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Wendy’s Gets a Makeover

October 15, 2012

Wendy’s (the fast food chain that is something of a literal red-headed stepchild trailing behind McDonald’s and Burger King) is the latest to completely rebrand itself in an attempt to stand out from the competition and be more than just another hamburger joint. Since last year, Wendy’s has offered trendier fare, like sandwiches on ciabatta rolls and a variety of seasonal salads. Its goal is to be seen as a “top-end” fast food restaurant.

But it’s not only changing up its menu. Beginning in March 2013, Wendy’s will also be redecorating its restaurants, complete with softer chairs and mood lighting. The uniforms will also get an overhaul with a design that will not be as “embarrassing” to the employees who have to wear it. Meanwhile,Wendy’s signature logo will still have the red-headed girl in pigtails, but she will look a bit older, while the font used to spell the name will also be more modern.

One of the primary reasons for this update is to also draw customers away from competitors like Panera Bread and Subway, whose business is booming thanks to an offering of alternatives to the usual Big Mac, Whopper and Wendy’s combos. Another main factor might just be the backlash faced by fast food franchises in the last few years due to the rising obesity panic.

Fast food is an easy and convenient target for the anti-fat brigade. They offer cheap, high-calorie, salt-laden meals, market to children, and many of fast food restaurants are located in low-income neighborhoods where there’s likely to be a higher population of fat people. But despite all the finger-pointing and blaming, millions of people still eat the food, regardless of size or status. There are also many people, thin and fat, who don’t eat fast food at all.

In fact, McDonald’s saw an increase in profits last year thanks to their McCafe lineup, which consists of frappes, smoothies and other trendy drinks. But they and other fast food chains have also tried to appease those that accuse them of making people, especially children, fatter by offering fruit and milk along with french fries and sodas in their Happy Meals.

Time will tell if the effort pays off for Wendy’s, but all the redesigns in the world aren’t going to stop the anti-obesity crusaders from making the fast food industry unattractive to consumers. And it may not get those consumers to choose that salad or that rustic sandwich when all they’re looking for is a burger and fries.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. Rubyfruit permalink
    October 15, 2012 11:18 am

    I like that last bit you said especially. A logo makeover really won’t get consumers who are looking for a burger and fries to choose the salad or the sandwich, and it’s not going to stop the crusade.
    I do kind of dig the new Wendy’s building, though. But maybe that’s because I find the glass-building architecture attractive.

  2. October 15, 2012 12:07 pm

    I’ve noticed at McDonalds that they have the calorie info posted on the drive thru menu for each menu item. Personally, I like having information and it doesn’t bother me, but I still cringe for the people who would be triggered by having the calorie counts thrust in their face.

    • Kala permalink
      October 16, 2012 12:49 am

      This is going to be the reality of any chain fast food business across the country eventually. It’s already that way where I live for all fast food, it’s on the menus. I don’t think it’s particularly unreasonable myself, I don’t think we should limit product labeling because it might trigger some. I think the benefit outweighs the harm.

  3. pjr123 permalink
    October 15, 2012 12:16 pm

    Sheesh – freedom to choose what you want to eat. What a bummer. A guy can CHOOSE to jump from a capsule 21 miles up, and that’s cool. I want fries and a Big Gulp, and nannies rush in to stop me.

  4. October 15, 2012 6:09 pm

    I know I’m going to get told off for saying this but I don’t think anyone should eat fried, greasy food that is full of fat and preservatives. Do I think it makes you fatter? No more or less than any other food. Do I think fast food is a healthy choice? Nope. Do I know that it is sometimes cheaper and more convenient than buying fresh and cooking yourself? Yup. Do I eat the stuff. Rarely. Do some people eat fast food morning, noon and night? Yup. Are they eating less healthy? I believe so. So what. That’s my belief and I live by it. But if someone wants to poison themselves on a regular basis with unhealthy food, then I guess they have as much right to that as someone who smokes, drinks too much or does any other unhealthy behaviour. But I will still stand behind my view that too much of anything is bad for you! If someone wants to beat me up verbally for it…I guess you have that right too. Do I sound defensive? I am because I’ve found that even here, my opinions are unpopular. So? I’m not telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. I’m just stating what I think and feel and do.

    • October 15, 2012 6:53 pm

      Honest healthism writ large. Me like it.:)

    • October 15, 2012 6:57 pm

      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. Too much of anything can have risks and consequences and I think that is something that we should not ignore or overlook. But I guess some people are ok with living off of fast food and risking their health for it in the long term.

      • October 16, 2012 9:34 am

        And I guess some people are okay with tanning themselves to melanoma, and some people are okay with smoking themselves to cancer or drinking themselves to cirrhosis or accidents, and some some people are okay with driving like assholes and some are okay with climbing K2, which has a 1 in 5 mortality rate, and those who return will be lucky to have all their fingers.

