REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich

Wendy's Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich

Why don’t more fast food chains utilize the croissant?

I mean, everyone loves croissants. From the buttery, flaky layers to that rich aftertaste and the feeling of international sophistication you get when rolling the “oi” to create what might pass as a French word, croissants are hard to hate on.

There is, it turns out, a lot of good reasons why croissants get shafted in fast food development. They smoosh easily, they’re incompatible with burgers, and their lineage is much more developed in the deli spectrum.

Perhaps that’s what makes Wendy’s new Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich so intriguing. Not only does it capitalize on the popularity of the sweet and salty fried chicken applications – pairing a maple glaze with Wendy’s homestyle chicken breast and Applewood smoked bacon – but it also uses a “flaky croissant bun” as the anchor.

Wendy's Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich 2

Forgetting for a second that the artistic representation of Wendy’s croissant bun looks like the emoji for dog poop (SORRY BUT IT’S TRUE), the bun fails to make the sandwich. More like a spongy brioche than a flaky croissant, it lacks the rich croissant aftertaste or light, airy texture. Perhaps most telling, it doesn’t stand out when paired with the heavy ingredients.

And yeah, those other ingredients are heavy. It’s not that Wendy’s homestyle chicken breast is terrible, it’s that its spice blend, extra crispy texture, and saltiness dominate the sandwich. The bacon and swiss cheese are, as they usually are at Wendy’s, on point as individual ingredients, but as a whole sandwich, they come together in a salty, somewhat meaty, and weirdly sweet way that gives new meaning to ambivalence.

Wendy's Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich 3

Weirdly sweet is, I think, an apt description for the maple glaze. The sweetness is muted, cut by a bit of butter and a dissatisfying bite of apple cider vinegar. What you’re left with is a viscous fluid that doesn’t know if it wants to be a salad dressing, a baste, or drizzle-on-pancake maple syrup. If a sweet and salty sensation is supposed to awaken your taste buds, this is more like hitting the snooze 4 or 5 times before stumbling out of bed.

Wendy's Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich 4

Ultimately, Wendy’s misses the mark when it comes to the Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich. Heavy, salty, and without any relief, it’s not so much a guilty pleasure as it is a slightly underwhelming representation of chicken and waffles. And, let’s be real — a fast food croissant “bun” ain’t no waffle.

Purchased Price: $5.69
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 680 calories, 34 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 125 milligrams of cholesterol, 1450 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 41grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 38 grams of protein.

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QUICK REVIEW: Wendy’s S’Awesome Bacon Classic

Wendy's S'Awesome Bacon Classic

What is Wendy’s S’Awesome Bacon Classic?

I guess I’m out of the Wendy’s loop because I wasn’t even aware of its S’Awesome sauce that was introduced a year or so ago. Either way, the chain has slathered it on one of its classic burgers, thrown on some bacon slices, and released it to the public as the S’Awesome Bacon Classic.

How is it?

Wendy's S'Awesome Bacon Classic 2

Eager to try what the advertising calls a “sweet, smoky, tangy sauce” on my single-size burger, I couldn’t really taste it over the heavy saltiness of the bacon. I peeked under the bun and saw a very thin, practically non-existent spread of S’Awesome across the bread. At this point, to me, it tasted like a bacon burger that cost a bit too much at $5.19.

However, I got brave and went to the counter and requested a small cup of S’Awesome sauce which they generous acquiesced to. I used it as a dipping sauce for my burger, which made all the difference in the world. A little dab won’t do. You need a deluge of sauce to get the full power of S’Awesome, which I’m all for.

Is there anything else I need to know?

In addition to the single variety that I purchased, there’s also a double and triple if you need that much Wendy’s meat in your life. There’s also the calorically dangerous S’Awesome Bacon Fries, covered in chunky bacon and S’Awesome sauce. (I’d love to see the S’Awesome sauce as a goopy baked potato topping. That would be truly S’Awesome.)

