REVIEW: Wendy’s Canned Chili

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.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Ghost Pepper Ranch Chicken Sandwich

Before every fast food chain and its brother started making chicken sandwiches that were actually good, Wendy’s had it figured out. It had the logistics of a solid chicken breast fillet and a spicy version essentially perfected, at least by drive-thru standards.

A few years ago, it introduced a Ghost Pepper Ranch dipping sauce, but this is the first time that sauce has graced a chicken sandwich (unless you were savvy enough to do it yourself), and it’s now being joined by several other layers of heat and flavor. The much-loved spicy chicken breast is topped with ghost pepper-infused American cheese, ghost pepper and ranch-seasoned crispy onions, lettuce, tomato, and ghost pepper ranch sauce.

My first impression of this sandwich, both times I tried it, was that it looked exceptionally well put together. The buns were glossy and not squashed, the cheese nicely melted, the mostly unnecessary vegetable toppings fresh looking, the fried onions abundant and still crispy, the chicken breast devoid of any weirdness, and everything properly sauced with a little extra spilling out onto the wrapper for good measure. Ghosts can be tricky things though, so let’s not get caught up in appearances. Sure, it looks good and innocent enough, but how does it taste?

I’m happy to report it tastes as good as it looks! It probably isn’t as spicy as the moniker sets you up for, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. This isn’t a demon sandwich; it’s more of a gentle haunting, and did we really expect anything more from Wendy’s? The heat never smacks you in the face, nor does it linger long. It’s pleasantly spicy and might make you want to sip your drink, but if you happened to eat it in the absence of any beverages, it wouldn’t leave you with your mouth on fire.

Since my sandwiches were evenly sauced, it wasn’t easy to try the ghost pepper cheese on its own, but from the small unsauced portion I got, I did think the cheese was flavorful and not your standard American. There’s a generous portion of onions that also aren’t particularly spicy, but they are crunchy, zesty, and a welcome addition. I have nothing against ranch, but it isn’t something that typically calls to me. It’s not my preferred dipping sauce or even salad dressing, but I really enjoyed this version. It has a nice buttermilk taste, and the ghost pepper plus extra herbs take it in a more interesting direction.

For as many times as “ghost pepper” is mentioned in the description, I could see people being disappointed in this if they wanted serious spice. If you temper your expectations and if you’re a fan of Wendy’s spicy chicken, consider this a very solid, kicked up version that won’t give you nightmares.

Purchased Price: $6.89
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 690 calories, 35 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.27 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1650 milligrams of sodium, 61 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 gram of dietary fiber, 7 grams of total sugars, and 32 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad

Years ago, I used to order Wendy’s salads fairly often. That was in the dark time before I became aware of the wonderful, fiber-rich elixir that is Wendy’s Chili. Sometimes in the years since, I would look at Wendy’s menu to see what new salads it had come out with, strawberry-this and arugula-that, would say, “hmm, interesting,” and go back to devouring my piping hot concoction of beany bliss.

But it just came out with a Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad, and I’ve always had a positive impression of Cobb salad; it’s the kind of salad I think I would like to order in a diner if I could ever resist ordering pancakes in a diner. I’ve always felt that hard-boiled eggs don’t get nearly enough recognition for how nutritious and tasty they are, and this is a good usage of them. I had this salad twice: once with bacon and once without. I would tell you why this happened, but it’s more fun to leave it a mystery — let’s just say mistakes were made.

This salad, which Wendy’s PR claims to have spent copious time and energy developing, includes grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, chopped tomatoes, crispy fried onions, diced egg, ranch dressing, and Wendy’s signature lettuce blend. It also has cheese shreds, which the press release does not name, but they’re in there. The only thing that’s a little surprising here is the crispy fried onions, which are not a typical Cobb salad ingredient, but they do add a welcome bit of crunch.

Normally I’m pretty stingy with dressing on my salads to keep the calorie count down, but here, I was pretty liberal with the ranch because I know that’s part of the experience. See what I endure in the name of science? The result was about as indulgent as you can get while still technically eating salad.

The tomatoes tasted nice and fresh, which was an excellent start. The applewood smoked bacon is absolutely delicious and good in all the ways that bacon should be, but you don’t get that much of it, so it makes less of a difference to the end product than I thought it would. What does matter, and it matters a lot, is the chicken. It’s moist without being slimy and pleasantly salty without being over-seasoned. And Wendy’s gives you A LOT of chicken; I kept finding pieces hiding among the lettuce long after I thought I had finished all of it. Now, is this the same grilled chicken Wendy’s currently uses for all its salads? Probably, but if so, it’s a lot better than I remember from when I ate the salads a lot.

The only ingredient that doesn’t really work here is the cheese. The ranch and the eggs steal the show as the “fatty” components, leaving the bland cheese with nothing to do.

I probably won’t order it again soon, but that’s because, after this one little dalliance, I remain in a committed relationship with Wendy’s Chili; otherwise, I probably would. It’s nothing exciting, but it’s a reliable classic done right.

Purchased Price: $7.99
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Salad w/ranch dressing) 680 calories, 50 grams of fat, 12.5 grams of saturated fat, 270 milligrams of cholesterol, 1340 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap

For a minute there it was a wrap on fast food wraps.

Sure, you could easily get sixty-four wrap-adjacent offerings at Taco Bell or wrap-ish Gyros at Arby’s, but the rest of the wraps got scrapped.

