10 Facts About Wendy's Fast Food Chain
Wendy is Real
Fast food mascots are always a good topic of conversation. McDonald's has a red-haired clown. Burger King has a king who looks like King Randor from He-Man. Wendy's has a little ginger-haired girl with freckles.
At first though why have a little girl as a mascot? Why name the restaurant "Wendy's?"
It turns out that Wendy is not a figment of Dave Thomas' imagination or a clever marketing ploy. Wendy is actually Dave Thomas' daughter.
Now that Dave has since passed on, Melinda Lou "Wendy" Thomas-Morse now owns Wendy's - the restaurant her father named after her.
The "Where's the Beef?" Commercials were a Smash Hit
This is one of the most successful ad campaigns in company history. Clara Peller and some other elderly ladies would go around and examine the competition's burgers.
They notice that the competition has very huge bread with not much beef in them. This gives customers the illusion they are getting a big burger when in fact they are not.
In contrast to the competition, Wendy's burgers are larger than the buns as they are square and you can clearly see the big juicy patties at first glance.
The commercials were such a hit that Clara was actually a guest celebrity in WWF's Wrestlemania 2.
Wendy's Chili is Made from Unsold Burger Patties
In order for Wendy's to reduce food waste and in order for Wendy's to afford to sell fresh patties all the time, Wendy's came up with the chili so it could recycle unsold burger patties.
The burger patties that have been dried up are re-hydrated using a steamer. They are then mashed up and stored in refrigeration for use the next day.
Some people are okay with this as the also use leftovers for their own chili recipes while others are revolted at the idea of using leftover hamburger meat.
The World-Famous Baconator was only Introduced in 2007
The Baconator is a sandwich which contains half a pound of beef with six strips of of crispy Applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup.
It was launched back in April 2007 through the initiative of new CEO Kerri Anderson.
It has since become one of the more popular items in the menu. The Baconator is in the league of famous sandwiches such as the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder and the Whopper.
Wendy's Pioneered the Value Menu
Dave Thomas' principles for business were simple - value for money, treating the customers right and providing great tasting food.
This philosophy helped usher in the value menu.
While other chains only thought of discounting one or two items, Wendy's wanted you to have a variety of choices and to be able to combine the items into a meal.
Wendy's officially launched the value menu on October 1989 as a 99-cent menu. Through the years, the value menu has included various offerings such as burgers, chili, soda and salad..
Fresh not Frozen
Burgers in rivals McDonald's and Burger King flash freeze their burgers before shipping them to their outlets.
Wendy's in contrast, gets fresh shipments of beef and their square patties are made in-store. They also use a different supply chain which costs more than what is used by the competition but guarantees a fresher product.
Any left-over hamburger patties are turned into chili.
Wendy's claims that you can taste the difference between fresh and frozen beef.
Wendy's Pioneered the Salad Bar in a Fast Food Chain
Long before the wellness craze hit fast food chains, Wendy's already had a salad bar.
Wendy's was ahead of its time with the addition of the salad bar all the way back in 1979.
This option gave the more health conscious segments of the population an option besides the usual burgers, fries and chili.
The ingredients were cut fresh in the premises and were kept cool by a refrigeration system.
Founder Dave Thomas Actually Worked for KFC
The founders of two of the world's biggest fast food chains actually worked together at one point.
Wendy's founder Dave Thomas worked for Hobby House,a chicken chain. The Colonel went around the country to franchise his recipe and Hobby House agreed to convert their restaurants into KFC's.
Thomas worked his way up the food chain and is credited for innovating the KFC bucket. This was a creative way to encourage a larger volume of carry out chicken. He also convinced Harland Sanders to appear in his own ads.
Thomas was so good at what he did that he was sent to revive struggling franchises. Thomas parlayed this into $1.5 million and used the capital to put up his own chain of burger restaurants.
Dave Thomas was a High School Dropout
Dave Thomas never finished High School but he never let the lack of educational attainment stop him from being successful.
Dave was a brilliant man who came up with unique ideas and helped revolutionize the fast food industry.
He has also become an icon of the industry in the way the King and Ronald McDonald are by appearing in countless commercials and advertising media.
Dave would cross a high school diploma off his bucket list when he got his GED from Coconut Creek High School in 1993.
The Frosty is an OG Item
One of the most iconic deserts is the Wendy's Frosty.
It has been around since the chain first opened.
It was a soft-serve dairy desert that had the consistency of a milkshake.
The original Frosty was chocolate flavored.
What many do not know is that it was not purely chocolate. Dave Thomas mixed both vanilla and chocolate to make the chocolate Frosty. This was because he felt an all-chocolate desert would be too sweet. He wanted something more subtle.
In 2006, a vanilla Frosty was introduced. This was nearly four decades after the original chocolate Frosty was introduced.