French Fried: Behind Wendy’s New Batch

Until recently, the popular chain Wendy’s has served the typical fast food fries.  The old ones everyone is familiar with could be likened to those served at McDonald’s—slightly soggy (though Wendy’s were a tad crispier) and bland, unless accompanied by salt and some sort of dipping sauce.  Now, Wendy’s has released a new recipe which can be likened to that of Chick-Fil-A taste-wise; they are crispy and have a taste of their own, even without being smothered in sauce, although they are still sprinkled quite abundantly with salt.

As soon as I heard of this venture, I looked to my fellow field reporter Brian Siegfried, and we knew we must embark upon a quest for these new golden treats.  We set our sights on Wendy’s, but when we arrived we discovered that the Wendy’s we occupied did not yet carry the new fries.  So there we were stuck to munch on our soggy, salty fries, accompanied by Frosties, of course.  It was not until a week or so later that we had the chance to get our hands upon the new kind, but once we tasted the new batch, we were hooked. They aren’t the best fries in the fast food industry (that honor goes to Chick-fil-a), but as Brian put it, “they have a more potatoey taste – like we’re getting more out of our fries than before.”

The true reason behind this change, however delicious it may be, is the false pretense that these fries are a “healthy” alternative to the old bunch and its soggy fellows at McDonald’s, Burger King, and the like.  “Our brand position is all about real food, with authentic ingredients that you can understand,” claimed Denny Lynch, Wendy’s Senior Vice President of Communication.  So if ingredients are natural, they must also be healthy, right?  Well, these new fries are no healthier than their predecessors were.

The 100% Russet potato identification of the new fries is not a big variation at all—the old fries were still 100% potato, but a blend of several different kinds.  The bit of skin you see on the end of the fries solely claims that these fries are made of potatoes, which they always have been.  The calorie count remains about the same, although the old fries had 10 less at about 410 calories.  The big deception about these fries is their “now with sea salt” label.  There is no conspicuous difference between sea salt and table salt. In fact, the new fries have 150 more milligrams of sodium than the 350 found in the old fries. To put this amount into perspective, 500 milligrams of sodium is over one fifth of the suggested daily intake for that legendary 2,000 calorie diet.

Now for the fun part—if these “natural” ingredients are just the same old thing, how are they marketed so successfully?  Well, we Americans are pretty gullible when it comes to what we gobble down.  Hearing a television ad say that something is now “healthy” makes the product good enough to eat, though really, the whole thing is just a ruse to snatch up more customers.  Even “healthy” alternatives have joined the fight against our precious waistlines.  Fast food is never going to be healthy, natural or otherwise, so treat yourself every once in a while, but if you eat it every day, your nice figure is not going to stick around.

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