Smart Home

Alexa's taking orders for Wingstop chicken wings

I'd tell you more, but my mouth is full.

"Hi, my name's Alexa, and I'll be taking your order today."

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's a new year, and perhaps a new world, because now, you can order chicken wings using Alexa voice commands.

The news comes courtesy of the Wingstop skill for Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers. Enable it in the Alexa app and link things up with your Wingstop account, and you'll be able to ask Amazon's popular voice assistant to place your order.

What's notable here, aside from the fact that the cloud has chicken wings in it now, is that this is Alexa's first food-ordering skill that can take menu-specific orders. You could already ask Alexa to order you pizza from places like Pizza Hut and Domino's, for instance, but you can only trigger a preset favorite order. You can't just say, "Alexa, order me a sausage and pepperoni pizza." With the Wingstop skill, you can order whatever wings you want.

At least, sort of. At launch, your options are limited to Wingstop's combo menu, with no obvious way to take advantage of specials like 60-cent-wing Tuesdays. I know this because, intrepid reporter that I am, I placed an order of my own to see how things went. Good thing I've got an extra roll of Tums left over from CES.

All in all, it was pretty smooth. Alexa told me my combo options, and I chose one that offered 15 wings, two soft drinks, and a large order of fries to split with my colleague Andrew Gebhart. I have a pretty mild palette, but he likes his food as spicy as it comes. Fortunately for us, the skill lets you split the flavors up as you see fit.

After picking "Atomic" for him and "Teriyaki" for me, I was able to select how many of each I wanted -- eight and seven, respectively. After that, Alexa confirmed everything, told me my total and then asked if I was ready to place the order. I told her I was born ready. She didn't understand that, so I tried just saying, "Yes," which worked as expected.

From the cloud to the pickup counter.

Ry Crist/CNET

From there, I hopped in the car and drove 6 miles to the nearest Wingstop (sadly, none of the local options offered delivery). I told the cashier I'd come to pick up a lunch order. "R.Y. Christ?" she asked. I said sure. Close enough. I just wanted my wings.

And I got them: Eight Atomic and seven Teriyaki, just as I'd ordered. They were okay. Truth be told, I'm not really a big wing guy, but I'm not letting that get me down -- the chances are good that we'll see more menu-specific Alexa integrations like this one before long. Amazon Restaurants already syncs up nicely with Alexa if you live in the right city, and I can't imagine that the good folks over at Domino's enjoy being one-upped like this.

Still, this doesn't feel like a game-changer, at least not for me. I like talking to real people when I'm ordering food -- every now and then, they'll clue you in on a good special or help you nitpick the finer details of your meal (case in point, I saw ads for limited edition Korean BBQ-flavored wings when I got to the store, and immediately regretted my choice of Teriyaki). Alexa can't help with any of that (although, given the rate at which she keeps learning new tricks, perhaps that will change.)

More than anything, this is probably just a play for attention -- and lo and behold, here I am writing about it and here you are reading about it. If nothing else, Wingstop will probably see a very slight uptick in sales to curious tech journalists. And, if Amazon decides to run another star-studded Super Bowl ad for Alexa, the chances seem pretty good that Wingstop will factor in.

Just someone please tell Alec Baldwin that the Teriyaki wings were only so-so.