Conclusion:

Wendy's S'Awesome Bacon Classic 3

What I’m slowly learning is that, when it comes to these sauce-heavy sandwiches, it’s completely up to the sandwich-maker how much they’re going to put on it. In this case, surprisingly any. But, by requesting a cup of S’Awesome sauce and remedying a small manufacturing error, it made Wendy’s S’Awesome Bacon Classic a tasty little burger. However, next time I might get a free cup of S’Awesome sauce and Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger and call it a day.

Purchased Price: $5.19
Size: Single
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 640 calories, 40 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1390 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 34 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Harvest Chicken Salad

Wendy s Harvest Chicken Salad

You know that meme that says “name a more iconic duo” and then hits you with a pic of anything from Keenan and Kel to a guy jumping off a bridge with another guy watching the Cleveland Browns?

I tend to think apples and walnuts fall into that category of stuff that belongs together.

Apples, walnuts, feta, bacon, chicken, and cranberries? Now we’re complicating things. Perhaps that’s why I’m ambivalent towards Wendy’s new Harvest Chicken Salad, which not only attempts to Noah’s Ark-it out of pretty much every Wendy’s salad ingredient but also skates a little too close to the regular-menu Apple Pecan Chicken Salad.

Wendy s Harvest Chicken Salad Fruits

I don’t mean to imply Wendy’s homage to autumn-in-salad-form isn’t good. Like most of Wendy’s salads, the ingredients push into fast casual territory. Skin-on red and green apples are crispy and mildly sweet; the chicken juicy and slightly smoky; the vinaigrette tangy and a tad bit tart. Add in crunchy, meaty glazed pecans (which were left off the first full-sized salad I ordered, unfortunately), and you’re looking at a filling meal.

Wendy s Harvest Chicken Salad Bacon

But then there’s the bacon, complicating things. It’s not bad in and of itself since, duh, it’s a scientific impossibility that bacon detracts from anything and because Wendy’s makes really good bacon -— thick cut, substantial, with a great balance of fat and smoke. But I have no idea why it’s on this salad. Not only did it arrive on my full-size salad (I bought another half-sized one later since Wendy’s forgot my walnuts) in strips meant for sandwiches, but it took away the spotlight from the apples and walnuts.

Much like the bacon, the feta cheese feels out of place, like me when I show up to a wine and cheese party with a six pack of Shinerbock. Perhaps Wendy’s didn’t want to infringe on the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, but the salty, mostly flavorless feta lacks the tang and funk of blue cheese that helps complement the apples. Even goat cheese would have been a better option than feta, especially since it’s tangy and has a slight sweetness that would have played well with the oddly-included dried cranberries.

Wendy s Harvest Chicken Salad Closeup

I’m usually a big fan of Wendy’s salads, and while I loved the quality of the ingredients featured in the Harvest Chicken Salad, I can’t deny there’s a genuine lack of cohesion binding the salad together. Is it jump off a bridge because the Browns still haven’t won since 2016 dysfunctional? Goodness no. But when your iconic duo gets lost amidst even well executed extra ingredients, it’s time to get back to your bread and butter — or apples and walnuts.

(Nutrition Facts – Full Size – 570 calories, 23 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1300 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 37 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, and 23 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.79
Size: Full
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Apples are surprisingly crisp and flavorful for a prepackaged salad. Great execution on individual ingredients, especially the juicy chargrilled chicken. Meme potential in the apple and walnut combination.
Cons: Too many ingredients crowding up that apple and walnut synergy. Feta cheese is a real disappointment. Why are their cranberries in this salad? Botched salad construction.

QUICK REVIEW: Wendy’s Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Wendy s Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich

What is it?

Wendy’s latest budget sandwich fix. The Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich is a lightly breaded chicken patty smothered in Buffalo ranch sauce, topped with lettuce and a slice of Monterey Jack cheese, and served on a warm bun.

How is it?

My initial reaction when picking it up was that it felt very substantial for a buck, and indeed, it delivers. Wendy’s didn’t skimp on the sauce, which has a balanced creamy and spicy presence to it that comes through on every single bite.

