Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wendy's Bacon & Blue Burger

Wendy's new Bacon & Blue Burger has blue cheese crumbles and smoked bacon, with sautéed onions and steakhouse sauce.

"We've heard loud and clear that our customers love the new Applewood smoked bacon," says Ken Calwell, chief marketing officer for Wendy's. "This great bacon and real blue cheese crumbles takes the Bacon and Blue hamburger to a whole new level and offers gourmet taste for a value price."

The Bacon & Blue is available for a limited time and priced at $4.29.

The burger has 680 calories and 40 grams of fat. It proudly serves up 75% of your daily Saturated Fat intake (15 grams). Here are the complete nutritional facts:

I don't normally do this, but while I was checking to see if I could add this burger to our HFCS-free Fast Food list, I couldn't help but notice the rather extensive list of ingredients, so I decided to include them ALL right here. Seems like a lot... even for a 'fancy' burger! By the way, 3 elements of the burger have High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), the bun, the Creamy Steakhouse Spread and the ketchup; the mayonnaise just has regular corn syrup. Okay, here's all the parts of the burger and their respective ingredients...

Premium Bun
Enriched Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, niacin, iron, folic acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Soy and/or Canola Oil, Wheat Gluten, Contains 2% or less of the following: Salt, Dough Conditioners (contains one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono and diglycerides, DATEM, calcium peroxide, calcium sulfate, L-cysteine, enzymes), Yeast Nutrients (contains one or more of the following: ammonium sulfate, tricalcium phosphate, ammonium chloride), Modified Food Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Wheat Starch, Maltodextrin, Gum Arabic, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Propionate (preservative). Topped with Yellow Corn Meal. CONTAINS: WHEAT.

Hamburger Patty
Ground Beef. Seasoned with Salt.

Tomatoes, 1-2 slices


Applewood Smoked Bacon, 4 Strips
Pork Cured With: Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

Creamy Steakhouse Spread
Soybean Oil, Water, Blue Cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), Egg Yolk, Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Spices, Garlic (dehydrated), Onion (dehydrated), Shallots (dehydrated), Mustard Seed, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (preservatives), Glucono Delta Lactone, Xanthan Gum, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Calcium Disodium EDTA (to protect flavor). CONTAINS: EGG, MILK

Seasoned Sauteed Onions
Sauteed Yellow Onions (yellow onion, sea salt, maltodextrin, evaporated cane juice, potassium chloride, fractionated coconut oil, caramel color, spices, natural flavor, extra virgin olive oil, citric acid, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate), Onion Seasoning (maltodextrin, salt, autolyzed yeast extract, natural flavors, spice, garlic powder, onion powder, artificial flavors, less than 2% of each of the following: silicon dioxide and sunflower oil [processing aids]).

Real Blue Cheese Crumbles
Blue Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, mold, natamycin), Powdered Cellulose (to prevent caking). CONTAINS: MILK

Water, Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup, Egg Yolk, Modified Corn Starch, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (preservatives), Natural Flavor, Calcium Disodium EDTA (to protect taste), Yellow 5 and 6. CONTAINS: EGG.

Dill Pickles (4)
Cucumbers, Water, Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate (preservative), Alum, Natural Flavors, Polysorbate 80, Yellow 5, Blue 1.

Tomato Concentrate (made from red ripe tomatoes), Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Salt, Spice, Onion Powder, Natural Flavoring.

Water, Distilled Vinegar, Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric (color), Paprika, Spice.

Onion (4 rings)

American Cheese Slice
Cultured Milk, Water, Cream, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Sorbic Acid (preservative), Artificial Color, Enzymes, Soy Lecithin. CONTAINS: MILK, SOY.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wendy's NEW Bacon Deluxe

The name remains the same, but changes have been made to Wendy's Bacon Deluxe.

The New Bacon Deluxe is "fresh-cooked beef, melted American cheese, hand-leafed lettuce, and sliced beefsteak tomato topped with four seriously thick, crispy strips of Applewood Smoked Bacon on a Kaiser bun."

Yup, you caught it:  Applewood Smoked Bacon.

Wendy's is so excited about their new Applewood Smoked Bacon, they even have a special Twitter account to talk about it:  @urBaconMeCrazy

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wendy's Gourmet Mushroom Swissburger

Wendy's has introduced their new Gourmet Mushroom Swissburger for a limited time.

It is 1/4 lb. of beef topped with Swiss cheese, sauteed Portabella mushroom blend, hickory smoked bacon, pepercorn sauce, lettuce, and tomato.

And if you're signed up for WendyMail you've received a $1 off coupon for one.

But hey, don't let the mushrooms fool you!! This baby isn't about being a healthy burger.

166% of your daily value of fat, 136% of your daily value of sodium, 205% of your daily value of saturated fat, AND a whopping 4 grams of Trans Fat! It has 1810 calories, 970 from fat and 108 fat grams.

Boy, did we get that wrong! As you can see in the comments below, I was quickly called out for ersatz nutritional data on this burger. I did get my data directly from Wendy's, but am still uncertain about what happened. Some of the figures are 3 times what is now on Wendy's site. One, the Cholesterol, is actually more than what I listed before. I'm inclined to believe that Wendy's corrected their site shortly after I posted the data, but I can't be sure. Mistakes do happen. Thanks to you alert readers for catching the error.

Here's all the corrected nutritional data (as reported by Wendy's):

By the way, the 1.5 grams of Trans Fat is still rather disappointing when everyone else seems to be eliminating Trans Fat altogether.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wendy's Flavor Dipped Chicken Sandwiches

Wendy's is currently promoting their limited-time-only Flavor Dipped Chicken Sandwiches.

There are two versions, BBQ and Buffalo.

The chicken breasts at the center of these sandwiches are fully dipped in one of the two flavors.

The Spicy Buffalo Sauce dipped chicken filet comes with lettuce, tomato and blue cheese sauce (on a bun, of course, as shown in the photo).

The BBQ sauce dipped version comes with onions and pickles.

The BBQ version has 450 calories and 12 grams of fat. The Buffalo version has 530 calories and twice the fat (24 grams).

Here's the complete nutritional information for both sandwiches:

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Friday, September 26, 2008

World's Best Wendy's is in Colorado

A Wendy's fast food restaurant in the small town of Firestone, Colorado has been chosen as the best Wendy's in the world.

It won over other finalists in Charlotte, NC, Valdosta, GA, and Auckland, New Zealand. The Wendy's were judged on quality, service, cleanliness, food safety and leadership.

The manager of the Firestone, CO Wendy's, Vance Gray (pictured with his award) won a new Pontiac Solstice convertible. The management team and crew will also receive more than $15,000 in prizes, but Grays says it's more than just about the prizes.
"For some of my teenagers here they're 16 and 17 years old. For me to go up and say, ‘You know what? You're the best in the world at what you do.’ That can inspire them for a lifetime,” said Gray.
Here's an interview with the winning Wendy's manager Vance Gray on Denver, Colorado's NBC affiliate KUSA-TV Channel 9.

