REVIEW: Wendy’s Crispy Chicken BLT

Wendy's Crispy Chicken BLT

“What if I want to buy it by itself?” I asked.

She responded, “You can buy it by itself but it’s from over here and doesn’t have bacon on it.” The cashier gestured at the value menu, at their value chicken sandwich. At least at this Wendy’s, they do not sell the Crispy Chicken BLT alone. I was being railroaded into buying a meal.

In a true “Mom, don’t tell me what to do” moment, I grimaced. Yes, Wendy’s is offering a “4 for $4” deal that is basically Frankenstein-ed value menu options, and is kicking it off with a new item, the Crispy Chicken BLT.

Here’s the thing: I have piecemealed together feasts from Wendy’s in the past. This is one of my favorite places to do it. But if you’re saying I have to buy a soda and I have to buy some fries, I’m going to push back a bit. No Frosty? No baked potato? As the combinations dwindle, it feels like Dave Thomas’ ghost hand is holding my head under a vat of Wendy’s chili as he mumbles something about how ground beef should have right-angled corners.

The meal comes with a sandwich, four nuggets, a soda and fries. And once the sandwich is unwrapped, it’s clear why it comes with friends. It’s pretty tiny. Turns out, it’s a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger but with a fried white chicken patty replacing the beef.

Wendy's Crispy Chicken BLT 2

The Crispy Chicken BLT boasts a two slices of bacon, a slice of American cheese, mayo, lettuce, and tomato on top of the patty. The bacon is crispier than I’m used to on other Wendy’s items, but it and the lettuce add a nice texture to the entire bite. The bun is soft but dry, and combined with the mild hum of the American cheese and mayonnaise, can get a little overbearing at times.

The chicken itself is fine—the white meat is free of soft bones (unlike a McChicken, sometimes) and contrasts nicely to the sodium boost the pork adds. The patty is nothing particularly special, similar to most other sandwiches on the value menu, but this seems to complement the other ingredients a tad better than the beef counterpart.

How was the rest of the meal? I would have liked a Frosty, to be honest. The fries seemed like overkill, but were fine. And surprisingly, I did not get sick of chicken, as I gulped down four nuggets no problem (didn’t they use to have five nuggets?).

I’m not a fan of the “4 for $4” promotion. It looks too much like 4-4-4, which gives off Illuminati vibes, and the entire situation definitely feels like paying for a cable package when all I need is Warriors basketball, the Property Brothers and the People v. OJ Simpson. “Kar-dash-i-an! Kar-dash-i-an!”

The sandwich is a decent value menu item, and four bucks is a pretty good price for a meal. Just lemme pick my own stuff, Wendy’s.

(Nutrition Facts – 440 calories, 24 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 950 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 20 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4 (includes meal)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Serviceable value menu item. Better than the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. Chicken and bacon go together well, lettuce adds a nice crisp.
Cons: Cheese and bread can overwhelm. You need to buy four things at once.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon Fondue Fries

Wendy’s Bacon Fondue Fries

“You know, you’re the first guy I’ve seen eat cheese fries in a suit. And with a knife and fork to boot. I told you not to order just cheese fries”

Taking a break from chewing, I realized my friend Seth had a point. For a second I even considered that I might look ridiculous. Then I remembered he was the one saying “to boot,” and I was the one savoring one of the finest cheeses of Europe or something.

“Dude, these aren’t cheese fries. It’s fondue. If you knew anything about anything you’d know it’s all the rage in Europe and only the next big food trend here.”

“You sure there, Marty McFly? I coulda sworn my grandparents saw that stuff go out of style.”

I looked down at the natural cut, skin-on fries; their still-crispy skins peeking out from the thick white goo of the Swiss Gruyere cheese like rocky outcroppings dotting the Alps. Ok, I told myself, he has a point. But so what if fondue is a bit retro. Besides, I don’t remember bacon in any of those corny old photo albums. And these fries weren’t just covered in bacon, they were covered in practically a whole hog’s belly.

“Cheesy goodness never goes out of style, Seth. Especially not when bacon is introduced.”

“Yeah, but on fries? I like cheese and bacon as much as the next guy, but I’d prefer to eat this bacon cheeseburger. I like my fries crispy, not soggy and covered in even more fat.”