McDonald’s axed my beloved Crispy Chicken Ranch Snack Wraps years ago. BK seems to flirt with everything but wraps, even going so far as to try gross Jack in the Box taco clones. I went to KFC the other day and it apparently already stopped selling its new snack wraps.

Where are the wraps?!

They’re at Wendy’s. Well, one is at Wendy’s, at least. After years of a wrap-less menu, Wendy’s is back with a Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap.

Perhaps it’s just me, but wraps are completely necessary for a fast-food menu. Sometimes I want a lazy bite to eat that’ll fill me up but won’t bog me down, and a grilled chicken wrap seems like the perfect answer. Wendy’s almost gets it right here, but it needs some adjustments.

First of all, the wrap itself is a weird size. It’s somehow too big and too small at the same time. If the wrap was stuffed with chicken, it would be too big, but since it was mostly stuffed with lettuce, it’s too small. This was about as much of a messy salad as it was a chicken wrap.

I mean, outside of that, it’s essentially what you think it is. I wouldn’t say Wendy’s necessarily excels at grilled chicken, but for something like this, it makes more sense. My chicken pieces were a little on the chewy and slimy side, if I’m being honest, and while I don’t opt for its grilled fare much, that’s kinda always been my experience with it. Would I have preferred fried chicken? Absolutely, but I also like the idea of a healthier meal when it comes to a wrap.

There’s plenty of ranch dressing and probably not enough cheddar, but it wouldn’t matter because all that would just get swallowed up by the head of lettuce. Again, while the wrap is bigger than the typical “snack” wraps, it’s not very substantial because most of it is tortilla and ruffage.

If this was smaller at a lower price point, I’d like it more. If it was dense with chicken like a burrito, I’d like it more. As it is, it’s just passable and probably not worth your time or money.

So, I’m happy to see a wrap back on the Wendy’s menu, but I wish it was something I could just swing by and get as a midday snack. These don’t hold a candle to the late McDonald’s Crispy Chicken Snack Wraps, but few things do.

My recommendation would be to wait and see if the line expands. Maybe there will be a spicy variety soon, and I could see that easily being superior. For now, there are much better chicken options to get at Wendy’s.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 420 calories, 16 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1230 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of total sugars, 2 grams of fiber, and 27 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Peppermint Frosty

Wendy s Peppermint Frosty Cup

My gym’s cardio room stares directly at a Wendy’s – dead central, right in your face, can’t miss it.

There’s no better cardiovascular inspiration than accepting that you’re almost certainly getting fast food the minute your workout is over. It’s embarrassing how many times I’ve tricked my brain into pretending a 6-piece nugget is just as good as a protein shake.

It’s all good, though, because staring at that building has propelled me to run* 12 miles** at a time in preparation. (*walk **1.5 miles.)

Anyway, a few days ago, while plodding along at breakneck speeds upwards of 4, and fighting the inevitable call of that redheaded siren, I noticed Wendy’s had an entirely new seasonal menu. There were new burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, and the pièce de résistance – a Peppermint Frosty.

That’s… kinda like a protein shake. There’s milk, right? Naturally, I immediately fired up my app and had one ready and waiting.

While I found Wendy’s recent Strawberry Frosty to be “mid,” I gotta say, its Peppermint Frosty is a Yuletide miracle. Whereas “mid” meant “meh” in Strawberry’s case, I’ll use it here as the ultimate compliment. The Peppermint Frosty is a perfect middle ground between vanilla and mint-flavored ice creams.

I’m a mint ice cream lover, but I feel it can sometimes start to taste like you’re chewing gum after a couple of scoops. This had just enough peppermint flavor to balance off the vanilla base.

Wendy s Peppermint Frosty Top

The texture was everything I wanted a Frosty to be – not quite shake, not quite ice cream, with enough tiny ice crystals for that distinctly gritty Frosty consistency.

The faint pink color is even a midway point between a Vanilla Frosty and the Pepto-esque Strawberry.

This Frosty is perfectly balanced, as all things should be. If Thanos had one, he would’ve never snapped. I genuinely think everyone will enjoy this. Some might say the peppermint flavor isn’t big enough, but ya know what I say? If you want a mint bomb, brush your teeth!

Wendy s Peppermint Frosty Spoon

Actually, brush your teeth anyway. Proper hygiene is always encouraged, and this is so good even the 5th dentist agreed he enjoyed it.

I’m ready to put the Peppermint Frosty on my Wendy’s Mount Run-more. There’s no doubt I’ll have a few more of these after my rigorous sprints (slightly inclined walks), but I won’t even feel guilty about it.

Wendy s Peppermint Frosty Bottom Cup

This will almost certainly be a limited holiday release, which is a shame, but the recent new Frosty flavor drops are very encouraging. I hope Wendy takes a cue from the Oreo and Kit-Kats of the world and puts out a unique Frosty flavor every month moving forward. I know international Wendy’s have dabbled. Give us a Peanut Butter Frosty. Salted Caramel. Banana! Whatever! Just keep ’em coming.

Add a topping bar while you’re at it. I’m still waiting for Wendy’s HQ to hit me up about my brilliant “Wendy’s Blendies” idea. This Peppermint Frosty is an all-timer, but it may be even better with little crunchy candy cane bits.

Ok, time for me to get back to “the gym.”

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: Small
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 330 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 35 mg of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of total carbohydrates, 50 grams of sugars, 0 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein.