“It is all about the legacy of keeping King of Wings alive in Minnesota and teaching people about him and his chicken wings,” said Robert Patterson, former employee of Leland Carriger’s King of Wings and current owner of the Kings Royal Seasoning and Kings Royal Wings.
Patterson is from Minnesota, born and raised. “I started doing the King of Wings spice because I knew the King Of Wings [Carriger] was a fixture in Minnesota and was a Minnesota legend. Yes, there is a lot of chicken in the community, but there is nothing else that has been a fixture in the community or the whole state of Minnesota. Not just for Black people, but [for] everybody.”
Patterson pursued Carriger’s family to get the recipe; he said it took eight years to finally get it. “I had to figure out the recipe because it was not functional. I got it back going again, and this is where we are at now.”
Patterson shared some history of King of Wings: “Back in the 1960s, there was a South Minneapolis restaurant called Art Song’s, and in North Minneapolis we had King of Wings. Although both were dry rubs chicken, one was completely different, because the King’s were spicy and flavorful. On the South Side it was bland and more on the sweet side.”
Carriger started the business out of his house with a kitchen set up in his garage. Patterson told MSR, “There were about eight fryers in [the garage]. Probably about 50 kids [worked there] over an eight-year period. There was always at least six kids working at a time.
“We packed the buckets, and [Carriger] would take the buckets in his van and deliver them into the community and sell them around town. The King of Wings was considered the first food truck in the community, because he was the only one who would go from bar to bar selling his chicken.”
Patterson’s career with the King began when he was 14. He continued working in the garage with Carriger until he was 17, which is when Patterson helped the King of Wings open his restaurant in North Minneapolis. It was located on Broadway and Washington from 1980 until 1993 and Carriger’s passing. “His family closed the restaurant because they did not know how to make the spice. “They had the recipe but did not know the process of making it,” Patterson said.
Patterson figured out how to make the recipe functional and got things going again. He is not currently selling the chicken, just the spice rub, now called King’s Royal Wings, to local bars and in the community.
Loyal customers enjoy King’s Royal Wings at The US Bank Stadium in the box seats, Bunny’s Bar and Grill, a couple of VFWs, all five Lucky 13 locations in the Twin Cities, and Thirsty Otter Bar and Lounge in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. Patterson would like to spread the seasoning to the South.
“People always tend to think of the South as having the best fried chicken, but they have never tried anything like this,” Patterson said. “The King of Wings is like a thousand times better than any fried chicken down South.”
Kings Royal Seasoning spice rub can be found at So Low grocery store in North Minneapolis, Sosa Foods and Franklin Street Deli in South Minneapolis, and Annona Gourmet in Northeast Minneapolis.
For more information about the seasoning, check out the Kings Royal Seasoning Facebook page.
Brandi D. Phillips welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandi Phillips is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.