1. Wendy’s New Baked Sweet Potato – A Review!

    LONGTIME readers of this blog know that today on a whim I decided to head over to Wendy’s for lunch.

    Once there I decided to try one of their new “Signature Sides” – not because I wanted it, but because I knew you’ve been anxious to read my take on it.

    “Ted,” so many of you, what, six regulars have written, “Ted, have you had any of Wendy’s new ‘Signature Sides,’ and if so, tell us, what’s the verdict?”

    So I decided I’d give one of them a try, presuming as I do that you’ll reimburse me for the cost. (You will reimburse me for the cost, right?)

    The verdict is in! Wendy’s new Baked Sweet Potato Signature Side was…okay. But you’ll need more to go on than that. You’ll need to know all about these things, these “Signature Sides: Baked Sweet Potato Edition” and that’s what I’m here for.

    What happens is that instead of getting a regular side with your order (fries, or …well, no one ever orders anything but fries), you can instead opt for one of their three new “Signature Sides” – the baked sweet potato, the chili cheese fries, or the macaroni and cheese.  Now as these are premium items, you’re going to be asked to go ahead and pay a Signature Sides Surcharge, or SSS, which I think is a dollar. Note that this extra cost is over and above the price of your meal.

    I’m betting the Baked Sweet Potato will be the first item to be discontinued from their new “Signature Sides” line: The other two are less healthy and therefore will be more popular in this nation of fat-asses – so try it while you can, brother! Try it while you can!

    Now, I joke about no one ordering anything other than fries for their side dish – I joke.  Because yours truly – yes, me! – frequently opts for one of their standard, baked non-sweet potatoes. (Can you believe it?!)

    In fact, I’ve always been impressed that Wendy’s offers such an item. To me, (and now you), it sets them apart from other “quick serve meal-based hospitality destinations” (their term, not mine!), and I bet its inclusion on the menu has a lot to do with Wendy’s inventor Dave Thompson being adopted and raised by someone other than his birth parents. “Think Different” was not just a Wendy’s ad campaign – it was, and is, a company-wide philosophy. My favorite poster was the one with Mr. Rogers and King Friday.

    Back to the sweet potato: its consistency was somewhat mushier and slightly more fibrous than a starchy regular baked potato. Others who have eaten baked sweet potatoes before (I was a baked sweet potato virgin!) tell me this was no anomaly: As a rule, a baked sweet potato is mushier and more fibrous than a standard baked potato, which is starchier. I feel this may have much to do with the sweet potato being adopted and then raised by someone other than its birth farmers.

    The topping (No need to bring your own – they provide it!) is some sort of sweet cinnamon-flavored oleo and comes in a wad, or dollop in a little plastic cup. The people at the Wendy’s I went to put a personal touch on my oleo dollop, imprinting part of its surface area with what I take to be a thumbprint. Exquisite! I’m not sure if this is standard across the chain or if it’s just an example of the folks at my particular franchise location “going the extra mile.”

    Many of you are wondering aloud, and I can hear you, “What if I’m not interested in an entire meal? Ted, what if I just want the baked sweet potato? Will it be available to me, and if so, at what price?” To that I respond with a resounding “Probably.” And then add emphatically “I don’t know how much it would cost.”

    Ordering the new baked sweet potato is just as easy as you please!

    Here’s how I did it: I stated my requested meal as usual at the beginning of the ordering process.  Then, near the end, right after everything had been added up and I was about to write a check for the total, I told the cast member who was taking my order “And instead of the fries…? I’d like a baked potato.” Then she punched a series of buttons on her electronic console and gave me a total (which I filled out in the amount line of my check), then I mentioned “And instead of a baked potato, I’d like a baked sweet potato.”

    That’s how I learned it costs a little more!

    I figured by the time I’d gone out to my car and fished out enough change from the ashtray and felt underneath the seats to make up the difference, those in line behind me would have had a chance to chat and rediscover the lost art of conversation with his (or her!) neighbor  – but most importantly, my order would be ready.

    Sadly, this was not the case – the only conversation (if you can even call it that) which I did hear were the muttered words “asshole” and “ridiculous” (I can’t imagine what happened in there during my seven  minute absence to so annoy everyone), and I still had to wait another twenty-five seconds or so for them to give me my tray.

    Will I order it again? I’ll try it again, sure. I realize there’s often a learning curve with a new product launch (industry term), so I’m hopeful by the next time I order one of their Baked Sweet Potatoes, Wendy’s will have worked out all the kinks and it won’t be such a goddamn hassle.

    But if it is, maybe I’ll “think different” and drive across the street to Long John Silver’s instead!

    Posted by on May 29, 2012, 3:20 AM.

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