The 'best' Wendy's crew:


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Merged: Arby's and Wendy's

Shareholders of Arby's parent company Triarc and Wendy's approved the merger of the two fast food restaurant chains.
Roland Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Triarc, said: “We are very pleased that the shareholders of both Triarc and Wendy’s have approved the merger, and we look forward to working together with employees of both companies in setting a new course for Wendy’s/Arby’s Group. We believe our combination represents a major strategic opportunity to create significant long-term value for all of our stakeholders, and we are working on a comprehensive integration plan and organizational structure to support enhanced operating performance at both brands. We intend to share more detailed plans regarding the new company as soon as practicable after the transaction closes.”
The two chains are not expected to merge their menus, though, despite being part of the same company. The Arby's and Wendy's brands are likely to remain separate and distinct in the eyes of consumers.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Fast Food Burger Reviews from 1978

Thanks to a new Newspaper archive at Google News, we can go back in time 30 years to read what one food critic in Pittsburgh had to say about the fast food burgers available then.

The article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dining Out section by Mike Kalina was called "Wendy's Grinds Out Foes in Burger Taste Test."

Here's the burgers reviewed:
Wendy's "Wendy's Single" - price: 85¢ - Rating: A
Burger Chef's "Super Shef" - price: $1.09 - Rating: B
Burger King's "Whopper" - price: $1.09 - Rating: C-
Hardee's "Deluxe Huskee" - price $1.10 - Rating: C-
Winky's "The Great One" - price $1.09 - Rating C-
McDonald's "Quarter-pounder" - price: 95¢ - Rating: D

Today, 30 years later, a Whopper costs $2.59. That's up 238% in 30 years.

Other things were different then, too. McDonald's was the old stand-by, all the other chains were "feisty newcomers:"
"For years, McDonald's hamburgers dominated the fast-food scene, but in recent years the firm's success has been challenged by feisty newcomers."
The Post-Gazette's taste test "revealed unequivocally that Wendy's puts out the best hamburgers."

Also noted, as Wendy's has been promoting heavily of late, Wendy's hamburger meat is "ground fresh daily, which greatly enhances its taste (most chains use frozen patties)."

About McDonald's, Kalina wrote:  "The burgers...contained fewer garnishes than any others we sampled and were the poorest-tasting.  The sesame-seed rolls, however, were very good...The patties...had the texture and look of shoe leather."

And about Burger King:  "The thin, charcoal-broiled pattie was a bit dry and encumbered by too large a roll (about five inches across).  There seemed to be too much bread and not enough burger."<

30 years later and 4 of the restaurants Mr. Kalina reviewed are even bigger national chains.

Wendy's still doesn't freeze their meat, BK still flame-broils theirs, and some would still agree that a McDonald's hamburger patty has the look and taste of shoe leather!

A side note... I thought I'd see if Mr. Kalin might still be doing restaurant reviews in Pittsburgh and discovered that despite a successful career with columns and TV shows about food and travel and a popular cookbook, he committed suicide in 1992.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Wendy's 'Never Frozen' Claims Justified

Wendy's "Always Fresh, Never Frozen" claims have been upheld by the BBB.

Burger King took issues, last year, with a claim Wendy's made in some of their advertising.

Two of the claims made in television advertising by Wendy's that were challenged were these lines:
  1. "If hamburgers were meant to be frozen, wouldn’t cows come from Antarctica? Wendy’s hamburgers are made with fresh never frozen beef. Who else can say that? It’s better than fast food. It’s Wendy’s."
  2. "So, Dad, you know Wendy’s is dedicated to using fresh beef that’s never been frozen do you realize what kind of commitment that takes? I mean, to vow to something and then to continue to deliver on that promise ... a promise is only good if it is kept. Wendy’s hot and juicy hamburgers are made with fresh, never frozen beef, that’s a promise. Its way better than fast food, it’s Wendy’s."
BK took their complaint to the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of the Better Business Bueaus.

Wendy's supplied NAD with "a thorough explanation of how the process was specifically designed to process only fresh beef and why there is no danger of the beef temperature falling below the freezing temperature."

The NAD stated: "Following its review of the evidence in the record, including the affidavit, NAD found that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis to support the claim, "Wendy’s, Always Fresh, Never Frozen," with respect to its hamburger patties."

You can read the NAD's full report.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Wendy's Double Stack on Value Menu

Wendy's has announced the national introduction of a 99-cent Double Stack cheeseburger to its value menu. The company plans to aggressively promote the menu option, along with the popular 99-cent Junior Bacon Cheeseburger and 99-cent Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

"The Double Stack is a proven store traffic and sales driver," said Wendy's interim chief marketing officer Paul Kershisnik. "While the sandwich has been offered over the years in a number of U.S. markets, this will be the first time we have rolled it
out nationally."

The Double Stack will feature two junior hamburger patties, cheese, ketchup, onion, mustard and pickles. The sandwich will replace the Stack Attack on Wendy's Value Menu.

The question is, can you get it anyway you want it or are the ketchup, onion, mustard and pickles mandatory?!?!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Meatatarians Viral Video from Wendy's

Wendy's has a new viral video circulating on YouTube.

The video shows a 'Meatatarian' head of lettuce violently devouring a Wendy's hamburger (see video below).

The video info links to A site that describes itself thusly:
The Highly Esteemed Council of Meatatarians is an establishment of meat lovers and eaters whose goal is to eat meat, and only meat, without the inclusion of other non-meat products, while celebrating meat with the utmost regard. Our goal is to continue our dominance atop the food chain and bring meat lovers to a new understanding of their nature, their calling to become true Meatatarians.
The "Meatatarians Unite!" offers to let you sign up to receive an e-mail (from Wendy's). The e-mail includes a link to a printable "Certificate of Meatatarianism."

It also has a link to which asks you to install their "coupon printer" software in order to print a Wendy's coupon.

Note: 'coupon printer' program is installed on your computer and is reported by some websites to track your browsing. I'm not installing it, and Wendy's should know better than to make us install something on our computer in order to print their coupons! (Heard of .pdf guys?) If you're brave enough to install software from an advertising company on your computer, let us know in the comments what the coupon is all about (or send us an e-mail).
[Update] Sandy writes:
It’s for $1 off The Baconator. Expires 9/27/08.
I’ve had the coupon printer add on installed for ages.
Lots of companies use it to make sure printed coupons are legit.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Consumerist: Wendy's requires toppings

The Consumerist has Brandon's story about visiting his regular Wendy's in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and ordering his regular sandwich, a double stack "plain" (as in no toppings, just meat & cheese on a bun) and being told that that was impossible.

Brandon was told that it was Wendy's policy to only serve the double stack the way it comes (with toppings).

Hmmm? Sure, I know it's Burger King that says, "Have it your way," but surely any fast food joint can serve a plain old cheeseburger without all the extras, right?

But no. Brandon ended up leaving Wendy's without his burger. No matter what he tried, they would not serve him a burger without all toppings.

Read the whole story
at one of our favorite blogs, The Consumerist!


Monday, July 07, 2008

Move over Frosty! New frozen drinks at Wendy's

Two years ago this month, Wendy's finally began offering a variation on their 36 year old "Frosty." The original Frosty was chocolate... in July of 2006 Wendy's started selling a vanilla Frosty.

Now Wendy's has a whole new collection of Frosty variations.

These new variations include sippable ones. The original Frosty was served only with a spoon.

