Wendy’s menu replaces beloved item with something new

McDonald’s and Burger King have an inherent advantage over Wendy’s: Both of those chains have an iconic signature sandwich that has massive consumer recognition.

McDonald’s has the Big Mac, which it has leveraged to launch the heavily hyped Double Big Mac, which in turn has become a viral social-media sensation. Burger King arguably has done the best job exploiting its signature sandwich, the Whopper.

Related: Beloved McDonald’s menu item returns, but at Wendy’s

Restaurant Brands International’s  (QSR)  Burger King has used its signature burger in dozens of ways. That effort has included a near-endless run of branded Whoppers like the Angry Whopper and the current Candied Bacon Whopper, as well as using the franchise to create the Impossible Whopper, the only successful plant-based burger at a U.S. fast-food chain. 

Wendy’s (WEN) does not have a burger that equals the iconic level of fame achieved by McDonald’s’  (MCD)  Big Mac and the Whopper. Wendy’s does have the Baconator, but that sandwich dates back only to 2007 while the Whopper first hit menus in 1957 and the Big Mac followed 10 years later in 1967.

Arguably, Wendy’s has one signature product, the Frosty, which it introduced in 1969. Not quite a shake, but not fully ice cream, it’s a bizarre treat that’s unlike anything offered elsewhere in the fast-food universe.

For decades, the Frosty came only in chocolate. In 2006 Wendy’s franchisees added a second Frosty machine, which enabled the chain to add the vanilla Frosty. 

The strawberry Frosty has become a recurring summer flavor.

Image source: Wendy’s

Wendy’s adds a new Frosty flavor

With only two Frosty machines at each restaurant, Wendy’s can offer only two flavors of the iconic treat at a time. The chain considers the chocolate Frosty sacrosanct, so vanilla goes away when a new flavor gets introduced.

Wendy’s has replaced vanilla with strawberry each of the past few summers and has tried other seasonal flavors as well. Now, Wendy’s has a new winter Frosty flavor planned, and that means vanilla will be sidelined once again.

“Wendy’s is bringing a new orange Dreamsicle Frosty on March 13 and I cannot wait to try this!” the Snackolator Instagram page reported. “Multiple stores have confirmed this will be dropping that week, and it would appear this will replace the Vanilla Frosty for those who love the Vanilla one.”

Orange Dreamsicle is a new flavor that the chain has not offered before.

Wendy’s bets on value and innovation

Wendy’s has mixed new products with value as a way to keep customers visiting its restaurants. Chief Executive Todd Penegor discussed the strategy during the company’s third-quarter-earnings call.

“We once again leaned into our ownable platforms, new products, and partnerships during the third quarter,” he said. “The launch of our loaded nacho cheeseburger and fries, continued innovation on the Frosty line with strawberry and pumpkin spice flavor, our BOGO for $1 promotion, and our ongoing partnership with college football all supported our progress.”

The CEO expects to continue to mix menu innovation and value in 2024.

“Looking ahead to the rest of the year, you can expect more craveable innovation alongside value that supports the restaurant economic model as we run our high-low strategy,” he added.

Wendy’s has also leveraged the Frosty brand in the morning as part of its breakfast menu.

“We once again expanded our menu with the launch of our new frosty cream cold brew and English muffin sandwiches,” he said. 

“We also launched a new value offering, our two-for-three Biggie bundles, which drove a meaningful sequential sales increase following its introduction and contributed to an acceleration in breakfast sales in the back half of the quarter.” 

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