Wendy’s Bacon Fondue Fries 2

A fair point, to be sure, and one I had originally had reservations about. But the fries remained remarkably crisp despite the fresh covering of Gruyere cheese lava. They even managed to retain that hearty and earthy potato flavor with the addition of the assertive but nutty richness of fast food’s take on the classic Swiss cheese.

“It’s all strategic positioning,” I explained. “The cheese covers most of the fries without saturating each fry completely. Yeah, parts of the fries are a bit soggy, but more often than not you’re still getting bites of untouched potato skin. It’s really the best of both worlds.”

Now he was the one doing a double take at his meal, his Junior Bacon Cheeseburger appearing increasingly dull.

“But the bacon…no way it’s actually good.”

I could tell he was scrambling. And still wrong.

“Why wouldn’t it be? It’s the same bacon the burgers use. Crispy, meaty, and with enough chewy and smoky fat to keep things interesting. I did get one burnt tasting piece, but overall it’s damn good.

“But man, let me tell you, this cheese sauce is where it’s at.” I was getting close to rubbing it in now, but Seth had been the one mocking me for “just” getting cheese fries. The way I saw it, he had earned it. “It’s rich like butter, smoky like meat, and as gooey as the gooiest grilled cheese sandwich your mom ever made for you. And since you can eat it with a fork and knife, you actually savor it all.

Now that was a bit excessive. I looked down in partial shame (but really mostly just to get another bite) and then looked up again to apologize to Seth. He had left, but returning a moment later with an order of Bacon Fondue Fries in one hand, and a knife and fork in the other.

“Yeah,” he said. “Turns out you were right.”

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 230 calories from fat, 25 grams of fat, 8 grams of sat fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 590 milligrams of sodium, 1050 milligrams of potassium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein, 10% DV calcium..)

Item: Wendy’s Bacon Fondue Fries
Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Excellent contrast of crispy fries and warm, gooey cheese sauce. Bacon is plentiful and meaty with excellent smoke flavor. Complex Gruyere cheese sauce is like Queso with a Ph.D. in International banking (or something). Two and a half bananas worth of potassium. Being right.
Cons: Bordering on heavy. Pricey for a side item. Eating French Fries like an aristocrat.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Baconator Fries

Wendy’s Baconator Fries

“How are the Baconator Fries?”

“They are banging. You need to get them.”

That’s how my recent Wendy’s transaction started – word for word. I obviously ordered them. Who could argue with that assessment? I hope she was instantly promoted to management, because she knows how to sell a French fry.

I recently returned home from the West Coast, where I made the obligatory stop at In-N-Out. As I sat there eating my Animal Style fries, I wondered why more fast food places didn’t have more menu items featuring the fry as the star. It’s pretty damn hard to mess up a French fry, so why not mess around and provide more toppings than just standard salt? Enter Wendy’s with their new Baconator Fries.

Like the delicious burger of the same name, Baconator Fries are… well, they’re fries covered in cheese and bacon. Wendy’s website claims the ingredients are as follows – natural cut fries, cheese sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, and Applewood smoked bacon. I don’t believe my order had the shredded cheddar though, which is fine, because I believe that would have been overkill.

Baconator Fries aren’t the most attractive looking dish, but at this point we all know the pictures in the commercials aren’t remotely true to life. This was kind of a mess. You won’t be enjoying these with your fingers. There’s something inherently depressing about eating a non-salad fast food product with a fork. I’m not sure why I feel that way, but it just seems to amplify the fact you’re eating greasy fast food.

Wendy’s Baconator Fries 3

To Wendy’s credit, they don’t skimp on the bacon. There was plenty, and despite what I’m going to say next, the bacon held up well and kept a nice crisp – something that I’m frankly not used to when it comes to fast food bacon. I usually pick at least one grisly strip out and toss it.

Wendy’s Baconator Fries 2

The fries themselves were limp and soggy, but to be fair, that should be expected due to the excessive amount of cheese sauce. I also think the plastic casing it came in was a major culprit. I’m never a fan of food served in plastic containers like this. No matter how fast you open it, the contents are still sweating worse than Shaq at the free throw line. Really, the only purpose the plastic container has is to expedite the sog progress, or “sogress”™ of the food inside.