The frozen drinks now available at Wendy's include:
(Click the links above for descriptions and nutritional info from Wendy's.)

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Arby's buying Wendy's for $2.3 billion

Actually, the owner of Arby's, billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, is doing the buying, but he also owns Arby's (through a company called Triarc).

Dave Thomas started Wendy's in 1969.

Thomas' daughter Pam Thomas Farber said the family was devastated by the news.

"It's a very sad day for Wendy's, and our family. We just didn't think this would be the outcome," said Farber, 53.

If her father were alive to hear news of the buyout, "he would not be amused," she said.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Wendy's customer wins burger build

In May, Wendy’s challenged America to create and vote for its next great burger. Seven months and 15,000 entries later, the people have chosen a winner: The Philly Style Hoagie Burger, created by Ian Van Camp, a screenwriter from Los Angeles.

Wendy’s announced the winning burger today to mark the 38th anniversary of the founding of the hamburger chain by Dave Thomas in 1969.

Upon winning the $25,000 prize Van Camp said, “I knew if I got too crazy with the ingredients it wouldn’t be possible for Wendy’s to make – but it had to be unique,” said Van Camp. “The fact that Wendy’s tested my burger in their food kitchen and that people liked what they tasted – how cool is that? Not many people can say that.”

More on Van Camp's burger at


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New product testing by McD's and Wendy's

Wendy's only sold chocolate Frosty's until July of last year (2006) when they introduced a vanilla shake. Now Wendy's is testing strawberry shakes.

Since the introduction of the vanilla Frosty, Frosty sales are up 60 percent and now top 300 million a year.

McDonald's has begun testing two new McSkillet Burritos in a number of markets. One of the new McSkillet Burritos features steak and the other features sausage, both combined with potatoes, eggs, cheese and peppers.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wendy's social "hot, juicy burgers"

Wendy's new promotion and web site,, is an attempt at social burger marketing.

The site lets you upload a picture of your face which is then added to a customizable character with a red, Wendy's wig. You also give your character a slogan representing why you should receive free 'hot, juicy burgers' from Wendy's for a year. If people vote on your character/slogan and you receive points. More importantly, from Wendy's point of view, you also receive points when you refer friends to the site by supplying their e-mail addresses.

The site is pretty slick. It's easy to use and it's new and different. This promotion might work out well for Wendy's.

By the way, if you're feeling generous, you can vote for my character and slogan! Just follow the link (you get a custom link when you register) and find my character or your character and click on him/her to vote. That's my character pictured at the top of the post.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Wendy's controversial graffiti ad

Wendy's has a new ad that is being shown nationwide in movie theaters. It features graffiti artist "Siloette" spray painting her version of "Wendy" on a communal wall in Phoenix. (Watch the ad below.)

But one public servant isn't happy with the ad. Denver, Colorado City Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz has written a letter to Wendy's asking them to stop running the ad. She wrote, "Please do not make our community efforts to stop graffiti vandalism harder and more expensive than it already is."

Faatz pointed out that the city of Denver will spend over a million dollars on graffiti clean-up this year.

Denny Lynch, senior vice president of communications at Wendy's, said the ad celebrates Sillette's distinct style of art and that other videos in the ad campaign feature other styles of art.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

BK's new $1 trans fat sandwich

Burger King is now serving a spicy, crispy chicken sandwich that only costs a buck.

The Spicy Chick'n Crisp Sandwich is a crispy chicken filet with a spicy kick served with lettuce and mayonnaise on a sesame seed bun.

It may not shrink your wallet much, but it will certainly expand your waist. For a smallish, one dollar sandwich, this thing is loaded with fat. And not just any's got 2 grams of trans fat!

I thought BK was planning on going trans-fat free like Wendy's and so many other fast food chains. Guess not.

It has 480 calories, 280 calories from fat, 31 grams of fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 2 grams trans fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 460 mg sodium, 8 grams carbs, and 10 grams of protein.

UPDATE: Here's the TV ad promoting the sandwich as the latest member of the BK Value Menu. It's a strange ad made on the cheap (like the sandwich I guess).

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wendy's Baconator quite popular

Wendy's new "Baconator" sandwich has six strips of hickory smoked bacon on top of 1/2 lb. of beef with American cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise.

"This is one of the most successful new product introductions we've had in some time," said Wendy's Chief Executive Officer and President Kerrii Anderson.

Wendy's sold 25 million of the Baconators in the first 8 weeks they were being promoted.

That's over 20 billion calories and 2,810,893 lbs of fat! That much fat is equal to 439 H2 Hummers. (And you'll need a Hummer to tote you around if you eat many Baconators!)

Here's the nutrition facts for just 1 Baconator: 830 calories, 460 calories from fat, 51 grams of fat, 22 grams saturated fat, 2.5 grams trans fat, 170 mg cholesterol, 1920 mg sodium, 35 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 8 grams sugar, 57 grams protein.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wendy's red wigs

In other Wendy's news, Wendy's has delivered 5,000 red wigs with ponytails (like the red hair of "Wendy" of the Wendy's logo). The wigs are being worn by employees. There are also cardboard cut-outs that customers can stand under for photos of themselves giving them the red-top look. This is all in advance of a web promotion set to kick-off next week.

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Wendy's NYC nutrtional info

Wendy's has posted the following on their website regarding nutritional information posting in NYC:
We regret that Wendy's cannot provide product calorie information to residents or customers in New York City. The New York City Department of Health passed a regulation requiring restaurants that already provide calorie information to post product calories on their menu boards -- using the same type size as the product listing.

We fully support the intent of this regulation; however, since most of our food is made-to-order, there isn't enough room on our existing menu boards to comply with the regulation. We have for years provided complete nutritional information on posters inside the restaurant and on our website. To continue to provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants on our website and on our nutritional posters would subject us to this regulation. As a result, we will no longer provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants.

We regret this inconvenience. If you have questions about this regulation, please contact the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and refer to Health Code Section 81.50.
Subsequently, a judge has prevented NY from enforcing the new law, stating that the rules, which would have applied only to restaurants that already disclosed calorie data, "would have attempted to punish the very restaurants that are already providing accurate and comprehensive nutrition information."

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wendy's new TV ad campaign

Wendy's has a new ad campaign that is built around the slogan "That's right!" The campaign debuted during the season finale of American Idol. Wendy's has been trying hard to recapture the effectiveness of their former ads featuring Wendy's founder Dave Thomas before his death in 2002. Thomas appeared in over 800 ads in 12 years for the #3 burger chain.

"Wendy's has got this great legacy and heritage," said Kevin Roberts, Worldwide CEO for ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi. "I think many agencies have struggled with how do you replace Dave. I think here we haven't replaced him. We've taken what he said and what he thought and given it to the consumer. Now Dave is not the boss, but the consumer is the boss."

Here's one of the new "That's Right!" ads:


Raw chicken at Wendy's

I recently related Susie Felber's experience of getting a raw McChicken sandwich at McDonald's. Now I've found this video of another customer's similar experience at Wendy's. The customer shows the "Spicy Chicken Sandwich" that he ordered at Wendy's and part of it does appear to be raw.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Fast Food Maps

A new website called Fast Food Maps is an intriguing use of Google Maps to plot the location of major fast food restaurants in the US.

