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Wendy's Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt ... or what In-N-Out fries should taste like.

Wendy's recently introduced "natural cut" fries, and to prove it they left on the skin. Read about it here: http://wendys.com/food/Product.jsp?fa...

Tried it today.

I must say, while I've never been a french fry snob -- as long as they're fried and sturdy enough to scoop up ketchup I'm generally happy -- I must say these were definitely some of the best fries I've had from a fast-food place.

It's not the McDonald's kind of fries, these are more substantial. Real potatoes, with skins, no trans fat oil, and sea salt. Good crunchy texture with a soft, pillowy center.

These are the types of fries I would imagine In-N-Out making if they could ever get their french fry production down right.

My only complaint with these new Wendy's fries is that they could use more sea salt. As I was chomping down on these I realized I started to detect (gasp!) a potato flavor.

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  1. Per the nutrition information on the link you provided, Wendy's uses bags of sliced frozen sliced potatoes with oil. Then fries them.

    In-N-Out uses fresh potatoes. Sliced in the store. Then fries them.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Cathy

      Therein lies the problem with In-N-Out ...

      1. re: Cathy

        I'm curious, where does Wendy's say they use frozen sliced potatoes with oil?

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Nutrition information on the link from OP. I have only seen freezer trucks, paper supply trucks and a bakery truck deliver to my local Wendy's. I have never seen them slicing potatoes inside the store.

          1. re: Cathy

            Well, I'm the OP, and here's the full nutrition info from the link by Wendy's:

            ______________________________________________________

            Large French Fries
            Large Fries
            Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils: canola, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (to maintain natural color). Cooked in Vegetable Oil (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural flavor [vegetable], citric acid [preservative], dimethylpolysiloxane [anti-foaming agent]). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain Wheat, Egg, Milk, and Fish (where available). Seasoned with Sea Salt.

            Ketchup, 1 packet
            Tomato Concentrate (made from red ripe tomatoes), Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Salt, Spice, Onion Powder, Natural Flavoring.

            Ketchup, 2 packets
            Tomato Concentrate (made from red ripe tomatoes), Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Salt, Spice, Onion Powder, Natural Flavoring.

            A Word about Trans Fats

            As previously announced in August 2006, Wendy's switched to in-store cooking oils containing 0 grams of trans fats which has significantly reduced the amount of trans fats in its French fries.

            Wendy's groundbreaking switch to cooking oil with 0 grams of trans fats continues Wendy's role as an innovator in the quick service restaurant industry. Wendy's is working to reduce trans fat levels even further by addressing other issues that affect the level of trans fats, such as the oils used by Wendy's French fry suppliers and deviations from proper oil rotation during busy meal times.

            In preparing French fries from raw potatoes to the hot, golden brown product customers enjoy in Wendy's restaurants, two processes affect the level of trans fats in the finished product: processing by the French fry supplier and cooking in one of our restaurants.

            In Wendy's continued efforts to further reduce trans fats in its food products, Wendy's has directed its French fry suppliers to create a blend of oils that has 0 grams trans fat to be used by the suppliers when preparing Wendy's French fries. Wendy's is currently testing in its restaurants (with favorable results) French fries cooked by suppliers in oil blends containing 0 grams of trans fat.

            As with all of Wendy's food products, Wendy's French fries are individually portioned and variations will exist from restaurant to restaurant. In order to ensure that our customers can have confidence in the nutritional information provided by Wendy's, Wendy's follows a rigorous testing process that follows the recommended procedures of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Samples are taken from Wendy's suppliers across the country and sent to independent laboratories for analysis. These tests are conducted at regular intervals and the results are available at www.wendys.com.

            Wendy's is proud of its legacy as an innovator in the restaurant industry and our efforts to remove trans fats from our food products are a continuation of that tradition.

            ______________________________________________________

            Don't see a mention about frozen potatoes in oil ..?

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Large Fries
              Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils:

              I just called someone who works there. They come frozen.

              1. re: Cathy

                Well, ok that may be the case, but you said originally that they were frozen per the nutrition info link, which is what threw me.

                Original reply:
                "Per the nutrition information on the link you provided, Wendy's uses bags of sliced frozen sliced potatoes with oil. Then fries them."

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Well. I knew what I meant. If only you could see how my brain works, then you'd maybe understand.

