REVIEW: Wendy’s Summer Strawberry Salad

Wendy s Summer Strawberry Salad Dressing

Summer is often a terrible time for many people, including me. As the uncomfortably cruel and rigidly taunting sun beats down on me, salty sweat drips down my head as I desperately try to find a cooling balm to bring my core temperature back down to a normal range, oftentimes failing miserably.

But this is when I raise my sunburned hands to the sky and thank the equally-heliophobic Wendy’s for its yearly berry salad. For 2020, it’s the Summer Strawberry Salad.

On a cool bed of crisp green lettuce — mainly romaine — sits a Tuscan cheese blend dusting, cuts of applewood smoked bacon, succulent grilled chicken breast, and surprisingly candid candied almond slivers. The salad’s complete reason for being, the sliced bits of strawberries, lay in the leafy shade, giving the entrée its summer branding and doing it remarkably well.

Gently spritzing the large helping of zesty champagne vinaigrette over the top of the salad, it managed to slide down into every nook and cranny, guaranteeing a savory experience. The strawberries are plump and notably firm, not a bruised berry in the bunch.

Each juicy bite, like a fruity fire extinguisher, cools me down internally as I nibbled carefully, enjoying the salad wholeheartedly. The tangy dressing, with its olive oil feel and garlicky taste, offers a decent counterpoint to the abject sweetness of the strawberries and, even more so, the candied almonds.

Wendy s Summer Strawberry Salad

The romaine lettuce leaves were also surprisingly fresh. Bits of the Tuscan cheese — featuring a blend of Parmesan, Asiago, and Fontina — tantalizingly resting on them with the vinaigrette acting as a delectable glue keeping them in their place. The bacon, though predictably salty, mixes well with the grilled chicken, the candied almonds giving a sweet aftertaste that was definitely needed.

Wendy s Summer Strawberry Salad Berry Close

But what it all comes down is to the strawberries in the nomenclature. While I would have liked more of them, they held this summer salad together perfectly, especially in the half-salad I ordered, the large size only about two dollars more.

In these cruel summer months, Wendy’s has gifted us with a berry-good meal-deal that has me counting down the heated days to next year’s salad unveiling. But, until then, this will definitely do.

Purchased Price: $5.69
Size: Half
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 410 calories, 21 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 125 milligrams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 45 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Baconator Pringles

Wendy s Baconator Pringles

Like many of you, I imagine, going to the grocery store is one of my absolute favorite things to do. When I turned 30, I got a birthday card that said on the inside, “You have a favorite grocery store now” as though I hadn’t had one since my 20th birthday? Ha!

Anyway, there I was this past Tuesday, strolling along the aisles of the Skokie Jewel-Osco (an Albertson’s chain, for anyone eager to find these crisps) when I spotted an endcap display wall of glowing Wendy’s signs. Okay, they weren’t glowing, but the bright illuminated red Wendy’s sign graphic on the black tube of Pringles made it LOOK like they were glowing. This store had the new Limited Time Only Wendy’s Baconator Pringles.

Pringles has pulled off some pretty complex flavor combinations before, and I was eager to try these out. The image on the front is the classic, original Baconator with two quarter-pound patties, six strips of bacon, cheese, ketchup, and mayo on a bun.

Wendy s Baconator Pringles 2

Wendy appears on the pop-top lid and there’s a code printed on the underside of the lid for an offer for a free Baconator, Son of Baconator, or Breakfast Baconator with a purchase when you order using the Wendy’s app.

Wendy s Baconator Pringles 3

I was ready for this tube (can? cylinder?) of Pringles to have an overwhelming bacon smell, but it actually was balanced from start to finish, and the crisps were visibly seasoned with a light orange powder (I always prefer it when I can see the seasoning, don’t you?).

There are an awful lot of artificial bacon flavored and scented items out there, and some of them are offensive – this isn’t one of those items. These crisps have tangy sauce flavor, onion, and a great balance of bacon and charred burger.

Compared to the Baconator itself, the crisps could have used a little more bacon flavor, but I appreciate that they didn’t just make a bacon-flavored chip. These crisps taste like meat.

Wendy s Baconator Pringles 4

The aftertaste is slightly sweet, almost like Cheerios. Maybe they were going for bun flavor? But if you don’t like the aftertaste, just shove more meat crisps into your gob, you goof.