The site displays locations for 10 popular chains: McDonald's (with 13,642 locations shown), Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Wendy's, KFC, Jack in the Box, Hardee's, Carl's Jr., and In-N-Out Burger.

The site is navigated by selecting a state and then city in the upper-right corner of the screen. You can then navigate the map using the standard Google Maps controls (dragging the map and zooming in and out). The 'screen stats' at the lower right show the restaurant totals for the area shown on the map screen. Here's the map, locations and stats for Fort Worth, Texas (my home).

There's also a static US map that shows the density of all or selected restaurant chains across the entire US.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Contaminated food claim against Wendy's

There's been another contaminated food claim against Wendy's. It's been two years since the national media event over the false claim of a California woman that she'd found a finger in her Chili at Wendy's. This time the claim is over finding human blood at the bottom of a Wendy's frosty (aka chocolate shake).

Nashville, Tennessee resident William Hoover has filed suit against Wendy's franchisee Bridgeman Foods after allegedly finding human blood at the bottom of his Frosty. "After consuming most of the Frosty, Hoover noticed a red substance on the end of the straw," the lawsuit claims. It also says the substance "was tested and was revealed to be human blood."

more at the Nashville Post.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Outsourcing the drive-thru window

Some fast food restaurants are now relying on remote call-centers to take their drive-thru orders. That means the next time you speak into a drive-thru order box the person your talking to on the other end of the wires could be miles away.

Remote call-centers for order taking is just part of a comprehensive order effeciency solution offered to fast food restaurants by a company called Exit41.

Another part of the plan is a camera that takes a photo of each customer as they speak their order into the drive-thru box. This photo is then used at the drive-thru window to help the fast food employee match the right food order with the right customer (see photo above).

Exit41's system promises to provide fast food restaurants with increased drive-thru capacity, higher order accuracy and speed, and improve customer satsifaction. Their system is in place in some Wendy's, Burger King, Panda Express and McDonald's locations.

There is an animated illustration and explanation of the features and benefits of Exit41's system on their website.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Hardee's offers wine suggestions

Hardee's recent TV ad features the billionaire Maloof brothers downing their $6,000 meal: a Hardee's Six Dollar Burger and a 24-year-old bottle of expensive French wine. (The $6,000 meal is only available at the Palms in Las Vegas, by the way.)

In aid of this new wine theme, Hardee's asked a wine merchant near their St. Louis headquarters to produce a wine list for some of their signature sanwiches. Here's a couple of the suggestions by Paul Hayden of The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton, Missouri:

1/3-lb. Original Thickburger -- "One of my favorite matches for a burger like this is an Australian Shiraz or a California Syrah," Hayden says. "The big fruit of these wines matches well with the variety of flavors on the Original Thickburger." Recommendations: Step Road Shiraz ($15); Qupe Syrah ($17).

1/3-lb. Mushroom 'N' Swiss Thickburger -- "The earthiness of the mushrooms will pair with a good Italian wine like a Chianti or Barbera. The high acidity of these wines will match well with the mushrooms."Recommendations: Gabbiano ($13); Gagliardo Barbers ($17).

1/3-lb. Jalapeno Thickburger -- "The classic Zinfandel will match well with the spiciness of this burger. The full fruit and full body of the Zinfandel will hold its own against the jalapenos." Recommendations: Four Vines Old Vine Zinfandel ($11); Peachy Canyon Incredible Red ($10).

Charbroiled Chicken Club Sandwich -- "With the bacon, this calls for a red wine, but you can go on the lighter side. The flavors of a good Pinot Noir will match nicely with the chicken." Recommendations: Mark West Pinot Noir ($10); Carneros Creek Pinot Noir ($17).

Mr. Hayden isn't the first sommelier to attempt to pair wines with fast food. In August of last year I wrote about an article in the NC Times suggesting wines like Falkner Winery's 2003 Luscious Lips for Wendy's hamburgers and Arby's roast beef sandwiches or a 2003 Maurice Car'rie sauvignon blanc to go with a Subway Turkey and all the trimmings.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Wendy's sells off Baja Fresh

Two weeks ago Wendy's spun-off their Canadian Tim Horton's restaurant chain. Yesterday, they unloaded their Baja Fresh chain of Mexican grills.

Baja Fresh's 299 restaurants are being purchased for $31 million by a West Coast restaurant group and retail operator who owns the Sweet Factory chain and is a franchisee of Cinnabon and Denny's outlets.

Kerrii Anderson, interim Wendy's chief executive and president, said in a release the Baja Fresh deal and the spinoff of Tim Hortons will allow the company to focus on the Wendy's brand.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wendy's frosty coupons

10 free Frosty's from Wendy's for a $1 donation? Sound too good to be true. Maybe so, but Justin Hazen says it worked at his local Wendy's.

According to Justin's blog, when you're purchasing a meal at Wendy's and you're asked if you'd like to donate to their charity, fork over a $1 and they'll give you the coupon book (shown here) good for 10 free Jr. Frostys.

I haven't tried it yet, but if you have luck (or don't) let us know about it in the comment section.

By the way, the charity your dollar will be going to is the adoption foundation created by Wendy's founder Dave Thomas, the Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation. Dave himself was adopted and was a fervent spokesperson for adoption during his lifetime.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NY may ban trans fat

New York appears to be joining Chicago with a desire to ban trans fat from the city's restaurants.

The ban would prohibit restaurants from using partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (or any products than contain it), the source of artificial trans fat.

New York Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden acknowledged that the ban would be a challenge for restaurants, but said, "it is a dangerous and unnecessary ingredient," Frieden said. "No one will miss it when it's gone."

The ban will pose a serious problem for some NY fast food restaurants that use trans fats such as McDonald's, KFC and Dunkin' Donuts. Whether this should be a law or not, it is about time the fast food chains eliminate trans fat of their own accord, as Wendy's has done.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

New KFC Snacker and promo

KFC introduced a new 'Snacker' sandwich this month along with another 'hidden message' TV ad.

The new sandwich is the KFC Ultimate Cheese Snacker. It "features KFC's signature, 100 percent chicken breast strip, covered in a blend of cheddar and Swiss cheeses, topped with crisp lettuce and served on a warm sesame seed bun."

The Cheese Snacker has 280 calories, 11 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 5 g sugars, and 15 g protein. There's that trans fat again. Get with the program KFC and eliminate that trans fat (like Wendy's did).

If you don't feel like taping TV ads just so you can watch them in slow-motion frame by frame to find a hidden message, I'll just tell you what it is: "traffic jam". That's what you'll need to enter on KFC's Cheese Snacker page before October 7 in order to enter the sweepstakes and possibly get a coupon in the mail.

There's no guarantee you'll get a coupon. Here's the message you get after you enter your name, mailing address, e-mail address and date of birth: "If you are among the 1,000 eligible participants a day, you will receive a $1 gift check (via US Mail) worth $1.00 redeemable toward the purchase of products at participating KFC restaurants"

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Wendy's cooking with trans fat free oil

I realize I mentioned this yesterday in my post about Wendy's new Frescata Italiana sandwich and back in June when they announced the change, but it bears repeating now that the switch is complete.