                  In any case, I liked In-N-Out fries better than all others, probaby because of the simplicity, but gave up eating fried potatoes in 2009.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    You should give these a try if you ever go back to eating fried potatoes.

              2. re: ipsedixit

                Don't see a mention about frozen potatoes in oil
                ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                The ingredients listed tell you the potatoes have been blanched, prepared with oil...

                "Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils: canola, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn),......."
                -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                In a commercial operation a frozen french fry produces a more consistent product than pre-packaged fresh (not frozen) fries or making them from fresh potatoes.
                The starch content in potatoes can change through the growing season and sometimes that starch can change to sugar which is undesireable when making a french fry (sugar turns dark and can taste burnt when fried).
                A reason why Thomas Keller uses frozen fries is because they're more consistent.
                A restaurant chain I worked for used those steak fries and they were prepared and packed for us fresh. There were inconsistencies because of starches and sugars so we went to frozen.
                So in any large operation you can almost assume the fries are frozen, except for In-N-Out.

          2. re: Cathy

            Thomas Keller also uses frozen fries.

            http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2007/01...

            1. re: PorkButt

              They make for better fries ... it's one reason In-N-Out fries are generally subpar.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Most fries are blanched (cooked quickly) then frozen or refrigerated and then fried before serving. Basically cooked twice.

                In-N-Out fries are not blanched....reason why they're always limp. I always ask for In-N-Out fries well done.

          3. Am I wrong, or has Jack In the Box been doing this for years?

            1. I went to Wendy's the other day for a chili fix and sampled a few fries (forgetting they made a switch, until after I left and saw the new signs) and there was no revelation like you had. Maybe I have to pay better attention next time.

              The chili is definitely good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: monku

                The chili is definitely good.
                _______________________

                So is the burger.

              2. While heading for Thanksgiving I popped into a Wendy's at Dulles Airport in Washington. It was great. I have eaten lots of Wendy's, but for some reason this was perfect. The burger was so hot and juicy, the toppings were fresh and crisp, the bun was substantial, it was delicious. And the fries were awesome. I hadn't heard they were getting new fries and I sometimes don't get them because they are pretty bad...but these were great. They were very hot and crisp and they tasted like actual potatoes! They were much, much better than the old ones. It was so tasty that I even told my mother about it when I got home. And I stopped again on my return trip back through the airport. If all Wendy's were like that I would be eating there an awful lot.

                1. Bleh, no thanks. Wendy's already had too much salt on the fries, and now there's almost 50% more. I'll pass.

                  1. I tried them the other day - and maybe it was the location and the fact they werent fresh/hot - but I couldnt tell the difference from the old ones from taste alone. (eating in the car in the dark)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: joe777cool

                      If I'm not mistaken, Wendy's has tried various fries through the years and by far these were the best. I would definitely try them right out of the fryer...I usually wait the three minutes or whatever to get fresh fries whenever I am in a fast food joint (do that with the McChicken's at McDonald's as well...they even have a register key marked "fresh" for ordering, so I think I am not the only one)

                    2. If any of you visit the Great White North, I suggest a stop by the Swiss Chalet restaurant chain. Their rotisserie chicken is OK - it's not great, but it's not horrid either, but their fries are tremendous.

                      They are real potatoes, sliced each day in the restaurant, blanched in oil at 300, and then cooled and reheated in 360 oil before serving. Best fast food fries in the country.

                      1. I've always hated Wendy's fries ... and pretty much quit going since the end of their potato/salad bar days, but I'm almost tempted to go try these.

                        1. What is this about sea salt??? All salt was sea salt!!!

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: malibumike

                            No it isn't. You've never heard the term "back to the old salt mine"?

                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                              But the real issue is...who really cares if it's sea salt or not!!!

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                He means that the salt from the mines were deposited by there by waters that evaporated.

                                I'll be sure to try the fries out, but my guess is that anything will be better than their previous, limp/dead fries, but that it'll still be behind McDonald's fries.

                                1. re: ediblover

                                  Well, of course! McDopnald's are awesome.

                                  1. re: observor

                                    the new wendy's fries decimate mickey d's!

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      Woah, now...let's not go bonkers.

                                2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                  jenny, yes it was, the whole earth was covered by oceans at one time, the term sea salt is to charge dumb yuppies more.

                                  1. re: malibumike

                                    It's not really that simple...
                                    Mass-produced chemical salt is just sodium chloride, while sea salt is a complex combination of various sodium compounds. For one, it tastes different...