Wendy s Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich 3

The chicken tastes more “real” and authentic than the coveted McChicken, and while the sauce does most of the driving on the overall flavor, the patty is moist and crisp and does everything it should to bring the protein foundation for this spiced up cheap thrill.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Wendy s Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich 2

As is the case with a lot of fast food sandwiches, the cheese didn’t add much and wasn’t fully melted sitting against the cold crisp lettuce. Initially, I was stoked to get a sandwich with cheese for such a cheap price, but I couldn’t really taste it and, in the absence of melty texture, it’s pretty unnecessary.

Conclusion:

While it’s a far cry from Wendy’s fantastic Homestyle Chicken Sandwich, that deep fries a whole chicken breast, the Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich is a terrific chicken sandwich for the price.

It’s salty and creamy with enough spice to be satisfying without needing ample cups of water to survive. Wendy’s continues its tradition of offering some of the best chicken in fast food land and have a solid soldier to put forth in the budget battle of value menu supremacy.

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: N/A
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 360 calories, 19 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1020 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Berry Burst Chicken Salad

Wendy s Berry Burst Chicken Salad

As a marketing writer for a semi-large organization, and as a perpetual bullshitter, I tend to appreciate the subtle ability of words to transform the same old thing into something completely different.

Let’s put our cards on the table: a straight description doesn’t work anymore. Nobody wants what is. Everyone wants what is ideal.

Case in point, what was the Wendy’s Berry Almond Chicken Salad seven years ago became the Summer Berry Chicken Salad two years ago and now has morphed into the Berry Burst Chicken Salad.

Granted, there are some slight variations, but who actually remembers a slight switcheroo in a cheese or a berry or a dressing?

For what it’s worth, what is basically the same salad from 2011 and 2016 is still delicious. Although, perhaps to stay consistent with the times, we should say it’s still delicious AF. Regardless, the salad has that rare ability to make you stop and say, “Wait, that came from Wendy’s?

Wendy s Berry Burst Chicken Salad 4

If you still haven’t had Wendy’s revamped grilled chicken, which debuted two years ago, get with the times, man. It’s juicy, succulent, and it has flavor like something grilled on one of those short-season Food Network summer grilling shows. I can’t believe I just said that about white meat. Anyways, the chicken is more than passable and a few notches above any pre-packed salad you’d find in the grocery store.

Wendy s Berry Burst Chicken Salad 3

I was really impressed with the berries, particularly the strawberries, which had a slightly macerated taste and texture that was sweet without being cloying or overripe. The blueberries were by and large plump and ripe, their modest sweetness pairing nicely against the salty feta cheese. Both the cheese and the smoky, crunchy almonds, give the salad a hearty feel — perhaps even a burst.

The biggest drawbacks are the dressing and the amount of lettuce. The sweetness of the dressing tends to be a little too much with the berries. It’s like putting ketchup on my ketchup flavored potato chips -— both delicious, less so together. As for the lettuce, I feel like Elaine Benes might be cool with it, but when I’m fairly full and there’s still a forest staring back at me, sans chicken and berries, the ratio is a little off.

Wendy s Berry Burst Chicken Salad 2

I told myself I wasn’t going to look at the past reviews of Wendy’s Chicken/Almond/Berry salad combos when scoring the Berry Burst Chicken Salad. Well, lo and behold I have no self-control and saw past scores of 8 and 9. Given that nothing much has changed, but more importantly, given that this is still a great salad, a 9 seems more than appropriate.

(Nutrition Facts – Full size – 460 calories, 17 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 1090 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 29 grams of sugar, 7 grams of fiber, and 41 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.79
Size: Full size
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: “Lots of fresh strawberries and blueberries” — literally ripped this line from the 2011 review, which is still applicable. Grilled chicken is a step above 2011 version. Well composed salad with super fresh ingredients. Crunchy almonds and feta cheese create good contrasts in flavors and textures.
Cons: Raspberry vinaigrette is like putting ketchup on ketchup potato chips. A little too much greenery. Lingering debate over the connotation of “chicken salad” vs. “salad with chicken.”