Wendy's is now cooking with oil that has zero grams of trans fat per serving at its 6,000 U.S. restaurants.

"Wendy's has kept its promise to its customers," said Wendy's Interim CEO Kerrii Anderson. "After two years of research and development, we said in June that we would convert to the new cooking oil by the end of August. We're proud to announce that this process is now complete."

With the move, Wendy's becomes the first major quick service restaurant chain to switch to a non-hydrogenated cooking oil for its French fries and chicken items.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New fast food Frescata at Wendy's

Wendy's has added another sandwich to their Frescata line-up.

The Frescata Italiana is made with "Black Forest ham, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, Romaine lettuce and roasted red peppers on freshly-baked artisan bread with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing."

It's worth noting that unlike the 2 other new sandwiches we've looked at this week (from Hardee's and Jack) this one has zero trans fats and quite a few less calories, too. So unlike McDonald's, Wendy's is sticking to their trans fat pledge.

On the other hand, I was disappointed to see HFCS as an ingredient again. This time it's in the sandwich's Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette.

Wendy's Frescata Italiana has 520 calories, 230 calories from fat, 25 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 1540 mg sodium, 49 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugars, 26 g protein.

The sandwich will be available through September. It's priced at $3.49 la carte, or $4.99 as a combo choice. National advertising starts on Sept. 4th.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"The Fast Supper" t-shirt for fast foodies

Threadless, an online t-shirt shop, has reissued a great t-shirt from their collection called "The Fast Supper." It depicts 6 characters from the world of fast food advertising sitting at a table in a setting reminiscent of da Vinci's The Last Supper.

The fast food apostles as they appear on the shirt are (from left to right): Arby's, Little Caesar's Pizza, Wendy's, Burger King, KFC and McDonald's.

Of course I bought one of these! I also liked and bought a t-shirt entitled Fossil Fuels.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Alderman calls out CEOs over trans fat

The Chicago alderman, Edward Burke, who has called for a city-wide ban on trans fat, has now called for the CEOs of the major fast food chains to appear before the City Council and answer for their use of trans fat.

He specifically ask for Jim Skinner of McDonald's, John W. Chidsey of Burger King Corp. and David C. Novak of Yum Brands Inc., the parent company of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken to come and explain "why they continue to use an unhealthy process when they know full well that they're putting their customers at risk."

Burke was particularly critical of McDonald's for promising to eliminate trans fat over 4 years ago and still having made little progress to date.

He praised Wendy's, though, for doing just that and invited Wendy's interim CEO, Kerrii Anderson, to address the council on just "how easy it was to make the change." [via]

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Spicy Chicken out at McD, in at Wendy's

McDonald's confirmed Wednesday it is taking its spicy chicken sandwich off the menu less than six months after its heavily marketed debut, reflecting disappointing sales.

McDonald's Corp. called the Hot 'n' Spicy McChicken its spiciest item ever when it introduced it to its 13,700 U.S. restaurants in January and said it reflected changing consumer tastes. Its launch followed the success of a spicy chicken sandwich at rival Wendy's.

But company spokesman Bill Whitman said Wednesday that the results from a half-year in the restaurants "does not meet those hurdles that we have for products to stay on our core menu." He said the sandwich, which is still available in some markets, would be brought back periodically as a promotional item, citing its devoted following among some customers. [via Yahoo!]

Meanwhile, Wendy's has introduced a spicier option for their spicy chicken sandwiches. For an additional 30 cents, customers can add a slice of pepper jack cheese to the sandwich, which costs $3.19.

Wendy's also said it will begin testing a 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken sandwich featuring jalapenos, pepper jack cheese and chipotle sauce in three markets. [also via Yahoo!]


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Wendy's to add vanilla Frosty

After 36 years of only offering a chocolate Frosty, Wendy's is finally going to introduce a Vanilla version in August.

Created by Wendy's Founder Dave Thomas, the original Frosty was one of five products on Wendy's menu in 1969. The Frosty is a cross between a milk shake and soft-serve ice cream. Wendy's serves about 300 million Frosty's annually.

"Dave wanted a dessert on the menu that was so thick you had to eat it with a spoon," said Ian Rowden, Wendy's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "There is nothing quite like the taste and texture of the Frosty. It's a real treat -- one of the best known, most popular and enduring items on our menu."

"Over the years, many of our customers have asked for a Vanilla Frosty to compliment our chocolate version," Rowden said. "By adding another flavor and stepping up our marketing efforts, we will make a strong brand even stronger."

Wendy's has been testing the Vanilla Frosty in Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa.; San Antonio, Texas; Portland, Ore.; and Youngstown, Ohio, where the customer response and sales results have been positive.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hardee's CEO ignores 'health craze'

Andrew Puzder, President and CEO of CKE (parent of Hardee's and Carl's Jr.), isn't being swayed by any health craze or obesity lawsuit. At CKE's investor meeting this week Puzder said, "The way people like to think they eat, and the way they actually eat, is usually very different."

I couldn't agree more. And I've said this before, too: the fast food industry is being divided into two camps, those who are trying to make a show of offering healthy food options and promoting fitness and those that are just giving people what they want: high-calorie, high-fat fast food. It comes down to a personal decision... what do YOU want to put in YOUR mouth. Nobody is forcing you to eat Hardee's Monster Thickburger.

CKE, like Wendy's, has found that the healthy options just aren't selling. Concerning the salads and low-carb burgers offered by Carl's Jr., Pudzer said, "we sell very few of them."

Now when it comes to marketing to kids it gets more complicated. McDonald's has marketed to young children for years and they might have a reason to be afraid of obesity lawsuits. So there heath and fitness promotions might make some sense in fending off the lawyers. But Pudzer responded to a question about his concerns about obesity lawsuits this way: "As a former trial attorney myself--no, I'm not worried."

Pudzer also opined, "I think the health craze is happening mostly among journalists."

As a perfect example of CKE's disdain for the 'health craze,' Hardee's last week unveiled their "meat as a condiment" burger, the Philly Cheesesteak Monster Thickburger.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fast food drink options to grow

Have you noticed the rapidly growing number of soft drink varieties at your grocery store and c-stores? Coke Blak, Berries and Cream Dr. Pepper, Diet Pepsi Jazz Black Cherry French Vanilla... the list goes on and on (and the names get longer and longer!)

And have you also noticed that at many fast food joints the choices are still limited to the same 5 or 6 choices that they've offered for 15 years?

Well, according to a Brandweek article I read today, the lack of choice at fast feeders is already changing quickly.

McDonald's is already testing coolers filled with a variety of bottled Coke products. Wendy's and Jack now offer bottled water. And Subway led the way be adding Coke coolers at 95% of their locations late last year.

Subway says half of their cooler sales are noncarbonated beverages. Dasani is the top seller (33%) followed by Coke Classic (17%).

So not only are the selections increasing, but the format, too: individual bottles of soda.

The exception, of course, is the drink selection king, Sonic Drive-Ins. Sonic clearly offers the largest selection of fountain drinks with 168,894 possible flavor combinations. According to the article, Sonic will be promoting themselves as the "The Ultimate Drink Stop" this year.

