Fast food sneaks into the grocery store with varying degrees of success. Taco Bell’s range of products, from shells to sauces, are mostly fine. Arby’s frozen curly fries? Awful. In olden times, before I got sober, it was pretty hard to beat White Castle’s frozen cheeseburgers after a night spent over-imbibing. (The real thing would be the preferable choice, obviously, but we haven’t had them in my market for a couple of decades now.)
I’ve never been a regular consumer of Wendy’s chili. I’ve had it a few times on top of a potato, sure, but it’s never anything I’ve specifically set out to consume. But now that it’s available in canned form, I felt like I needed to have both. And that I should taste them side-by-side. Blindfolded, in fact, to see if I could tell which was which.
Is a blindfolded taste test a little elaborate for a can of chili? No. No, it’s not.
The first one I tried was thick and meaty. There were plenty of beans and a moderate amount of seasoning. It was salty, but not unbearably so. There were no discernible chunks of tomato, but the base was plenty tomato-y with a slight tang. If you’re into heat, this one won’t do much for you; I’ve received kisses from my grandmother that were spicier than this.
The next chili was much thinner than the first. Soupy, even. The meat chunks were few and far between. There were large, acidic pieces of stewed tomato. The base was sweet with just a little hint of heat. Despite nearly everything else being entirely different, the beans were identical to the beans in the first bowl.
So, two very different chilis allow me to say this: if you dislike Wendy’s chili, you might still like the canned version. Conversely, if you love Wendy’s version, don’t necessarily expect to love the canned variety, too. You might, you might not.
But the moment you’re all waiting for — which chili was which? The first chili — the meaty, seasoned one that I enjoyed quite a bit — was the canned version. The runny bland one was the ACTUAL Wendy’s chili.
Is this a shocking revelation? Perhaps not. Handmade chili from a human Wendy’s person is liable to vary in quality; AI chili made by a robot and canned by a machine is bound to be more formulaically standard. But this isn’t a bad thing. I’d definitely buy the canned chili again, but the other one? I feel no such compulsion.
Purchased Price: $4.42
Size: 15 oz can
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1 cup) 280 calories, 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar (2 grams of added sugar), and 17 grams of protein.