Overall these are a surprisingly balanced crisp that do taste like all the elements of a Baconator. Maybe Pringles will bang out a fried egg-flavored crisp next and we’ll have an excuse to eat Breakfast Baconator Pringles in the morning.

I’d try it.

I sincerely hope you’re able to locate these Baconator Pringles. If you’re in the Venn Diagram of people who love Wendy’s and people who love Pringles, these are a little slice of heaven just for you.

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 5.5oz can
Purchased at: Jewel-Osco
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 crisps/28 g) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit

Wendy s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit

What is Wendy’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit?

The less-is-more approach to Wendy’s nationwide breakfast rollout that features a crispy chicken fillet topped with maple honey butter on a “fluffy buttermilk biscuit.”

How is it?

Better than McDonald’s and Burger King, but not as good as you-know-who.

The chasm between fast food biscuit sandwiches is vast, with Chick-fil-A, Hardee’s, and Whataburger leading the way, and McDonald’s and Burger King’s ubiquitous biscuits bringing up the absolute rear (unless you count the likes of 7-Eleven and other convenience stores).

Wendy s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit Chicken

Wendy’s is somewhere in-between. The chicken component is good – meaty, juicy, and slightly peppery – and a step above the “value” McChicken that McDonald’s recently slapped between their frozen-and-thawed biscuit halves. But the chicken isn’t as good as Chick-fil-A, the honey butter isn’t as good as Whataburger’s, and the biscuit isn’t as good as Chick-fil-A or Hardee’s.

Wendy s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit Halves

In fact, the biscuit was the biggest letdown. It was neither flaky nor spongy, and it was bland and doughy. The only real flavor came from the chicken and lightly applied honey butter.

Is there anything else you need to know?

The biscuit could have been much better if there was a more liberal application of the honey butter, which was applied only sparingly underneath my chicken patty. Given the dry and dense biscuit, more of it (especially a biscuit wash) would have helped.

Conclusion:

I didn’t dislike Wendy’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, but it wasn’t as “yummy” as one of my similarly fast food-obsessed coworkers claimed. Unless McDonald’s or Burger King is your only fast food option, I’d stick with the tried and true chains that have been doing chicken biscuit sandwiches for more than two seconds.

Purchased Price: $3.39
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 500 calories, 29 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of fiber, 9 gram of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Breakfast Baconator

Wendy s Breakfast Baconator

What is Wendy’s Breakfast Baconator?

A pre-10 a.m. take on Wendy’s famed Baconator hamburger, this walk-of-shame variation features grilled sausage, American cheese, a flattened egg, and enough Applewood smoked bacon to choke a hog. It’s also topped with a Swiss cheese sauce and served to you with a coffee and a smile.

How is it?

Take what you think you know about breakfast sandwiches and beat it into salty submission. While the Breakfast Baconator might not look as jam-packed as, say, some monstrosity from Carl’s Jr., Wendy’s has somehow managed to pack quite a bit of grotesquely gorgeous morningside taste in its bid for total breakfast domination.

Besides the requisite slab of fried egg and cut of grilled sausage — nicely done, by the way — the two distinctly separate layers of Applewood smoked bacon, while definitely the definition of “too much,” work perfectly for the breakfast sandwich. It might be even better than the lunchtime variety. And while the Swiss cheese sauce was somewhat lighter than expected, the two slices of American cheese make up for it, giving this pile of meat a surprising bite from the dairy.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Wendy s Breakfast Baconator 2

With so much bacon — I counted eight strips on mine — the salt in this sandwich is mouth-puckeringly strong. I say skip the hash browns and order an extra cup of coffee instead. You’ll need it way more, even after the Breakfast Baconator is a belching memory.

Conclusion:

Calorically rich in its Applewood smoked goodness, it really is a perfect-enough fast food breakfast and quite obviously the cornerstone of Wendy’s burgeoning breakfast menu, which, at least in my part of the country, could be considered fightin’ words. I mean, have you seen those Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits?

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
?Rating: 8 out of 10
?Nutrition Facts: 730 calories, 50 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 280 milligrams of cholesterol, 1750 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 7 grams of total sugars, and 34 grams of protein

REVIEW: Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic

Wendy s Big Bacon Classic

Despite thousands of radio stations, playlists, and aging boomer cover bands, most people concede there is no one uniform, authoritative definition of Classic Rock. Some say it has to be from the 60s or 70s; others that it has to feature certain guitar rifts; some claim that in its truest form that Classic Rock can’t include anything but British bands. Classic, it seems, is at least somewhat in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.

