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Waaaay better than fast food? Wendy's?

I haven't been to a Wendy's in a few years....but I am confused by their current slogan: "Waaaay better than fast food?"

Since when is Wendy's not fast food? It seems like they are doing some different things than other chains (like using all fresh beef, and grilling burgers to order), but I guess I am curious where people draw the line between fast food and non-fast-food.

For example, is In-N-Out Burger fast food? I would say yes....it's not pre-made food, like McDonalds, but I would still categorize this as fast food.

My question is not rhetorical - I'm curious to hear various people's opinions on what "fast food" is, and which restaurants would not be categorized that way.

Any thoughts?

Dave MP

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  1. It's fast food. I think what they should have said was "way better than fast food should be." What they seem to be trying to imply is "Way better than OTHER fast food," but legally they wouldn't be allowed to say that, so this is what they came up with. It's dumb and doesn't make me want to go there any more than before the ad slogan.

    1. Yeah, it's fast food. But to be fair, given a choice between any of the Big Three burger chains, I'm probably more likely to go to Wendy's than McD or BK. Although my experience has always been that Wendy's is The Little Girl Who Had A Little Curl of all fast food chains.

      1. I had the strangest experience at a Wendy's recently. Usually if I eat Wendy's, it's takeout or the drive thru window. But a few weeks ago, I went with a co-worker and ate inside the restaurant.

        While sitting at the table eating, one of the employees was walking around offering to refill people's drinks, asking if they needed anything else. I've never seen that at a fast food restaurant. (granted I don't usually eat at fast food restaurants)

        Anyway, yes Wendy's is fast food. But I think it's better than McDonald's or Burger King.

        1 Reply
        1. re: alliebear

          Maybe it's a southern thing but in addition to having my soda refilled at lunch, I've had coffee refilled at breakfast at quite few McD's.

        2. They probably should have put the word 'other' in there since it is fast food.

          However, based on your response, I'm thinking it is an effective ad. People who haven't been to Wendy's in a while might go back to see if things changed.

          Do they still have the salad bar? I really used to like their salad bar.

          The definition of Fast Food to me is a chain, usually national, where there is mainly set menu with limited options and there is no table service and orders are placed at a counter or a drive-up window. By that definition,Wendy's is Fast Food.

          While the same delivery time might happen at a taco truck or local deli, however the personal touch there removes it from the category Fast Food.

          However, if Wendy's uses one of the definitions in Websters ... then it isn't Fast Foodhttp://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fa...

          "2 : designed for ready availability, use, or consumption and with little consideration given to quality or significance"

          1. I haven't been to a Wendy's in over a year, (or any fast food, it's a health thing), but I doubt they are grilled to order. I think they are assembled to order, put together with whatever ingredients that the customer chooses. Waaay back when in the 80's, they had an ad campaign called hot and juicy, and they were. Now they are a cold shadow of their former self, being neither hot, nor juicy, the patties are pre-cooked and slapped together.

            10 Replies
            1. re: James Cristinian

              they were always assembled to order, trust me, i worked there in the late 80's. Burgers were "on hold" in various cooking stages on the grill, and when they became too cooked, became part of the bucket of meat that was destined for the chili..sorry. a few chicken fillers were cooked per hour and held in some weird drawer thingie.

              They did have the salad bar back then though.

              And IMHO, Wendy's used to have more variety for more people. They have no fishburger, no veggie burger or veggie sandwich (like their long gone greek pita wrap thing), and have ditched the spring mix salad (not sure what was wrong with that one)

              1. re: im_nomad

                I can remember when Wendy's chicken filet sandwich (fried) was really good. That was a long time ago though. I remember the salad bar too, and also when they added things at the dinner hours like make your own burrito too. There was an ad on chowhound very recently advertising some kind of mushroom burger. Just because it was on this site did not make me want to rush out and try it. Would rather ask my fellow hounds first. Anyone try that new burger?

