Wednesday, October 18, 2006

DC Legend: Chicken Wings & Mumbo Sauce


Mumbo Jumbo
Noun. 1. Confusing or incomprehensible language or activity. 2. An obscure ritual or incantation. [Mandingo origin.]
American Heritage Dictionary
Of the English Language



Mumbo sauce? Anyone who has ever traveled east of the Anacostia River has heard the term, Mumbo Sauce. What do I mean by east of the river? I mean if you have ventured anywhere near Benning Road, Wheeler Road, Southern Avenue, or Minnesota Avenue in North/Southeast Washington, D.C. There is no way that you can go into any Korean owned and operated “Kerry-Out” [trans. Carry-Out food] in DC and not hear someone order french fries with chicken wings and Mumbo Sauce. Impossible! Some like it on the chicken and others (like me) like it on the side. I’ve always thought of Mumbo Sauce as a DC thang, but where did it really come from?  Actually, Mumbo Sauce originated on Chicago's Southside in the early 1950s by a man named Argia B. Collins, who was known for his famous ribs and barbeque Mumbo Sauce. Now, somehow the name (Mumbo) made its way to the District of Columbia.  Perhaps Ishmael Reed's "Jes Grew" brought it here after passing through Harold's Chicken Shack on Stony Island. Nonetheless, I love that Mumbo Sauce.

Now, another question that I’m sure comes to mind is:  what in the blazes is Mumbo Sauce and what are the ingredients? Well, no one seems to know the specific ingredients of the sauces that are promoted at DC area carryouts.  I know…scary! This is because every carryout makes their sauce differently. I have a favorite spot that I like to go for my chicken wings and Mumbo Sauce. It tastes so good on the chicken; It's both sweet and tangy! I believe they use a little Worcestershire sauce in their blend, and I think that I tasted some nutmeg? I don’t know, but I love it. However, I can’t eat all that fried food too often because that stuff will make you fat and eventullay kill me. So I get it here and there. This past weekend was one of those moments. So, the next time that you are in DC stop by one of our local carryouts (there’s one on every corner), and get yourself an order of chicken wings and Mumbo Sauce. Oh…and all the fries they can give you.

Peace and chicken grease~

Note:  The trademark MUMBO was adopted by Argia B. Collins, Sr. for use in connection with a barbecue sauce he developed for his Chicago restaurant.  Since as early as 1950, Mr. Collins and his business used this trademark, and his successor-in-interest, Select Brands, LLC, registered the trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 25, 1999, Registration No. 2,247,855.  The MUMBO trademark has been used for sauces, and appears on labels as part of the phrase MUMBO® SAUCE. (Information provided by:  Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP, Chicago, IL)

This post was inspired by the works of Ishmael Reed
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