                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                      Mass-produced chemical salt is just sodium chloride, while sea salt is a complex combination of various sodium compounds. For one, it tastes different...
                                      __________________

                                      Um, no.

                                      Chemically, sea salt and table salt are not different. Sea salt and table salt have the same basic nutritional value — both mostly consist of two minerals — sodium and chloride.

                                      Sea salt is generally 98% sodium chloride, compared to table salt's 99.9% purity. The remaining 2 percent can be trace minerals such as iron, magnesium, sulfur or iodine.

                                      Sea salt may taste different ("better" is too subjective of a term) simply because of the way it is made. Sea salt is produced through evaporation of seawater, usually with little processing, which leaves behind some trace minerals and elements depending on its water source. These insignificant amounts of minerals add flavor and color to sea salt, which lead some to conclude that they taste "better".

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Those trace minerals make it taste different, and better, in my opinion.

                              2. Try 'em yourself for free.
                                Just click the banner ad.

                                http://vindicoasset.edgesuite.net/Rep...

                                1. LOVE their original chicken sandwiches, and their OLD fries,,,,,,,these new ones SUCK!!!!!!!!!!

                                  1. LOVED these fries! ours had the perfect amount of salt. these could be a serious habit.

                                    ~~~~~
                                    related to wendy's: there are two wendy's franchise groups. one is "international." anyway, ad campaigns on TV may not relate to the "wendy's" you know down the street. we learned this when asking why certain items (like the baked potato) were not on the dollar value menu, like we'd seen on TV.

                                    1. I've had them twice and don't find anything special about them.

                                      23 Replies
                                      1. re: monku

                                        Same here. They weren't bad, they weren't good. They're just average fast food fries. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of any fries so I went to lunch with a FF maven. He had the same reaction - nothing special.

                                        1. re: rockycat

                                          I know my fries - and these arent anything special. Micky D's still #1, Wendys still #2, and Burger King still the worst in the world.

                                          1. re: joe777cool

                                            I don't know what you mean by "anything special"...you put them as number 2! I think they have good potato flavor, they are crisp, and well salted. They're not as good as McD, but they are not bad at all and they are vastly superior to the fries that were before them.

                                            1. re: observor

                                              and they are vastly superior to the fries that were before them.

                                              -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                              If they were "vastly superior" I would have noticed something.
                                              I think part of the problem is the two times I got them they weren't fresh out of the fryer...limp and luke warm.

                                              1. re: monku

                                                Had them again today, and while they were a bit better than they were the last time (but still not hot of the fryer), I think that the old ones (fresh) are better than what I had these last 2 visits

                                            2. re: joe777cool

                                              What is up with BK fries? Why do they keep putting them out like that? I love fries to distraction and NEVER order them at BK. Nasty, nasty.

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                Agree, but I will admit that I sort of like (probably really like) BK Onion Rings.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Me too.... because they aren't like the tapeworm stringy onions for some weird onion puree in a ring shape.

                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                    I've always wondered why McDonald's doesn't make onion rings. Wonder what their onion rings would be like.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Perhaps a packaging issue. Onion rings (generally speaking) are like snow flakes, in that their size/shape/width vary literally from ring to ring (due to the orb-shape of the raw onion from which they are cut). With Mc D's french fries, they are either long or short, but generally the same width and overall shape and fall conventiently like thin potato soldiers-at-attention into their cardboard barracks; most regular or large orders kinda look to weigh about the same. With onion rings, an hypothetical order of 6 or 8 rings might contain all small/thin rings or all large/wide rings, and the time it would take for the person behind the counter to put together an order that provided a 'fair' mix of big and small rings would be inefficient. And how would their cardboard container effectively allow for some rings 3/4 inches wide to stack atop of other rings 1/4 inch wide? Lots of wasted space (though that might prove a plus whe it comes to staying crisp, surrounded as it were by lots of air/space). Until they can develop an onion with a consistant diameter all the way across its' corpus, onion rings just are too individualistic for the fastfood village into which they are born...

                                                      1. re: silence9

                                                        BK seems to be able to cope with this "packaging issue" ...

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          Re: packaging - now if someone were to take green onion/scallion stalks and cut them into cigarette-length pieces and batter 'em up and fry 'em, that would approximate the shape of french fries and therefore allow for easier packaging. Mmm, battered and fried green onion stalks :-) Patent pending!

