Wendy’s Menu Brings Back a Popular Side Dish

The chain offers something that McDonald’s and Burger King don’t, and it keeps building on that advantage.

Wendy’s has been willing to shake up the traditional fast-food burger menu. 

The chain, which built its business on its “fresh, never frozen” square hamburgers, has not been bound by the classic burger-and-fries menu to which rivals Burger King (a Restaurant Brands International (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc. Report division) and McDonald’s have largely limited themselves.

Burger King does offer onion rings and mozzarella sticks, while McDonald’s’  (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report side-dish menu has rarely offered anything more than its very famous fries. 

The chain has experimented with Shaker Fries, a version of the side dish for which customers shake on a seasoning in a bag. That innovation, however, has not really caught on in the U.S. and has been featured mostly on menus elsewhere.

Wendy’s has been much more open to trying new side-dish ideas. It has long offered a variety of baked potatoes on its menu as well as its popular chili, which can be ordered on its own or as a potato topping. 

Those may not be the chain’s most popular innovations, and Wendy’s has been the only major fast-food burger chain to offer variations of its fries.

The chain’s Baconator Fries have proved incredibly popular, and now Wendy’s has a new take on fries that customers are likely to love.

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Wendy’s Brings Back a Menu Favorite  

Wendy’s recently brought back its Pretzel Pub burger. The chain has been heavily advertising that sandwich in commercials featuring former National Football League player Reggie Bush. The ads make jokes that refer to him having his Heisman Trophy taken away.

The chain has not been advertising a return to the menu that goes along with the Pretzel Pub’s comeback. Wendy’s has brought back its Pretzel Pub Fries.

“Wendy’s Pub Fries consist of natural-cut, sea-salted fries topped with warm beer cheese sauce (the same that is used for the Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger), shredded cheddar, and pieces of applewood-smoked bacon. It’s basically Baconator Fries but with warm beer cheese sauce instead of creamy cheese sauce,” Brand Eating reported.

Pretzel Pub Fries join Baconator Fries, Chili Cheese Fries, and Cheese Fries on Wendy’s menu. Both McDonald’s and Burger King offer only traditional fries.

Smart Menu Additions

All fast-food chains have to balance adding new menu items with keeping their menus simple. Wendy’s, along with Yum Brands’  (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report Taco Bell, has done a very good job at making a small addition go a long way.

Instead of simply offering the Pretzel Pub Burger, Wendy’s has smartly used the cheese sauce to create the Pub Fries. That adds choice for consumers without adding much complexity to the kitchen. Like Taco Bell, Wendy’s leverages one new ingredient to create multiple menu options for customers.

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“[Our] U.S. marketing calendar sets us up to continue delivering strong results in the back half of the year, with the craveable innovation only Wendy’s can deliver, the return of an old favorite in our ownable and compelling value platforms,” Chief Executive Todd Penegor said during the chain’s second-quarter-earnings call.

Penegor is confident that a mix of new-product launches and value offerings will drive sales through the rest of the fiscal year.

“In the spirit of the state of the consumer, value will continue to be important, but we’re really well positioned with a robust and ownable value menu,” he said. 

“The work that we’ve done on $5 Biggie Bag, the trade-up that we’re seeing from four for $4, we’re not seeing trade down on our menu per se. So we’re really seeing our premium and value hanging there quite nicely.”

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