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  when i worked there, the fried chicken sandwich was made way ahead of time, and held in that drawer until someone ordered it. They always touted how quickly you could get your order...they'd have been better off widening that time frame so that the items could actually be made to order, instead of being assembled. It might also, let up a little on the pressure for staff. It was not a good place to work.

                  As for the salad bar, that one was humourous, there were people who used to go up there with their burger wrappers to make a salad, seemingly thinking that because it was out there, it was a free for all. The fact that they didnt' have a salad plate should have tipped them off.

                  1. re: givemecarbs

                    Yeah, I tried it.


                    Partly, because of this thread. The only thing I've had for years is the Frosty ordered at the drive thru. Haven't had the food for a while and was curious to see if it changed much.

                    Partly because I like to support advertisers who help pay the bills for sites I enjoy like Chowhound. So, if I'm going to eat at a fast food joint, and Wendy's is one of the choices, I'll be more likely to throw some business that way.

                    There's not that many Wendy's in my area. Other than when I was working near a Wendy's and that salad bar was one of the better nearby choices ... that particular one in Walnut Creek was actually quite good ... the only thing I'll buy at Wendy's is the frosty.

                    THE FROSTY

                    I'm a big fan of the original Frosty. It is a the best of two worlds in one cup - soft serve and shake. You start eating it with a spoon and it gets melty giving you an icy chocolate milk toward the end.

                    Also, they have that Jr size so if craving a shake, it is only 160 calories and under a dollar. While there are a few additives in it, it uses sugar and corn syrup but NOT HFCS ... ok Wendy ... for this item.

                    However, I haven't had a Frosty in a few years and its been about six years since I've actually eaten food at a Wendy's. It was only when they introduced the Frosty Shake that I stopped by it recently. It was ok, but doesn't give me the Frosty thrill.

                    This trip was a chance to see if they screwed with my original Frosty. They did, actually, but it improved it. IIRC, the original Frosty wasn't reeeealy, chocolate. It had a hint of chocolate but was pale. Since the intro of the vanilla frosty (don't like, tastes artificial), they upped the chocolate on the Frosty. I liked it. It still gives me my Frosty fix. I would order it again.

                    Though ... I do miss the flavor ambiguity of the original Frosty ... and IIRC ... it was a little icier in a good way ... less like a soft serve ... more slushy shake.

                    THE MUSHROOM SWISS BURGER

                    There was a new person who wasn't quite trained. So it took four tries to request a mushroom swiss burger before she called the manager over to help her.

                    The first time, I thought maybe I mumbled. The second time I spoke clearly. The third time I spoke louder and slower .... MUSHROOM... SWISS ... BURGER. The fourth time I pointed to the sign in back of her and said "it is the burger on the big banner covering the restaurant"

                    Still a blank look. The manager came over. There's a reason for this part of the story.

                    So finally, they find the button on the register. I'm planning to watch the action at the grill while waiting for the order. They punch the button. I order a jr Frosty. they punch the button. I hand over my money and before I got change ... a 10 second financial exchange ... the burger and frosty are on the counter.

                    Soooo ... there's truth to the new advertising slogan ... though not the way most people interpret it ... it IS waaaay better than fast food ... it isn't fast food ... it is jet-speed food ... it is food quicker than a speeding bullet ... it is magic ...seriously, they should get Barbara Eden on their commercials dressed as a genie, blinking the minute a person orders and handing over the bag.

                    Abour the burger ... well, it is a Wendy's burger ... with mushrooms, bacon,Swiss and American cheese on it ... but not enough mushrooms ... and too much bacon ... four slices.

                    I get back to the car, open the burger ... no mushroom. Given I had to ask for the burger five times, I figure the wrong button was pushed.

                    I go back. I say 'wrong burger, no mushrooms'. and open it up to show the manager. She peers down into it and after a beat says ... there they are. This particular Wendy's seems to have a romatic mood lighting thing going and without my glasses I'm not seeing it, so I take the manager's word.

