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

ipsedixit Nov 30, 2010 02:37 PM

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.

  1. c
    Cathy Nov 30, 2010 02:48 PM

    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
      ipsedixit Nov 30, 2010 02:53 PM

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

      1. re: Cathy
        ipsedixit Nov 30, 2010 02:57 PM

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

        1. re: ipsedixit
          Cathy Nov 30, 2010 02:59 PM

          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
            ipsedixit Nov 30, 2010 03:02 PM

            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
              Cathy Nov 30, 2010 03:03 PM

              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
                ipsedixit Nov 30, 2010 03:05 PM

                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
                  Cathy Nov 30, 2010 03:13 PM

                  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
                    ipsedixit Nov 30, 2010 03:15 PM

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

              2. re: ipsedixit
                monku Nov 30, 2010 07:12 PM

                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
            PorkButt Nov 30, 2010 04:03 PM

            Thomas Keller also uses frozen fries.


            1. re: PorkButt
              ipsedixit Nov 30, 2010 05:13 PM

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

              1. re: ipsedixit
                monku Nov 30, 2010 06:27 PM

                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. soypower Nov 30, 2010 03:22 PM

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

            1. monku Nov 30, 2010 06:33 PM

              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
                ipsedixit Nov 30, 2010 06:43 PM

                The chili is definitely good.

                So is the burger.

              2. o
                observor Dec 1, 2010 09:56 AM

                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. r
                  ratbuddy Dec 1, 2010 10:02 AM

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

                  1. j
                    joe777cool Dec 1, 2010 02:43 PM

                    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
                      observor Dec 1, 2010 03:21 PM

                      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. f
                      FrankD Dec 4, 2010 03:40 PM

                      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. Firegoat Dec 5, 2010 03:36 AM

                        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. m
                          malibumike Dec 5, 2010 03:31 PM

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

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: malibumike
                            Jenny Ondioline Dec 5, 2010 03:42 PM

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

                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                              observor Dec 5, 2010 03:57 PM

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

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                ediblover Dec 6, 2010 02:42 PM

                                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
                                  observor Dec 6, 2010 07:25 PM

                                  Well, of course! McDopnald's are awesome.

                                  1. re: observor
                                    alkapal Dec 11, 2010 11:53 AM

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

                                    1. re: alkapal
                                      observor Dec 12, 2010 10:01 PM

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

                                2. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                  malibumike Dec 19, 2010 04:57 AM

                                  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
                                    Tripeler Dec 19, 2010 05:04 AM

                                    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
                                      ipsedixit Dec 19, 2010 09:30 AM

                                      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
                                        Tripeler Dec 19, 2010 03:46 PM

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

                              2. p
                                phantomdoc Dec 7, 2010 05:02 AM

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


                                1. Lindseyup67 Dec 7, 2010 05:52 PM

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

                                  1. alkapal Dec 11, 2010 11:49 AM

                                    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. monku Dec 12, 2010 10:10 PM

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

                                      23 Replies
                                      1. re: monku
                                        rockycat Dec 13, 2010 05:23 AM

                                        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
                                          joe777cool Dec 13, 2010 06:11 PM

                                          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
                                            observor Dec 13, 2010 06:14 PM

                                            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
                                              monku Dec 13, 2010 07:16 PM

                                              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
                                                joe777cool Dec 16, 2010 02:31 PM

                                                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
                                              buttertart Dec 14, 2010 09:23 AM

                                              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
                                                ipsedixit Dec 14, 2010 09:25 AM

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

                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  Firegoat Dec 14, 2010 10:25 AM

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

                                                  1. re: Firegoat
                                                    ipsedixit Dec 14, 2010 10:27 AM

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

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                      silence9 Dec 14, 2010 02:22 PM

                                                      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
                                                        ipsedixit Dec 14, 2010 02:25 PM

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

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                          silence9 Dec 14, 2010 02:34 PM

                                                          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
                                                  joe777cool Dec 14, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                  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.


                                            3. re: monku
                                              ediblover Dec 17, 2010 09:25 AM

                                              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
                                                ratbuddy Dec 17, 2010 03:42 PM

                                                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
                                                  ipsedixit Dec 17, 2010 05:36 PM

                                                  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
                                                    observor Dec 18, 2010 08:08 AM

                                                    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
                                                      ipsedixit Dec 18, 2010 08:15 AM

                                                      They probably serve that many just during the lunch rush.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                        observor Dec 18, 2010 08:31 AM

                                                        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
                                                        ediblover Dec 18, 2010 09:14 AM

                                                        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
                                                          observor Dec 20, 2010 05:44 AM

                                                          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
                                                            buttertart Dec 20, 2010 06:39 AM

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

                                                  2. re: ediblover
                                                    FrankD Dec 26, 2010 03:38 PM

                                                    "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.

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