Such might also be said of the classic bacon cheeseburger.

Cheddar? Blue Cheese? Applewood smoked or peppered bacon? Lettuce, tomato, and onion? Or just meat, cheese, and bacon? That’s not even saying anything of the condiments or bun choice.

Wendy’s latest burger offering, the Big Bacon Classic, attempts to answer that question by adding Applewood Smoked Bacon to a Dave’s Single. Groundbreaking, I know, except for the fact that it originally debuted in 1992.

Wendy s Big Bacon Classic Toppings

Like most premium fast food burgers these days, Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic looks impressive out of the wrapper. With a quarter-pound of beef, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, mayo, and onions, it has enough heft to inspire confidence without being unwieldy.

I got the burger twice — once during the lunch hour and once in the evening and from two separate Wendy’s.

The first time, I couldn’t get past an off-flavor that was a little bit burnt and a little bit woodsy (having once bitten through a twig roasting a marshmallow, I know these things). Thinking I hit a bad piece of bacon, I took another bite. But I got the same off-flavor result.

Wendy s Big Bacon Classic Split

Unsure which part of the burger was causing the weirdly unpleasant taste, I tested the components individually, and found nothing wrong with them. Everything was fresh and in its proper portion, although the bacon coverage wasn’t as great as “big” leads you to believe. Still, it had a nice smoky flavor and was rendered perfect by fast food standards, with the right balance of fat, crunch, and smoke.

Since I wasn’t sure if the weird off-flavor of my burger was an inherent flaw or some kind of ingredient or handling issue confined to time and place, I got another one later in the week.

Wendy s Big Bacon Classic Bacon

My second was, from a cheeseburger perspective, much better than the first, with a juicy and hot patty dripping with juices and fat, oozing up the cheese. However, its bacon was rather quiet and this time overcooked, although the off and distracting flavor was gone.

Despite being a really good fast food cheeseburger, it didn’t taste better than a well-executed Dave’s Single, which you can get for less than half the price if you’re ordering off the 2 for $5 menu.

All in all, the Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic was good but a bit of a letdown when executed well, and a major disappointment when executed poorly. A good-looking burger with good individual ingredients, to me, it’s classic only in the sense that it’s a classic case of inconsistent execution in fast food.

Purchased Price: $5.59
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 640 calories, 40 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams trans fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of fiber, 8 gram of sugar, and 34 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Birthday Cake Frosty Cookie Sundae

Wendy s Birthday Cake Frosty Cookie Sundae

Woo, it’s Sagittarius season y’all!

Happy 50th Birthday to Wendy’s and golden birthday to me! I was delighted I was able to celebrate with the fast food chain’s new Birthday Cake Frosty Cookie Sundae.

Fifty revolutions around the sun is a pretty big deal, but it’s an even bigger deal because this birthday cake flavor is the first new Frosty flavor since the controversial vanilla launch in 2006.

While the cookie sundae concept may seem new, it’s not. There was a collab with Ghirardelli earlier this year featuring chocolate chip cookie chunks and G’s chocolate sauce. But, everything always seems more festive with rainbow sprinkles. So, this b-day version of the cookie sundae features rainbow sprinkles and sugar cookie bits.

Wendy s Birthday Cake Frosty Cookie Sundae Spoonful

I appreciate that Wendy’s is very transparent in describing in the production description that it’s “our creamy vanilla Frosty mixed with the flavor of classic birthday cake” because that’s exactly what it tastes like. I was able to discern it was not quite the vanilla one, but the birthday cake flavoring was relatively subtle.

Wendy s Birthday Cake Frosty Cookie Sundae Cookie Closeup

It just tasted sweeter to me, but maybe sweeter vanilla is all birthday cake is! I liked the texture from the sugar cookies and sprinkles, but that’s about all they added. The cookie itself was a tad eggy for my liking, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker.

I know I sound like a harsh critic, but my gold standard is Christina Tosi’s Milk B’ day Cake. Wendy’s didn’t come close to reaching that level, BUT at a fraction of the price/time without being an actual cake, it’s solid.

Although Wendy’s is technically a Scorpio with a founded date of 11/15/1969, I’m glad it was started and that the Vanilla Frosty came to be about 13 years ago. Without those two things happening, this birthday cake sundae maybe wouldn’t have existed for this limited time!

Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 410 Calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 64 grams of carbohydrates, 47 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.