And while the chains increase the options, the manufacturers will continue to flood the market with more flavors. From the article:
Coke has been working with the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y., to create new drink recipes for casual dining restaurants using its fountain drinks. "Coca-Cola Specialty Beverage" recipes include the Coca-Cola Hot Tamale (Coke, fresh lime, black pepper, Worcestershire and hot sauces) and other unusual variations on old favorites.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Not Biggie, but bigger at Wendy's

Wendy's is doing away with the 'Biggie' drink size and returning to the terms everybody else uses: small, medium and large.

The difference is, though, that Wendy's us increasing the size of all their drinks. What was medium is now a small, etc. So now, small is a 20 ounce drink, medium is 32 ounces and a new 42 ounce size is a called a large. I'll say! 42 ounces is 1.2 liters (or 5 1/4 cups... a third of gallon). Wendy's will still sell a 16 ounce drink on its 99 cent value menu.

But I guess giant drink sizes don't have to matter.... if you order a diet soda!

And FYI, at Wendy's you can substitute a bottle of Dasani water for a soft drink (and you can substitute items such as a side salad, chili or yogurt and granola for french fries, regardless of the combo size).

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Wendy's cuts trans fat

Wendy's is being applauded for their switch to a non-hydrogenated cooking oil. The new oil, used for cooking French fries and breaded chicken items, will result in a significant reduction of trans fat.

Wendy's will begin using the new corn and soy oil in all their North American restaurants this summer.

Wendy's breaded chicken sandwiches, nuggets and strips will have zero grams of trans fat. Trans fats in French fry offerings will range from zero to 0.5 grams depending on size. Kids' Meal nuggets and fries will have zero grams of trans fat.

This is a step in the healthy direction for Wendy's who, as we reported in December, pulled their healthy fruit salad because of slow sales.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that individuals substitute mono and polyunsaturated fats for saturated fats, and consume as little trans fat as possible as part of a healthful diet.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Frescata sandwiches at Wendy's

Wendy's will begin national television advertising next week for a new line of deli-style sandwiches they're calling Frescata sandwiches.

The sandwiches will feature "high quality meats and distinctive sauces" served on artisan bread that will be baked fresh daily in Wendy's restaurants. The Frescata sandwiches are:
  • Frescata Club: Slices of black forest ham and roasted turkey, topped with bacon, mayonnaise, tomatoes and Romaine lettuce, served on artisan bread.

  • Roasted Turkey with Basil Pesto: Slices of roasted turkey topped with basil pesto spread, Romaine and roasted red peppers, served on artisan bread.

  • Black Forest Ham & Swiss (pictured): Slices of ham topped with Swiss cheese, honey mustard sauce, tomatoes and Romaine lettuce, served on artisan bread.

  • Roasted Turkey with Swiss: Slices of roasted turkey, topped with Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, tomatoes and Romaine lettuce, served on artisan bread.

"This opens up a whole new menu category for us, and gives our customers more choices and more reasons to visit Wendy's," said Ian Rowden, EVP and chief marketing officer.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Wendy's new salads

Wendy's has introduced three new salads. They are part of Wendy's Garden Sensations line of salads that was originally introduced in 2002. They are (as pictured top to bottom):

The Caesar Chicken Salad with romaine lettuce, chunks of chicken breast, grape tomatoes, shredded Parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing and garlic croutons for a total of 500 calories, 34 grams of fat and 20 grams of carbohydrates.

The Southwest Taco Salad has Wendy's Chili, shredded cheddar cheese, and diced tomatoes over mixed greens, served with Ancho Chipotle Ranch dressing and tortilla strips and sour cream. It has 700 calories, 41 grams of fat, and 51 grams of carbs.

The Spinach Chicken Salad has romaine lettuce and baby spinach topped with chicken, chopped egg and grape tomatoes. It comes with sweet and sour bacon dressing and garlic croutons served on the side. It is the low(er) fat offering with 450 calories, 16 grams of fat and 42 grams of carbs.

For the sake of comparison, Wendy's single hamburger and medium fries (combo #1) has 870 calories, 41 grams of fat (same as the Chicken Caesar Salad), and 95 grams of carbs.

All three salads retail for $4.19.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

BK's value menu is back

As we reported late last year, Burger King has been test marketing its first value menu since 2003 and is now rolling it out nationwide. The value menu has 10 items ranging in price from $1 to $1.39.

The 7 items priced at $1 are Whopper Jrs., four-piece chicken tenders, small fries or onion rings, side salads, 16-ounce soft drinks and apple pies.

BK had trouble with their value menu from '99 to '03 when people stopped buying their more expensive and profitable menu items. But with well established discount menus at Wendy's and McDonald's they really don't have a choice.

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Arby's touts 'natural' chicken

Arby's announced today that they'll be serving '100% all-natural chicken' in an effort to serve "chicken that truly tastes like chicken" with "the first and only complete product line made with all-natural chicken" in the fast food industry. They will promote their 'natural chicken' line with TV ads featuring comedienne Joan Rivers and wrestler Hulk Hogan.

In their press release, Arby's uses the following line to prove its chicken is more natural than its competitors: "Other leading fast food companies offer chicken breast sandwiches with up to 29.3 percent of solutions made of various elements including water, seasoning (salt, spices and spice extract), oil, modified food starch, sodium phosphates." That list of ingredients is lifted exactly from McDonald's ingredients listing for their chicken breast fillet.

But Arby's never explicitly states that their chicken is completely free of these other ingredients other than describing it as "100% all-natural chicken." I wasn't convinced so I referred to Arby's own ingredients listing and found this: "Arby's Natural Chicken Tenders: Seasoned with salt, hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, flavor contains less than 2% (autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, enzyme modified egg yolk, thiamine hydrochloride)."

That doesn't sound like 100% all-natural chicken to me!

For the sake of comparison, I've listed the ingredients for Wendy's and Burger King's chicken below (McDonald's is above, exactly as it appeared in Arby's press release, and by the way, I've got to say that it is 'enlightening' to know that McDonald's chicken is only 70.7% chicken!)

Wendy's: Chicken Breast with Rib Meat: water, modified potato starch, seasoning (salt, flavor, maltodextrin, modified corn starch, contains less than 2% of citric acid, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, chicken broth, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, soy sauce solids. [wheat, soybeans, salt], yeast extract), sodium phosphate.

Burger King: Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning (Maltodextrin, Salt, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, Spices, Natural Flavors, Onion Powder, Modified Corn Starch, Chicken Fat, Chicken Powder, Chicken Broth, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, Citric Acid, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Dehydrated Garlic, and Artificial Flavors.), Modified Corn Starch, Soybean Oil, Salt, Sodium Phosphates.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bush speaks at Wendy's HQ

President Bush promoted his health care plan in a speech at Wendy's headquarters in Dublin, Ohio today. He praised Wendy's for allowing their employees to use the new, controversial 'health savings accounts.' [WLWT-TV]


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Wendy's brings back 99 cent menu

Wendy's did some experimenting with their 'value menu' pricing recently. They had a long list of items with value prices ranging up to $1.39. But apparently they've decided that they had it right the first time. They've returned to the simplicity of the 99-cent menu. Wendy's was the first fast food chain to offer a value menu and its popularity spawned the industry-wide trend.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Fast food's 'holiday' references

The controversy over "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" seems to have really heated up this year. I actually got invited to a "I'll call it a Christmas Party if I Want To" party! thrown by someone who said they're sick of all the "religious correctness." Many people are being careful not to offend; many of the 'Christmas' cards I got this year did not mention Christmas at all. And of course there's been boycotts against many retailers who've been accused by Christian groups of not including specific Christmas references in their stores, websites, and holiday marketing.

