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Blazed buffalo wings: The new high flying Super Bowl snack

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LA Post: Blazed buffalo wings: The new high flying Super Bowl snack
February 06, 2024
Nahal Garakani - LA Post

Just in time for the biggest sports event of the year, a new THC-infused buffalo wing sauce is hitting the shelves, promising to spice up Super Bowl parties across Chicago and "revolutionize" the cannabis industry.

Cresco Labs, one of Illinois' most prominent cannabis companies, has partnered with local restaurant Fifty/50 in Wicker Park to produce "Good News THC Buffalo Sauce" - a 100mg THC, 10oz jar of buffalo wing sauce meant to coat 20-24 wings. With 3-5mg of THC per wing, the sauce provides a buzz and the traditional spicy kick of buffalo flavor.

The new product launch taps into the Super Bowl hype and America's love of chicken wings - studies show wings are the most popular Super Bowl party food in Illinois. Cresco Labs spokesperson Jason Erkes said, "We wanted to insert ourselves into the conversation around the biggest sports moment and create a product that people can enjoy during the Super Bowl."

The THC-infused wing sauce represents Cresco's push to "normalize, professionalize, and revolutionize" the cannabis industry. Lucas Chapman, head of production at Cresco's Joliet facility, called the launch just "the start" of combining food and cannabis. Their flavorless, odorless THC oil allows for endless infusion possibilities to create buzz-worthy foods and drinks.

Chapman gave a behind-the-scenes look at Cresco's massive Joliet production plant, where machines churn out tens of millions of cannabis edibles each year, from gummies to mints to chocolate. The same THC oil used in those products now gives the buffalo wing sauce its psychoactive kick.

The THC oil is made by squeezing and pressing fresh frozen cannabis flowers into a concentrated, distilled form. When mixed with Fifty/50's traditional buffalo sauce, Chapman said you'll only taste the signature spicy, buttery flavor - not the weed.

The Good News THC Buffalo Sauce will be sold in limited quantities for around $30 starting Friday, February 3rd, at all four Sunnyside dispensaries in Chicago. With the sauce containing 100mg total THC, the typical wing serving of 20-24 wings would have 3-5mg THC per wing.

This allows Super Bowl party hosts to control the potency and achieve the desired effects, whether a slight relaxation or a more potent high. Erkes suggested it "might help fans get along a little better during the game," regardless of whether you're rooting for the Chiefs or 49ers.

As one of the first THC-infused wing sauces on the legal market, the launch represents the growing intersection of food and cannabis as Illinois embraces recreational marijuana. Cresco is betting big that psychoactive party foods and snacks will continue gaining mainstream acceptance.

So far, young activist investors are pushing big banks and brokers to divest from fossil fuel companies over concerns about climate change, turning their focus to financial institutions beyond just energy producers.

Major financial firms like BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, and Barclays are facing more pressure from activist shareholders to expand their renewable energy investments or reduce fossil fuel funding in some ways. While climate change proposals typically face long odds, they have garnered high support in recent years. Around 30 percent of shareholders voted for climate resolutions at BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase's annual meetings last year.

The votes show rising pressure in the U.S. and across the globe as young people take to the streets over climate worries and lean on money managers and CEOs to shift financing away from coal and other fossil fuels. "The financial sector is the Achilles heel of the fossil fuel industry," said Ben Cushing, who leads the Sierra Club's financial advocacy campaign. He added that big banks feel public pressure from activists to act. "From where I sit, it's incredibly encouraging," he told The Hill. In the coming months, activists are unlikely to let up pressure on financial companies. Shareholders have filed proposals for more climate-related actions at banks like Citigroup and brokerages like Charles Schwab. Environmental groups also plan to target BlackRock and Vanguard, two of the world's largest money managers.

Some climate proposals call for banks to stop financing new fossil fuel developments. In contrast, others urge financial firms to report how aligned their investments are with global climate goals to limit global warming.

In a win for activists, Citigroup said this month it would become the first central U.S. bank to disclose such alignment for sectors like oil and gas.

"We take the issue of climate change very seriously," Citi CEO Jane Fraser wrote in a blog post, citing "the risk it presents to our business, customers and communities." Other banks have also vowed some climate actions after facing pressure.

JPMorgan Chase said last year it would push clients to develop net-zero climate plans. Wells Fargo has also expanded support for sustainability-linked financial deals.

"It's a huge signal. [Citi] is one of the largest funders of fossil fuel expansion," said Sierra Club's Ben Cushing. "For an oil and gas company to hear that one of their largest bankers is going to have to explain how their business model aligns with climate goals — that's going to send a chill down their spine."Younger Americans, in particular, want to see climate action from corporations and financial institutions.

A recent survey from the banking trade group The Clearing House found that 79 percent of Gen Z respondents think banks, credit card companies, and other financial services firms should help limit climate change." I think this is only going to accelerate," said Greg Baer, CEO of the trade group.

Baer downplayed recent climate proposal votes, noting that most didn't pass. But he added that banks "have gotten the message" as society focuses more on environmental concerns.

"We have certainly seen our members take steps in this direction, to the extent governments are taking steps," he said. "As there are greater incentives to move toward green energy, banks will finance more green energy."

Activists argue that recent climate actions and proposal votes are only early indications that financial firms must take bolder steps around climate change.

While U.S. banks have vowed to align their lending and investments with net-zero goals, most have yet to commit to achieving net-zero emissions from their portfolios by a specific time.

In Europe, however, many major financial firms such as HSBC and Standard Chartered have agreed to a collective effort to reach a state of net-zero emissions by 2050.

"The U.S. banks, by and large, are quite a way behind," said Jeanne Martin, senior campaign manager at ShareAction, a group pushing HSBC and Barclays to take further climate actions.

Martin argued that proposals from activist investors help bring about change.

"Last year, we saw record support for our climate resolutions. We believe that helped push HSBC and Standard Chartered to join the net-zero banking alliance," she said. "Those resolutions do put pressure on banks to raise their ambition."

In the U.S., activists see even climate proposals gaining 20-30 percent support as an indication that momentum is growing. "We're trying to build pressure on these companies across the board," said Sierra Club's Cushing. "Even proposals that seem demanding and don't pass [at first], two or three years later seem incredibly reasonable."

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