REVIEW: Wendy’s Southwest Avocado Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Salad

Wendy s Southwest Avocado Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Salad

The American Southwest, a lone desert highway…

The boiling Sun is high in the sky as a pair of scorpions duel in the dust. A stereotyped tumbleweed rolls across the hot asphalt and off into the sandy distance. From out of a dust devil a 1968 Mercury Cougar rumbles by, the anonymous driver tossing a barely-touched hamburger out the window…

With a loud splat, a trademarked square patty burns as the covetous mayo sizzles in the heat. A grizzled old buzzard swoops down and starts picking at the errant smokey mushrooms that’ve spread across the road…

After the moderate disappointment of Wendy’s Smoky Mushroom mistake last month, America’s favorite flame-haired burger baroness and her hamburger-haranguing crew have returned from their vaunted test kitchens, ready to proudly present a brand-new limited-time pollo-based product that should very well have the fat lot of us making a run for the border — any border — come lunchtime tomorrow.

Wendy s Southwest Avocado Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Salad 2

Snap those pearl-buttons tight on your favorite Navajo-print long-sleeve, tie that turquoise bolo a little bit higher than usual and do your damnedest to make room for the new Southwest Avocado Spicy Chicken Sandwich, a superb Santa Fe-inspired two-fisted tale of a sandwich that will surely satisfy the haunted hankerings of any random Ghost Rider in the Sky or hungry driver on the road.

Wendy s Southwest Avocado Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Salad 3

Wendy’s has taken their coveted spicy chicken patty — already the basis of one of the best chicken sandwiches on the market — and have brazenly topped it with pepper jack cheese, Southwest ranch sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and, best of all, a mega-dollop of creamy guacamole on a high and mighty bun that simply can’t contain all of this desert goodness.

The sheer heat of the spicy chicken provides a much-needed sensual burn, creating a tastebud dalliance with the inherent peppers and well-timed spices that definitely pleased my most masochistic palate. The cool ranch and ample supply of fresh guacamole provided a much needed balm from the burn, giving the Southwest Avocado Spicy Chicken Sandwich an absolutely perfect blend of sheer girth and delicious worth, one that devilishly transcends these “limited-time only” gimmick eats.

Wendy s Southwest Avocado Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Salad 4

Meanwhile, there is also a salad-based variation available that substitutes grilled chicken breast and adds two scoops of avocado seasoned with lime juice and salt to top off the lettuce, tomatoes, shredded pepper jack cheese, Southwest ranch dressing and, yes, applewood-smoked bacon, that makes up the most of the green concoction.

Calorically and nutritionally, while I’m not exactly sure who this salad is for — I would’ve much rather had these accoutrements on top of a steaming hot baked potato, wouldn’t you? — it’s nowhere near as bad as it probably could’ve been. It’s got a great crunch to it and the double avocado is a mean green treat, but don’t go chasing waterfalls thinking it’s a viable part of any health-based diet-plan.

The American Southwest, a lone desert highway…

As the opening riff of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” blares from the factory original stereo, a 1968 Mercury Cougar pulls over to the barren side of the road. Pulling off his shades, our hero looks down the front of his black leather jacket, most which is covered in guacamole.

“Dammit…” he laments as he can’t find a clean napkin in his Wendy’s bag. With mild shame, he starts licking it clean, but it’s finally worth it. Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – Sandwich – 690 calories, 34 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1480 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fiber, and 38 grams of protein. Salad (Full) – 600 calories 41 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 135 milligrams of sodium, 1220 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, 7 grams of fiber, and 42 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.79 (sandwich) $6.69 (salad)
Size: N/A
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Sandwich)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Salad)
Pros: Extra spicy. Surprisingly large portions. Doesn’t skimp on the guacamole
Cons: The salad is kind of pointless, would’ve worked better on a baked potato.