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Nov 21, 2008 11:55 AM

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'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 Food

          "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.

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                    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?