 1, are sold out, he said.

Luckily, sports bars are not running out of chicken wings.

When the Bengals upset the No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans in the Divisional round last week, Fricker’s had the second highest grossing day in its history, only behind a March Madness weekend during the NCAA basketball tournament, said Jim Manley, marketing manager.

Sales last weekend were 600% higher than a normal weekend, said Manley, noting there are 24 Fricker’s locations, including in Middletown, Mason and West Chester..

“It’s been terrific,” he said of food and beverage sales during Bengals games.

Some of the Fricker’s locations closer to the Cleveland Browns market are packed with Browns Backers, he said. They are there cheering for the Bengals to lose, he said.

“If they want chocolate or vanilla, we don’t care,” he said. “We just like to sell it.”

Nicole Cox, director of marketing and public relations for Roosters, another popular chicken wing restaurant chain, called the Bengals’ long playoff run “a dream come true” and the “highlight of the year,” especially after restaurants were negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Clark’s Sporting Goods in Hamilton doesn’t carry Bengals items, but that may change if the team advances to the Super Bowl, said manager David Maffey. He said the store has received “a ton of calls” about Bengals jerseys so other retailers must be sold out.

Vera Slamka, owner of Central Pastry in Middletown, has been busy making orange and black tiger striped doughnuts, cookies and cupcakes in honor of the Bengals. She predicted the Bengals would face the Chiefs, a team they beat during the regular season, in the playoffs.

She thinks the Bengals can win again.

The key, she said, is for Burrow to “keep cool” and that shouldn’t be a problem since he’s the “coolest man ever.”

Another Bengal win would mean two more weeks of Super Bowl hype. That would lead to more green for those who support the orange and black.

“We can all be winners,” Slamka said.


HOW TO WATCH

WHAT: AFC Championship Game, Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Arrowhead Stadium

CHANNEL: CBS

WHAT’S AT STAKE: Winner advances to Super Bowl LVI against the winner of the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams

LINE: Chiefs favored by 7.5 points

ON THE WEB: Check out photos of area businesses selling Bengals-themed items. journal-news.com

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