Like I said earlier, it’s hard to mess up a French fry. I like Wendy’s fries a lot actually. They made the change to the natural cut, sea salt version years back and it was definitely for the better. Even without a crispiness, they’re tasty. The cheese sauce is the same from the Baconator. It’s not bad, but I couldn’t help but think a different cheese would have suited this a bit better. Still, coupled with the fries and the crispy bacon, you get at least a few really good bites of food here.

It’s fun to say “Baconator,” isn’t it? That’s a winning name, Wendy’s. Nice job. It doesn’t quite make up for the “Dave’s Hot and Juicy,” but you can’t win em all. I hope they continue messing around with fry-based menu items, but also hoping they leave the “Dave’s Hot and Juicy Fries” on the cutting room floor. Nobody wants to actually say that out loud. The Baconator is also just a really solid hamburger. In fact, that’s one thing that was constantly on my mind while eating these fries – how much I wanted an actual Baconator burger. These fries are kind of a tease in that sense.

Here’s the thing though, this portion is more than a side dish. The size is problematic because I don’t believe it’s enough to pass off as a meal, but it’s also too big to pair with a good sized burger. You’re either gonna be hungry again in an hour, or miserably full for the next few depending on what you order.

I’d say either pair these fries with a 4 piece nuggets, or a Jr. sized burger, or just enjoy them as a Taco Bell-style “FourthMeal.” According to the website, you can also customize your order, so who knows, you might even be able to add hamburger meat and make a Top Chef style “deconstructed Baconator.” Fancy.

So yeah, this is standard Wendy’s fare. They’re often on the mark with their new exclusives. Baconator fries are not something I’m gonna flock out and eat weekly like I did with the Pretzel Pub Chicken Sandwich, but I definitely recommend giving them a try. For only two bucks, you can’t go wrong.

In conclusion… bring back the Pretzel Pub Chicken Sandwich!

(Nutrition Facts – 490 calories, 250 calories from fat, 28 grams of fat, 9 grams of sat fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 550 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Baconator Fries
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Price. Crispy bacon. Good flavor pairing. The name “Baconator.” The cute actress in the Wendy’s commercials. Enthusiastic employee. Wendy’s in general.
Cons: “Limited” time only item. Sogress™. Too much cheese. Dave’s Hot and Juicy. In-between portion size.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresco Chicken Sandwich

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco Chicken Sandwich

My first experience with a Wendy’s was, surprisingly, only a few years ago.

I would have tried it earlier – hell, I would have been inhaling Dave’s delicious cheeseburgers through a straw, if the laws of physics allowed – if not for my mother’s utter disdain of the establishment.

Whenever I asked if we could eat there, she never failed to go off on the familiar rant – flashback to her adolescent years. A new Wendy’s was opening up within bus distance of her house, and she was ecstatic to finally try their fabled burgers. She walked in and out within a minute, food in hand.

Immediately she knew that something was up – if it wasn’t her burger’s pungent smell, it was perhaps the meat, with its usual square shape, as well as a not-as-usual green hue, that threw her off. Regardless, she plunged in for a bite, curiosity getting the best of her.

This is where she likes to conclude her story, glossing over the (presumably) nauseating aftermath of her outing. Needless to say, she wasn’t exactly keen on ever going back to a Wendy‘s again, and she simply refused to subject me to their inherent misdoings as a company. For years, I was physically barred from ever trying Wendy’s.

Thankfully, since I no longer need my mom to take me to places, I was able to try out Wendy’s new Jalapeño Fresco Chicken Sandwich!

Look, I love Wendy’s – their aforementioned cheeseburgers, their Frostys (or Frosties? Both spellings look weird to my eyes. Let‘s just go with Frostteez), and everything in between. Few nationwide fast food joints have earned my undying admiration and respect (Shoutout to Carl’s Jr./Hardee‘s, despite their goofy mascot) and Wendy’s is definitely at the top of the heap.

And I love a good, hot kick to my foods, so I was more than happy to tackle this unholy chicken sandwich.

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco Chicken Sandwich 2

When I opened up the little cardboard box, the first thing I noticed was an angry, saucy smell – reminiscent of nacho cheese, but not as artificial. This, it turned out, was the bright-orange ghost pepper sauce, which drowned the chicken breast with its oozing essence.