With this in mind, I decided to take a look at some fast food restaurants' web sites today, with Christmas only a day and a half away, and see what sort of 'holiday' references I might find.

The following sites had no mention of the holiday season whatsoever: Burger King, Carls Jr., Chick-fil-a, Church's Chicken, Del Taco, In-N-Out, KFC, Long John Silver's, McDonald's, Panera, and Taco Bell.

One thing about that list really surprised me. I was surprised that Chick-fil-a didn't have a "Merry Christmas" on their site, since they promote themselves as a Christian company every week by keeping their restaurants closed on Sunday.

I didn't see Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza mentioned specifically anywhere, but here are some holiday references I did find:

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Man accused of fast food scam

This fast food scam caught my attention not because of its similarity to extortion scams like the 'Wendy's chili finger' incident, but because the suspect wasn't out for money, just free food....apparently a lot of it. The alleged scammer weighs 500 pounds.

George Jolicoeur, 33, was arrested yesterday in Siminole County, Florida on "suspicion of scamming fast-food restaurants out of large amounts of milk shakes and tacos," according to WKMG-TV. Evidently, Jolicoeur would call or visit restaurants posing as a police officer or firefighter and ask for a refund saying there was hair in his food.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fast food flight mile cups a hot ticket

If you're up to it, a bit of dumpster diving behind a Wendy's restaurant could yield some free air travel. A promotional partnership between Wendy's and AirTran airlines has resulted in people doing just that. One pair collected 330 cups behind two Manhattan Wendy's which was more than enough for 2 free flights. The cups (for 20- or 32-ounce soft-drinks) have coupons on the side for frequent flyer miles with AirTrans. 64 coupons equals a free flight anywhere AirTran flies. Predictably the cup coupons can now be found for sale on ebay. [USA Today]


Wendy's abandons healthy options

In a move that casts doubt on the future of healthy fast food, Wendy's has pulled the fruit salad from the menu at all their North American stores. The move is a result of disappointing sales. But I don't think this comes as a surprise to Wendy's or anyone else for that matter: the American consumer has spoken and enormous servings with high calorie and fat content is what sells. The fast food companies had to prove it though. I'm betting they new sales of healthy items would be poor, but after a period of poor sales they can say they tried. Wendy's fruit cup was available for 10 months.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Where's the beef for fingertip tipster?

When Anna Ayala claimed to find a finger in her Wendy's chili in March, Wendy's damage control team offered a $100,000 reward for information about the fraud. Now, Mike Casey, the man who claims he blew the case wide open for Wendy's (he employed the man who lost the finger and Ayala's husband) says he hasn't seen a dime of the reward.

Casey says, "I did what they wanted and they offered it, so I think I have it coming." And Wendy's says they're still trying to determine whether or not Casey is the tipster.

Ayala faces up to nearly 10 years in state prison when sentenced Nov. 2. Her husband faces up to 13 years behind bars. [AP]

UPDATE 9/28: Mike Casey will split the reward with an anonymous tipster. [CNN]


Wendy's prez quits

Wendy's International Inc. President Richard Mueller suddenly resigned from the troubled fast-food chain Monday in what analysts believe signals sluggish sales and waning support within the Wendy's franchise community. more @ MarketWatch


Friday, September 09, 2005

Couple pleads guilty in Wendy's case

SAN JOSE, California -- A Nevada couple pleaded guilty Friday to all charges related to planting a human fingertip in a bowl of Wendy's chili in a scheme to extort money from the fast food restaurant chain.

Anna Ayala, 39, and Jaime Placencia, 43, pleaded guilty to conspiring to file a false claim and attempted grand theft. The Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc. claimed the scheme cost it $2.5 million in lost sales because of bad publicity. Ayala faces up to nearly 10 years in state prison when sentenced November 2.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fast-food chains try going small

Two of the biggest burger chains -- Wendy's and Burger King -- are developing restaurants with smaller kitchens and seating areas that operate profitably in small towns, cost less to build and fit into cheaper parcels of land. Popeye's is looking to follow suit, and even Applebee's, a sit-down restaurant, is looking to reduce square footage in rural area restaurants. YUM! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, A&W and Long John Silver's) hasn't started downsizing there restaurants per-se, but they're accomplishing the same thing by putting mulitple restaurants in one location. [AP]

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Choosing the right wine to go with your fast food

How about a Leonesse Cellars 2003 white riesling with your Taco Bell Quesadilla? Or "the flowery, almost perfumelike nose of Thornton's 2004 Viognier" with KFC's Original Recipe? Vick Knight has these and other suggestions in his article in San Diego's North County Times. Knight says,"Wendy's old fashioned rectangular hamburgers and Arby's roast beef sandwiches both benefit from red wines. I'd recommend Falkner Winery's 2003 Luscious Lips," and "those who like their pizza with a glass of wine should find that Domino's Pepperoni Pizza (double pepperoni and extra cheese, please) goes well with Wilson Creek's 2001 sangiovese."

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Pork chops, yogurt and combos

No, not pork chops and yogurt together. Just some new menu items from Wendy's, Hardee's and Krystal:
  • Wendy's has added a low-fat, strawberry-flavored yogurt cup with granola to its menu; the 6.85-ounce yogurt with granola is $1.29.
  • Hardee's has announced a new addition to line of Biscuit sandwiches, the Grilled Pork Chop Biscuit which features a grilled, basted pork chop on a Hardee's "Made From Scratch Biscuit", and is available for a limited time at participating Hardee's restaurants for $2.69.
  • And Krystal has introduced a combo sampler for those who might have trouble making a decision. The new Krystal Sampler Combo features the Krystal Hamburger, the Krystal Chik and the Chili Cheese Pup.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005


About 25 percent of chicken consumed in the United States is eaten in fast-food restaurants – up from 17 percent ten years ago, according to new data from the National Chicken Council. And that figure may climb even further with these brand new chicken menu items:
  • Burger King will roll out BK Chicken Fries, its answer to McDonald's and Wendy's chicken strips. BK already features chicken in theirTenderCrisp chicken sandwiches and meal-sized salads.
  • Wendy's will promote a Monterey Ranch chicken sandwich next month as a limited time offer. Wendy's currently offers Homestyle chicken strips and Chicken Temptations sandwiches and has mentioned the possibility of flavored chicken strips as well as a line of deli-style sandwiches which will have a chicken variety.
  • McDonald's is introducing 3 new chicken sandwiches: the Classic, Ranch BLT, and Club. This adds to their existing chicken menu items: Chicken Selects, Chicken McNuggets, and their Premium Salads. (Note: From August 11 to 14, McDonald’s will be handing out Premium Chicken Sandwich menus featuring three coupons (one for each sandwich) in participating restaurants nationwide while supplies last. The coupons offer a free medium drink and medium fry with the purchase of a Premium Chicken Sandwich. McDonald’s national advertising campaign launches August 2.)
  • Church's Chicken has announced the launch of its spicy bone-in chicken and chicken tenders which will be available starting July 25th. The 'heat' will be supplied by a mix of jalapeno, cayenne, chili, black and white pepper. Church's introduction of spicy chicken is an attempt to take on former sister company Popeye's in the spicy fried chicken field.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fast food & viral marketing