                                                2. re: buttertart

                                                  They plain SUCK - no 2 ways about it. I wont order a value meal just because I know I wont eat them. In fact I have driven out of my way to micky d's or wendys for a quick meal just because of the gross "fry product" at BK.

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6523...

                                            3. re: monku

                                              It's fast food. You'll rarely find any to be "special."

                                              I tried the fries today. They're pretty much what I expected. They were much better than what they were, but still behind McDonald's fries. The ones I got were slightly overcooked, but still had good moisture and bite. The crispness was just about spot on (again, much improved from before). My issue with them was the seasoning. I examined them closely and I can see the grains of sea salt, but it was so underseasoned that there was no flavor/mouthfeel distinction of them being sea salt. I would have liked them better if they ditched the expensive sea salt and just piled on the regular table salt.

                                              All that got me thinking - If fast food is underseasoned, who is to blame? My guess is that it's a decision made at company HQ. This is under the assumption that the operation has everything, even the salting, down to a procedure, so that everything is uniform. Then again, it may be going too far to assume they use a special salt shaker, and that it may have been the fault of the person working the fryer.

                                              1. re: ediblover

                                                Sea salt isn't expensive. It's under a buck-fifty a pound in quantities you or I would deal with, certainly less for Wendy's with the bulk they must go through.

                                                Let's have a little math fun.

                                                A medium order of fries from Wendy's has 500mg sodium. We can multiply this by 2.5 to find that they use about 1250mg or 1.25g of sea salt per medium fries. Rounding a pound to 454 grams, that gives us roughly 363 orders of fries salted per pound, costing around $0.00413 each. Definitely not expensive.

                                                1. re: ratbuddy

                                                  that gives us roughly 363 orders of fries salted per pound, costing around $0.00413 each. Definitely not expensive
                                                  _________________

                                                  Maybe not per order, but extrapolate that to the hundreds and thousands of orders of fries a single Wendy's may serve over the course of a month and the cents begin to add up. Margins, even for fast food restaurants, are awfully slim. Every little bit -- even fractions of pennies -- count in the aggregate.

                                                  I'm not saying it's a major overhead item, but I just wouldn't be so quick to glibly assume that it isn't.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    I can't believe your average Wendy's hands out more than a few hundred orders of fries daily. Anyway, the salt isn't even precise...I don't think they are measuring out 1.25 grams of salt per order...hell, half the time the stoned workers probably forget to even put salt on. I think complaining about underseasoning isn't even just...you can always add salt (or ask for more if sea salt makes that much of a difference)...the real quality should come in the flavor of the fries, the texture, etc. thus it is in one's interests to wait a few minutes for fresh fries. Only fresh salted fries can be measured to its merits compared to other fries that are likewise prepared.

                                                    1. re: observor

                                                      They probably serve that many just during the lunch rush.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Well, assuming a thousand orders a day, that would be 4 dollars a day in salt, 28 dollars a week, 1456 dollars a year, so for the 6600 restaurants that would come to 9 million dollars...out of expenses of more than 2 billion....or roughly .4 percent.

                                                      2. re: observor

                                                        The fries I had were fresh. Also, the salt is a major component and is a big part of the advertisement. If I order cajun fries at a Five's, I expect a good deal of the spice mix, and not a "Where's the flavor?" reaction. Again, I don't know what the procedure is on salting the fries, but the ones I got were underseasoned. And, all things being relative, l can't remember the last time I ended up with underseasoned fries from the competition.

                                                        1. re: ediblover

                                                          Well, it's a simple matter to apply more salt, shouldn't really deduct points for that, IMO. I found them to have a good potato flavor and a meaty crispness.

                                                          1. re: observor

                                                            And Wendy's fry salt is excellent, fine-milled and clingy.

                                                  2. re: ediblover

                                                    "Underseasoned"? You're getting nearly half your recommended daily sodium intake from a single side dish of a single meal, and you consider that underseasoned?

                                                    I don't understand this fixation with salt. I never add it to anything, except when I use steak spice (which is mostly salt, I admit). There's so much salt in so many cooking ingredients - most sauces, butter, virtually anything out of a tin or jar - I don't see the need.

                                                    The best fries in the world - served at roadside chip stands in Quebec - have a bit of salt and a squirt of vinegar. Even McD's and Wendy's offer vinegar with their fries in Canada. Try that, and you'll never miss the salt.