That’s good news for me, because the sauce was delicious and one of the most interesting additions to a fast food sandwich I’ve ever had.

It was fascinating because it seemed to both heat, then immediately cool down my mouth. I don’t know what the flavor scientists at Wendy’s were doing when they stumbled upon this one, but their creation is one that complements the surrounding ingredients.

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco Chicken Sandwich 3

And speaking of those surrounding ingredients, the diced jalapeños were another standout. They added a nice textural contrast, while providing a different sort of flavor and heat in comparison to the ghost pepper sauce.

The sliced onions were firm and crisp. And of course, there’s the breaded chicken breast, which was huge, crispy, juicy, spicy in its own right (comparatively spicier than most “spicy” chicken fillets I’ve had at other fast food places), and gets no complaints from this guy.

According to the Wendy’s website, this sandwich also contains “Colby pepper jack cheese”, which…really? I’m normally a pretty avid cheese aficionado, but there was absolutely no need for it here. It added nothing to this sandwich. What a waste of cheese!

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco Chicken Sandwich 4

Lastly, there’s the red jalapeño bun. I took a nibble of it and it definitely had a light kick, but when eaten with the rest of the sandwich, its flavor got lost among the other spicy parts of the sandwich. I understand Wendy’s intentions – when they say spicy, they MEAN spicy – but the bun was a bit of a disappointment.

Nitpicking aside, this was perhaps my favorite Wendy’s sandwich since their pretzel bun stuff a while back. God, I miss those pretzel buns. I’m so impressed with it that I’ll definitely be going back for seconds.

Take that, Mom!

(Nutrition Facts – 580 calories, 29 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1390 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 32 grams of protein..)

Item: Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresco Chicken Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Ghost pepper sauce is the delicious star of this thing. Balance of different flavors and textures. Carl’s Jr.
Cons: I’m still pissed about the uselessness of the cheese. Mothers banning their children from eating tasty hamburgers. Seriously, what kind of mascot is a star with sunglasses?!

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche

Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche boasts big B-word buzz by bundling bankable blends between boring bread and beef.

You know what? Forget this.

Wendy’s used up all the B-related alliteration I can handle. No more B-words for the rest of the review. They are henceforth banished. Oops. Bungled it. Argh, bollocks! How do the Crips do it? They avoid saying words that start with B … Hmm, do Bloods favor Red Robin?

Gang-related fast food questions aside, Wendy’s trotted out the Bacon & Blue on Brioche for us. Knowing Wendy’s history with blue offerings, this seemed like it would be a treat. (I, however, never tried the old Bacon & Blue Burger from five years ago). How did it fare? It’s unique and bold, if not a little bit unbalanced, like a celebrity.

The first B is for bacon, and the strips in this burger definitely delivered on the crispy texture and smoky flavor. The bacon seems to be a popular item here. The person ahead of me in line and the person behind me both ordered Baconators. They then both high-fived over my head and stared me down while shaking their heads slowly.

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche 2

Which brings me to the second B, the blue cheese flavors. The item sports both blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese aioli, and that might have been too much. The blue cheese combo has a back-of-the-throat coating quality that is interesting and hits immediately upon first bite. While the aioli does a good job of melding the flavors together, the combo also displays a minor, pungent blue cheese stink. This proves to be particularly powerful and overwhelms the flashes of bacon taste. It spins the entire thing a little out of whack, although the occasional balanced bites were pretty decent. The spring mix is slightly bitter and does a very good job of breaking up the monotony.

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche 3

The beef in my burger was the weak point. Next to the great, pretty flavors of the eponymous “B & B,” the ground beef was mostly flavorless, which is sad because I think the blue cheese’s smooth flavor would’ve shined if consumed with better tasting beef.

Again, there were a few bites that seemed to balance everything well, including the beef, but the planets did not align as much as I would have liked. The third B in the name, brioche, is fine. It’s shiny and has a slight crisp on the outside, which adds a nice textural flair to the entire meal.

This item is definitely not going to have universal appeal and for that fast food version of bravery, Wendy’s gets a high five from me. High five, guys.

Oh, everybody leaving me hanging?

What, nobody else in this Wendy’s is ordering the same thing as me?

I’m not putting it down until someone slaps five with me. I refuse to use a word that starts with B until someone high fives me. See? It’s easy. I could be a Crip. Unless that means I can never go to Red Robin again.

