REVIEW: Wendy’s Berry Almond Chicken Salad

Wendy's Berry Almond Chicken Salad

Upon hearing about the subject of my latest review, a friend said to me, “fast food salad = irony.” I didn’t know how to react to that because, despite my zealotry for good grammar, I still have no sense as to when something is actually ironic. All I know is, A) every time I use the word irony, someone is sure to tell me I’m wrong, and B) calling something ironic and calling someone Hitler are somehow equally effective at starting internet comment board flame wars.

So is it ironic that a fast food place makes salads? Would it be ironic for a fast food place to make a really good salad? What if the fast food place were called “We Make Terrible Salads”? And all they played for background music were Alanis Morissette songs, but never “Ironic”?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I do know that Wendy’s new Berry Almond Chicken Salad is absolutely delicious. I recently ordered the full-size salad for lunch. A pre-made serving of greens and berries had been sitting in the fridge in the back, but the chicken was freshly cut and added, and I received the almonds and dressing in separate packages.

Wendy's Berry Almond Chicken Salad Dressing

As you can see from the photo, the salad included hearty servings of strawberries and blueberries, and the fruits’ texture and color suggested that they were fresh and never frozen. The greens were crisp and seemed to have a solid assortment, though I have no idea if there were truly 11 varieties, as the Wendy’s website claims. Asking me to pick out a dozen types of greens is like asking me to name a dozen Alanis Morissette songs. (Actually, I might be able to do that. It’s more like asking me to name a dozen Alanis Morissette ex-boyfriends. Ryan Reynolds, Uncle Joey from Full House… you know what, let’s just say I can’t name that many greens, OK?)

The warm and appropriately-sized chicken wedges were juicy and flavorful, which was to be expected since the chicken was just a diced up breast from one of Wendy’s regularly tasty chicken sandwiches. The asiago cheese shavings added some sharpness without being overpowering, and the almonds contributed much-needed crunch and a subtle nuttiness to the salad. I thought the only thing that didn’t really work was the raspberry vinaigrette; it wasn’t tart enough to bring a new taste dimension to the table, and its sweetness just sort of distracted my attention from the real stars, the strawberries and blueberries.

Another complaint: the salad container was packed to the brim, and I imagine most people will have a very difficult time tossing this salad without spilling anything. Also, by not addressing this salad-tossing problem and thereby compelling me to mention it, Wendy’s has forced me to use a lot of self-restraint in not making any salad-tossing jokes. Luckily, I’ve managed to get to this paragraph’s back end without any slips of my tongue. (…goddammit.)

On the positive side again, the Berry Almond Chicken Salad contains only 450 calories and 16 grams of fat. $6.99 might feel pretty expensive for any item on a fast food menu, but it is tasty and filling enough to be worth the price. I would definitely recommend you go out and try it. And if a normally salad-phobic, fast-food-burger-loving guy strongly recommending a fast food salad isn’t ironic, then I don’t know what is. (No, but seriously. I really have to figure this irony thing out.)

(Nutrition Facts – Full size – 450 calories, 150 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1300 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 31 grams of sugar, 38 grams of protein, 80% vitamin A, 70% vitamin C, 30% calcium, and 15% iron.)

Item: Wendy’s Berry Almond Chicken Salad
Price: $6.99
Size: Full size
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Lots of fresh strawberries and blueberries. Crisp and varied greens. Chicken was warm, juicy, and flavorful. Asiago cheese added sharpness and almonds added crunch. Only 450 calories and 16 grams of fat. Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” was about Uncle Joey.
Cons: Raspberry vinaigrette didn’t really work. Pretty pricey. Salad was hard to toss. I have no self-restraint. Not understanding irony. Comment board flame wars.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets

Prior to the creation of chicken nuggets, the only nuggets I’d ever known were those that have either the word “gold” or “nose” attached to them. When chicken nuggets first appeared on my sectioned school lunch tray, I was confused because I was told, unlike gold and nose nuggets, one didn’t need to do any digging in order to obtain them.

Since then, I’ve seen chicken nuggets more often than the others. This is probably due to nose nuggets being contained in Kleenex and gold being mostly seen in rapper chain/tooth form than in nugget form. As for chicken nuggets, I see them every time I walk through the frozen food aisle and, recently, whenever I pass by a Wendy’s, thanks to the huge window decal for their new Spicy Chicken Nuggets.

The Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets are made from white breast meat chicken, coated with Japanese-style breadcrumbs (panko) and packed with a number of spices like red peppers, chili peppers, turmeric, paprika and ground mustard seeds.

This orgy of spices may sound like the result of a McCormick spice factory explosion or Remy the rat from Ratatouille cooking while high on heroin, but the combination does give these chicken nuggets a nice amount of spice.

The heat didn’t immediately hit me, but instead slowly built up as I chewed my way through the carton of deep fried panko-ed goodness. If you’ve had Wendy’s Spicy Chicken sandwich, you’ll know how spicy these chicken nuggets can get. I was hoping the spices would provide the nuggets with enough flavor so that I wouldn’t need to use a dipping sauce, especially because of the use of ground mustard seeds, but that wasn’t the case.

The spices may not provide much flavor, but their heat does complement well with the variety of dipping sauces Wendy’s offers. They also have great crispy outside texture and were tender on the inside, much like their regular ones.

While I still personally prefer McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets with Hot Mustard Sauce when it comes to spicy chicken nuggets, I have to say these Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets are a tasty second option.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 pieces – 230 calories, 15 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 690 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein, 4% vitamin C and 2% iron.)

Item: Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets
Price: $1.49 (Paid with a gift card I received from Wendy’s)
Size: 6-pieces
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Nice amount of heat. No trans fats. Crispy exterior. Tender interior. Kleenex. Finding gold nuggets. Eating chicken nuggets.
Cons: Spices didn’t provide flavor. Remy high on heroin. Spice factory explosions. Eating nose nuggets.