                    Back in the car. Pull out the glasses and in the bright sunlight I locate the seven thin mushroom slices ... under the four slices of bacon.

                    That being said, the mushrooms could be tasted though the bacon obviously dominated. It could be that the mushroom sauce was where the flavor was coming from. Even the Swiss flavor came through. Frankly, if I were Wendy's, I'd drop the bacon on this, up the mushrooms ... or at least decrease the bacon to two slices ... or change the name to bacon Swiss burger with mushroom sauce.

                    The bun was disappointing, not bad, but not great. That burger looked nothing like the ad picture ... think half the height with the only visible items before lifting the bun being the burger and bacon ... that bun TASTES exactly how it looks in the ad which is 'meh'

                    THE REVISIT

                    The good is that there is a choice of options with the combo meals in addition to fries ... mandarin orange cup, baked potato, side salad, ceasar, salad, chili.There might be more, since I didn't notice some of the sides at that location that are on the website. The beverage choices include bottled water.

                    I might give one of Wendy's salads a try since they did a decent job with the salad bar. They use Marzetti's salad dressing which I like. The chicken fillet seems to have 1/4 the junk McDonald's has in the nutritional info, so I'm curiious to see if, unlike McDonald's, it tastes like actual chicken.

                    They have a decent looking value menu which includes three wraps.There was a mostly positive post on the double stack

                    So while I'd never order the Swiss mushroom burger again ... or actually walk in the door ... I'd give some of the other menu options a try if I wanted drive-thru fast food and had a choice of a bunch of nearby fast food joints. The Wendy's drive-thru near me is open 24 hours ... so that could factor in.

                    If you sign up for the mailing list, there's a dollar off coupon

                    1. re: rworange

                      I just looked at the site, I wonder why the menu items are so different between US and Canada?

                      1. re: im_nomad

                        Other than a different mushroom combination ... a better choice and name IMO ... bacon mushroom melt... or something like that ... that is one slooooow site ... only a few of the sides were different.

                        That was a better idea ... bacon, cheddar, mushrooms ... drop the lettuce and tomato.When I pulled back the bun, it surprised me and I thought 'what's that there for?

                        It's not like it is going to really improve the nutritional value ... or flavor.

                        While I've noticed the Wendy's ads on the site, I didn't notice the mushroom burger, so I ordered it without being aware of the details. I don't even think on the banner they mentioned the bacon. I was just expecting cheese and mushrooms on the burger ... more mushrooms ... easier to find mushrooms.

                      2. re: rworange

                        Whoa rworange you took a hit for the team! I'm a frosty fan too. I always ask for a straw along with the spoon for the same reason.

                    2. re: im_nomad

                      I worked there in the 80s too. The "chili meat" buckets still gross me out 20 years later, thinking about them. I don't know how anyone can eat the chili there.

                      1. re: im_nomad

                        Somehow, they seemed to taste better back then. I want your opinion. Am I right, wrong, or just have selective memory?

                    3. While I have no intentions of trying it, the ad for the "Mushroom Swissburger - it's not just a tasty hamburger!!! it's a culinary masterpiece!!!" is as ridiculous a piece of hype as I've ever seen.

                      AND perhaps they're claiming to be "wayyyy better" (better being defined, apparently, by the number of y's in WAYYYY) than other fast food cains, they are, in fact, fast food and I seriously doubt that they are better in any WAY than McD's or BK. Someone mentions below that their sandwiches are "assembled to order" - is this a glowing recommendation? To be fair, I don't think that Wendy's is worse than other chains, but it isn't any better.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sophie fox

                        i think many fast food chains are guilty of over selling themselves. I think about that McDonald's commercial with the couple in the fancy restaurant and she proceeds to order , in essense, a McD's burger including the box, as if McD's is somehow "gourmet".

                        They need to call a spade a spade.

                      2. Oh I bust a gut laughing when I first heard that inane slogan. Wendy's is the *definition* of fast food.

                        I used to love their grilled chicken sandwich, always on a kaiser with mustard and tomato. Last time I tried it—after returning from Texas and craving one thanks to Chik-Fil-A's heavenly incarnation (and my fast food intake is 1-2/year btw)) I had one bite, spit it out and threw the rest away. It was that horrid. Can't speak for the burgers as it's been years since I had one—probably when I too worked there, in the early 90s in my case.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Jasz

                          You should take a look at the ingredient list in that heavenly sandwich. Better cooking through chemistry..

                          There is only one Chik-a-fil in my area and it is far away from here, so it is kind of moot for me.

                          I was interested in Wendy's grilled chicken since it has less junk in it than McDonald's which doesn't even taste like meat to me.

                          Ordered the grilled chicken wrap and was pleasantly surprised. In addition to a large piece of chicken, it was ... uh ... waaaay better than McDonald's chicken wrap.

                          Encouranged I ordered the mandarin chicken salad ... also waaaaay better than McDonalds. The chicken on its own still has that fast food chicken taste ... though, for me, it is edible, unlike McDonalds. Dressed up with everything, this is one nice Mandarin chicken salad. The thin crispy noodles are not hard to eat like most. There's a nice generous bag of slivered almonds. The dressing is tasty and all together it was tasty for a fast food salad.

                          Tried the spicy crispy wrap and was really surprised by the nice crunch on the coating. Good spice too. I moved on up and tried the value menu chicken sandwich and the chicken club. Both pretty good.

                          Being busy with the holidays and all i've been eating more fast food and since I was determined to revisit Wendy's ... I did.

                          The burger is better than I remembered. Other than being square, tasted pretty much like the Mcdonald's beef patty. The bun is a little more eggy. Don't have a preference between the two. It is better than the regular Jack in the Box bun and Burger King bun. Nice slice of white onion and crispy iceberg. The tomato was standard fast food issue. I think this is where McDonald's understands, that using quality tomatoes on a large scale and low proces isn't going to happen. The few items on McDonald's menu with tomato don't last long. Burger King gets away with tomatoes because that char flavor dominates everything ... that and a ton of mayo.

                          Fries are good, thicker cut and less oily than McDonald's. The serving is generous. I'm not a French fry person so it doesn't matter to me. I think though Wendy's has improved the fry, but it was so long since I last tried them, couldn't say.

                          Decent baked potato. I like the non-fried potato option. I'd probably pass on the lowfat sour cream and butter substitute. Both tasted good, but they are not my thing.

                          The Caesar side is more interesting than the regular side which just has lettuce, cucumbuer, shredded carrots and cherry tomatoes. Ranch dressing is good, but I like most of Marzetti's dressings

                          Wendy's ... which seems to have a thing for bacon ... has real bacon in addition to parmesian cheese, nice Marzetti garlic croutons and a good dressing for the Ceasar.

                          The only two things I didn't like was the coffee and the Jr. Bacon cheeseburger. Wendy's doesn't make a big deal about its coffee, so it doesn't get ordered as much, I'm guessing. It had the taste of something sitting around too long. I'd ask if the pot is fresh. The jr bacon cheeseburger had one skinny slice of bacon and the taste was lost. Also they should drop the iceburg in this.

                          Anyway, after all of that ... I'm still most likely to order the frosty. The doublstacker I'd order again. I like the Mandarin chicken salad, so I might order that if going for a fast food salad. The baked potato is back in my radar. And the Ceasar is something I'd get again. If I didn't care about eating deep fried food, I'd get their crispy chicken sandwich.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Although, same as you, I probably won't see another Chik-Fil-A sandwich as they don't have any locations in Canada, I was curious about your "better cooking through chemistry" comment. I'm guessing you're taking issue with some of the "dough conditioners" that are part of the bun but those are the same in pretty much all supermarket bread. It says the meat is 100% whole natural breast fillet and the veggies are veggies.

                            It sounds likes maybe Wendy's improved after my last experience 4 years ago. Good on them if that's the case. But they're still "fast food."

                            1. re: Jasz

                              No, I mean the Chik-a-Fil breast itself. They use flash so I can't copy and paste the long list of ... stuff ... in the grilled breast but it includes TBHQ (tert-Butylhydroquinone ... look it up, it's scary). What is scarier is that McDonald's has twice the list of preservatives and junk like that in it's chicken breast. I wish they'd preserve the chicken taste because it ain't there.

                              I just don't know why they do this. Put some salt and pepper on the breast, freeze it, cook it. Works in my kitchen. Why can't fast food vendors just do that?

                              1. re: rworange

                                Oh that's odd, I didn't see a list of stuff on the website's ingredients list. And an "eat better"-type book I'm reading said that they use real chicken breasts, not pressed or formed, that arrive raw at the restaurants where each piece is filleted and breaded by hand. You just got my curiosity up because I try to avoid preservative-filled "foods" whenever possible and thought Chick-fil-A was one of the good guys.

                                1. re: Jasz

                                  i'd link to it directly, but, as mentioned, it is a flash sight and the url doesn't change. It is weird to get to the ingredient list.

                                  From the menu link, click on classics. Then click on char-grilled chicken sandwich. there are three tabs just above the picture, the middle one is ingredients.

                                  If it any consolation, Chic-a-fil has fewer preservatives and more ingredients that are recongizable. There are about the same as Wendy's, maybe Wendy's has a tad fewer. Which is truly the direction Wendy's coudl take that would make them stand out. Drop the few preservatives they have and bill themselves as 100 % real food.

                                  The weird thing is that at all these fast food places the once constant is the burgers are beef and nothing but beef. Not one additive ... well, Wendy's adds salt. I think McDonald's set the bar with this. They never changed that.

                                  That was McDonald's big hook that got them started ... 100% beef. The good old days, were not so good. Back then, the meat was sometimes questionable at drive ins and diners.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Got it, thanks. Oh well. As I said, probably never going to see one again anyway. It's too bad as it was tasty and I think lower calories and fat than many other fast-food equivalents.

                        2. They don't use a grill...or are things in US different? If it doesn't have grill marks it's not a grill.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: AngelSanctuary

                            If there are grill marks, it doesn't mean it is cooked on a grill. Food services often sell meat with grill marks on them.

                            For the most part, in the US grilled usually just means it is cooked on a flat metal griddle and not coated and deep-fried. Flame grilled or char grilled means what you are talking about.

                          2. We stopped at Wendy's on our way back to town this weekend. I had a double with cheese and he had a spicy crispy chicken fillet.

                            The burger was actually very good. I ordered it without tomato (since fast food tomatoes are inevitably nasty). It was hot and juicy, much beefier than anything I've ever had at McD's. Decent amount of toppings without overdoing it.

                            SO liked his chicken, too. Coming off a bad experience he'd had a few days earlier at Hardees, he was wary. But he said it was obviously freshly fried and juicy breast meat.

                            Overall, the best fast food experience we've had in years.

                            1. I now prefer the Wendy's double stack to the McD double cheeseburger. 2 double stacks and the dollar fries is a pretty good meal for a little over 3 bucks. Might be my lunch tomorrow, I'm on the road.

                              1. "Fast food" is stuff from chain restaurants which are supposed to serve you food within 5 minutes or so, unless it's lunch time in an office building and you get a receipt to wait in the crowd for 20-30 minutes for your BK order...

                                A story my husband recalls fondly is the 25 minute wait he had with his mother and 2 siblings in a car at McDonald's; his mother called for the manager and scolded him with "you give fast food a bad name".

                                Pepin's "Fast Food My Way" uses the concept of serving great food quickly, just not on a commerical level.