In that case, bye bye, bros.

(Nutrition Facts – 650 calories, 39 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 125 milligrams of cholesterol, 1290 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 34 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche
Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good flavors in some bites. Unique flavors.
Cons: Blue cheese is a little overwhelming. Bacon gets lost. Burger meat flavorless.

REVIEW: Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

Wendy's BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

There are several places I never want to find pulled pork, including a high school cafeteria, the bathroom, and inside an open wound. Fortunately, Wendy’s has nothing to do with these three things.

Similar to Denny’s fascination with bacon, Wendy’s has a newfound obsession with pulled pork. This autumn season, Wendy’s fast food restaurants will be offering a limited-time only menu including BBQ Pulled Pork Cheese Fries, a BBQ Pulled Pork Cheeseburger, and a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wendy’s introduced a pulled pork Frosty before the month ends. Wait a second…

Oh, Wendy. You sassy, redheaded minx.

Before I continue my review, I must confess: pulled pork has always confused me. Yes, it’s delicious, but I’ve never understood which part of the pig must be pulled in order to procure said barbecued meat. Behind the ears? No. Under the stomach? Nope. Between the legs? Good lord, no!

Still pondering the anatomy of hogs, I found myself inside a local Wendy’s restaurant. With five dollars in my pocket and the hunger-pangs in full effect, I decided it was high-time to try the new BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, which features hickory-smoked pulled pork meat, a layer of coleslaw, and a toasted brioche bun. Each sandwich is finished with one of three sauces: smoky, spicy, or sweet.

The sandwich arrives in a red, cardboard box decorated with Wendy’s smiling mug. Opening this package reveals the pulled pork sandwich in all its glory, topped with a grease-soaked bun that glistens in the sunlight.

The pulled pork itself is smoky and meaty. A praiseworthy approximation of barbecue flavor, it lacks the dry, chewy qualities I’ve noticed of low-quality pulled pork. Sure, Wendy’s pulled pork might not be as succulent and flavorful as pulled pork from the finest Southern barbecue joints, but it certainly holds its own.

The pork flavor is enhanced by the sweet sauce, which has a pleasant tang reminiscent of the sauce found on both the McRib and Burger King BBQ Rib Sandwich. The amount of sauce on my pulled pork sandwich was just right; the meat was not supersaturated with sauce, but I was still able to taste the barbecue sauce flavor. The only drawback was that the sweet sauce seemed a bit lukewarm when compared to the meat. I suspect the sauce wasn’t heated before the sandwich was assembled. As I continued to eat, the residual heat from the pulled pork slightly improved the sauce’s temperature, but the first few bites were subpar.

Wendy's BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich 2

In comparison to both the pulled pork and sauce, the coleslaw is a letdown. Its flavor is subdued and one-note, hardly noticeable in a mouthful of smoky pork. Its main contribution to the sandwich is textural, adding a light crunch to each bite. Even so, it fails to seem as crisp as the freshest of coleslaws.

My sandwich’s contents occasionally spilled out mid-bite, but this cannot be seen as a flaw — pulled pork is an inherently messy food. Luckily, the cardboard box conveniently doubles as a tray. You will receive full protection from falling meats, just in case you decide to eat the pulled pork sandwich while in the nude, all alone in your empty apartment on a Friday night.

I finished my Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich feeling fulfilled. Though the coleslaw topping lacked bite, the sandwich’s balance of smoky pork and tangy sauce was deeply gratifying. For a fast food take on a Southern classic, Wendy’s pulled it off. The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich rivals other barbecue sandwiches I’ve tasted at a competitive price.

As a disclaimer, I want to assure the reader that neither I, nor The Impulsive Buy, endorse the pulling of pigs. Furthermore, we have never engaged in any form of hog-yanking activity. Please be kind to our animal friends, no matter how tasty.

(Nutrition Facts – 410 calories, 120 calories from fat, 14 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 4.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1230 milligrams of sodium, 360 milligrams of potassium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 17 gram of sugar, and 24 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Smoky pulled pork flavor. Tangy sauce. Perfect amount of sauce. Eating in the nude?
Cons: Lukewarm sauce. Coleslaw flavor is one-note. Ethical dilemmas of pulling pigs.