Fast food outlets are increasingly turning to 'viral marketing' to promote their brand. Recently Long John Silver's unveiled, a website featuring a film about a guy with a best friend who is a 6 foot tall shrimp. Hardee's has with extended videos of their infamous Paris Hilton burger ad. We wrote about Wendy's viral 'squares' last week. And the viral site that started it all (at least for fast food) was Burger King's Subservient Chicken.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Fast food stocks down after mad cow news

The beef industry was quick to reassure the public following the announcement of a the first confirmed US case of mad cow disease last week, but fast food company stocks responded negatively nonetheless. Shares of McDonald's [MCD] and Wendy's [WEN] stock were both down close to 1% on Friday.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Wendy's 'smart square' viral marketing

If you haven't seen it yet, Wendy's latest spokesman is a square. Taking the shape of the chain's burger patties, the new spokesman in the cartoon ads leads the mass of circles (the other guys' burgers) to enlightenment. The viral ad campaign is featured on Wendy's 'good to be square' website. I'd give the 'square' two thumbs up, but Wendy's has probably had enough of body part references lately.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Who owns 'fast casual'?

The big boys of fast food are fully invested in what has come to be known as 'fast casual' restaurants. Although it isn't shouted from the mountain tops, its no secret who owns who: the Baja Fresh Mexican Grill chain is owned by Wendy's and the Qdoba Mexican Grill chain was purchased by Jack in the Box in 2003. McDonald's owns both Boston Market and Chipotle.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Fast food poll: Wendy's is most popular

According to a new poll by Zogby International, "nearly one-in-four (23%) American adults call fast food chain Wendy’s their favorite, with half as many preferring runners-up Taco Bell and McDonald’s (12% apiece). Burger King trailed McDonald’s and Taco Bell at 11%. Rounding out the field were KFC at 8%, and Jack in the Box and Long John Silver’s, at 3% each. Three-in-ten (29%) respondents say they either prefer no fast food restaurant or a chain not offered on the list."

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Wendy's CEO talks about the finger hoax

In a USA Today interview, Wendy's CEO Jack Schuessler discusses why he suspected from the outset that the woman who claimed to find part of a finger in her serving of Wendy's chili was perpetrating a hoax:
"We go through so much care in our food supply with tracking systems at the manufacturer level. Within a day, we could track back and know that there were no accidents in any of the plants; and that, if there were, the whole plant would have to be shut down. We polygraphed all of our employees at the unit and did visual inspections to see if they were missing any digits."


Saturday, May 21, 2005

McDonald's headed 24/7

Following Wendy's lead with late-night operations and possibly recent studies, McDonald's is encouraging it's franchisees to keep their stores open 24 hours. Presently about 20% of McDonald's stores are open all night. As an incentive to the other 80%, McDonald's is offering rent rebates to operators. [CNN Money]

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wendy's new ad direction

First there was "Where's the beef," then there was Wendy's founder Dave Thomas as pitchman. But since then Wendy's has not had a memorable advertising message. Wendy's is hoping that has changed with a new series of ads (unrelated but timely to the recent finger fiasco). The new slogan: "Do what tastes right." The ads will be in a variety of styles and focus on specific menu items as well as the restaurants image as a whole. [Business Week & Yahoo]


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Customer satisfaction ratings

This year's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) ratings are out. Papa Johns came out on top, McDonald's at the bottom. Here they are with their scores and the number of points they've gone up or down since the last survey.
  1. Papa John's - 78 up 2
  2. Wendy's - 75 up 1
  3. Little Caesar - 74 up 1
  4. Taco Bell - 72 up 4
  5. Burger King - 71 up 3
  6. Domino's - 71 down 4
  7. Pizza Hut - 71 down 4
  8. KFC - 69 down 2
  9. McDonald's - 62 down 2
The ACSI "is a uniform and independent measure of household consumption experience. A powerful economic indicator, the ACSI tracks trends in customer satisfaction and provides valuable benchmarking insights of the consumer economy." It is produced at the University of Michigan.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Owner of Wendy's chili finger found

At the outset of the finger-fiasco, Wendy's offered a $100,000 reward for information on the source of the finger. A call to Wendy's tip line has led to the finger's owner, an acquaintance of the husband of the woman who claimed to find it, Anna Ayala. Reuters reports:
the acquaintance of Ayala's husband, who lives in Nevada, lost the finger in an industrial accident in December and was cooperating with authorities.
The news comes on the day Wendy's starts their free Frostys weekend, an effort to rebuild customer confidence in Wendy's after the weeks of confusion surrounding the source of the finger.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Free Wendy's Frostys this weekend

Coming off the whole finger fiasco in California, Wendy's will be offering free Junior Frostys this weekend (May 13-15) at all US locations. No purchase is required. Wendy's held this promotion previously in the San Francisco area to help lure customers back after the finger incident. Wendy's estimates it will give away 14 million Frostys.


Saturday, April 30, 2005

Highfields acquires stake in Wendy's

It's the second time this week an investor has disclosed buying a large amount of Wendy's shares. Boston-based Highfields Capital Management LP said in a federal regulatory filing Thursday that it bought 6.9 million shares of the hamburger chain in March. On Tuesday, Pershing Square Capital Management LP in New York said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had acquired stock and options that could give it a 9.3 percent stake in Wendy's, and that it may seek major changes at the fast-food chain.


Friday, April 29, 2005

Finger finder eager to face charges

The woman arrested last week after claiming she found a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili told a judge Tuesday she was eager to return to California to face charges.

Anna Ayala, 39, waived extradition during a brief hearing before the same judge who issued a warrant for police to search Ayala's suburban Las Vegas home April 6. Records from that raid have remained sealed.


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Woman arrested in Wendy's chili/finger hoax

A woman who said she bit into a severed human finger while spooning into fast-food chili at a San Jose Wendy's last month was arrested after investigators found inconsistencies in her story of the gruesome discovery, officials said Friday.

Anna Ayala, 39, was arrested Thursday night at her Las Vegas home on a charge of attempted grand larceny, including a penalty enhancement for inflicting more than $2.5 million in losses on Wendy's. She also was charged with grand larceny in an alleged real-estate swindle not related to the Wendy's case.

The arrest ends a public-relations nightmare for the national burger chain, which saw sales plunge at least 30 percent at its San Jose-area franchises after the March 22 report.


Saturday, April 16, 2005

"Texas" Burgers

Fast-food chains have created regional burgers named after the Lone Star State:

McDonald's: Took note that Texans preferred burgers with mustard, onions and pickles and created the "Texas Homestyle Burger."
Wendy's: "Texas Double Cheeseburger" with two 2-ounce patties, mustard, onion, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes.
Burger King: "Texas Double Whopper," a traditional Double Whopper with mustard and jalapeños – no ketchup, no mayo.

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