                                1. My 2008 New Year's resolution was "no more fast food", and except for one desperate afternoon after a long funeral, I've been able to stick to it. But given a choice, I would go for Wendy's, since (at least the last time I dined at one sometime in 2007) the burger patties seem to have less chemical flavoring, the lettuce is whole leaf, not shredded, the rolls seem slightly (slightly) better, and the fries taste like actual potatoes.

                                  But I still feel nauseous about a half-hour after eating, same as for the other chains. I'm not patting myself on the back for eating sustainably, but cutting out fast food is a tiny step in the right direction. Right? Right?

                                  1. Wendy's is not much different than any other fast food restaurant. Although they supposedly make everything to order, I've received the past few orders I can remember lukewarm, and the product did not taste very fresh. Also, their portion size was very small.

                                    To be honest, I have not been to Wendy's in a year or more. I try to avoid fast food restaurants now. The apathetic staff, the stale food and big calories and excessive fat lead are all decisive. Lacking non fast food options, sure, W is better than McD or BK.

                                    On the flipside, I've had their fries and chili in the past, and both were a step above the fare at McD's and BK.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: NewDude

                                      they put the toppings on the sandwich "to order" but the meat/protein is basically just sitting there waiting for someone to order and eat it, it's not like they don't cook your burger until you order it, it wouldn't be "fast" food if they did it that way. The chicken and burgers are all made and kept warm/available all the time, thrown out once they have been sitting for too long.

                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                        Ewww. Just one more reason to avoid.

                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                          I had heard or read that the the ones that have been sitting for too long become chili.

                                          1. re: Rene

                                            That's correct. All the hamburgers that reach the "too done" stage to be served off the grill go into a big bucket. Those buckets go into the cooler and then those buckets are used the next morning to make the chili. It's disgusting, IMO.

                                      2. fast food is anything you don't cook yourself. Plus all fast food restaurants use a huge amount of MSG. I have horribly severe reactions from MSG so I have made it my buisiness to know what I am eating. Some folks can handle, msg others no. Head -aches dizzyness dehydration sleeplessness. confusion. Want to know more? email me stephenjferry@yahoo.com

                                        1. ahhh fast food! breakfast lunch and dinner of most of america. sad huh? I always try to avoid a situation where i have to eat fast food, but sometimes you are on the go and need something quick, i prefer BK if its around. if not, ill settle with mcdonalds. i really dont like it, you feel so gross after eating fast food! why can't get have chain fast food thats actually really really great for you, full of antioxidents and everything your body needs thats good!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: casualcat

                                            Most of america ? where did you read that ? All 3 meals ? Sounds a little over dramatic.
                                            get coffee...a yogurt parfait (bluberries adn strawberries). all have antioxidants. Get some eggs..which are a complete source of protein. A mcmuffin has like 300 calories and is pretty lean. What is the problem again ?

                                            1. re: rochfood

                                              McDonald's is ubiquitous. There is nowhere you can go in this country to get away from McDonald's. Casualcat is probably not exaggerating. I had McDonald's coffee recently and it was really good. I will definitely give their yogurt parfait a try soon. I have to go for those biscuits though over the muffin even though they are full of fat and calories. I just don't do it often. I really enjoy those biscuits once in a blue moon.

                                          2. While Wendy's -is- fast food, I agree with the commercial, that it's way better...But then again, I usually only get the cesar side salad (bacon bits, croutons, shredded parmesan on top of romaine for only $1) and the chicken nuggets. For me, a great, reasonably healthy lunch for $2.

                                            1. Come to think of it, most of my recent orders have been late at night. I think if you order during busy periods, especially weekday lunch hours, you'll get a fresher product. I'm actually getting hungry thinking about this place.

                                              Their fries, shakes and burgers are a half cut above BK and Mickey's, at least when the food is served reasonably fresh--when the restaurant is busy moving bodies through.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: NewDude

                                                the wendys i go to always grills their burgers fresh to order. i actually waited 5 minutes for them to cook my burger, and i was the only one in the stores.