        I don’t think there’s a person out there who doesn’t take risks and suffer the consequences, and it’s not up to us to determine whether that is right or wrong. If you don’t want to eat fast food, don’t eat fast food, but there’s no reason to speak dismissively of one group of poor choices over another.

        I know you may not have meant it to sound that way, but it sounded a bit dismissive, like, “Well, I guess some people like to kill animals.” I don’t think anyone who eats a cheeseburger every day is ignoring or overlooking anything. How could they? We’re reminded 5,000 times a day. I think the issue is more complicated than “Some people are ok with living off of fast food and risking their health for it in the long term.” Hope I don’t offend, but I felt this needed a response.


        • October 16, 2012 11:15 am

          I don’t often agree with you, Shannon, but for the most part, I think this is spot on. We all take risks, some bigger than others, and that we need to chill out about getting on our high horses and taking down everyone that does it “wrong.”

      • October 16, 2012 11:39 am

        I agree. It sounded harsh but I was just pointing out to the person I replied to that some people do things willingly, even though they already know the risks.

        • October 16, 2012 10:02 pm

          The internet makes it impossible to detect the true tone behind the words, and the vacuum allows us to fill in the tone we attach to the words. My apologies for the harshness, but it seemed like you were doing that sort of passive aggressive “Well, if you want to slowly kill yourself” comment that people use when they haven’t convinced you to become a vegetarian/low-carb/paleo cult member like them. Not that you were pushing a cult, just that sort of sarcastic comment.

          There’s no reason that anyone should judge another person for doing something they know is unhealthy. It’s a very human condition.


    • October 15, 2012 10:49 pm

      You are entitled to your opinion.

      You are, however, sounding holier-than-a-whole-lot-of-thous. I eat Subway at least two meals every weekend I work. You don’t have to. And you can hold your opinion as strongly as you darn well please.

      If you hold that opinion to my face, however, that’s concern trolling, and I will tell you to fuck yourself. Because I’m a grown woman, making a choice, which adults can make for themselves.

      • October 16, 2012 9:44 am

        I don’t think she’s holding her opinion in anyone’s face. This is a forum to discuss our opinions on health and nutrition, as well as obesity. If Janet wants to claim that fast food is unhealthy, feel free to challenge her to back up those assertions. I think her point was that she personally believes it to be unhealthy,

        I think “poison” is a bit strong, since the health effects of a cheeseburger diet would take years, if not decades to manifest, largely (I think) due to genetic differences in processing fat. But based on what I’ve read, I believe saturated fat is definitely less healthy than mono- and poly-unsaturated fat. I also believe that the more processing, the more nutrients are stripped from the source, so fresh fruits and vegetables have a greater concentration of vitamins and minerals than highly processed foods, just by nature of processing. So, an apple is healthier than a bag of apple chips (especially one of the kinds that has fat added to it, which I’ve seen). I also know there are people who believe that saturated fat produces large, fluffy LDL cholesterol, which is healthier cholesterol, but I’m not convinced that this alone is a reason to stock up on red meat.

        In any case, these are the things I’ve come to believe based on the research I’ve read, and this should be a forum for expressing those opinions and challenging them. It does us no good to shy away from differing opinions, and if they’re wrong, that’s easy enough to establish. Instead, I prefer to the process of questioning the underlying research supporting a particular opinion. Because when I ask questions of others and they provide their evidence, then I can see what it’s actually made of, and vice versa. There’s no need for anyone to fuck themselves here. If you’ve got a theory, present it, but back it up.


        • October 16, 2012 12:19 pm

          I said IF. If someone came up to me in a Subway or wherever and told me I was eating poison, they would get a loud and profane response. Janet is entitled to her opinion here, though I dislike its holier-than-thou tone. That’s all.

          • October 16, 2012 10:04 pm

            I know your bite and I know the source of your anger, but I didn’t personally see Janet taking a holier-than-thou tone (though I bristle at the claim that any kind of food is poison, unless we’re talking nightshade brownies). I just felt like your if was pretty thin barrier to the fuck you. 🙂


    • October 16, 2012 9:28 am

      I don’t disagree with you. I, personally, believe that there are some foods that are healthier than others and that if you are willing and able to pursue health, then a reduction of the less healthy foods is part of that change. Of course, all of this depends upon your money and your time and personal preference. But these opinions I hold are valid for me alone, they are my world view, and I don’t expect anyone else to believe me or do the same. I share the information because of what I’ve learned, but I don’t impose my beliefs on others in any way. I’ll debate them and back them up and listen to the thoughts of others, but in the end, all that matters to me is what I decide to do with this information. There are a lot of theories out there and ultimately you’re on your own. So good luck with that.


  5. Kala permalink
    October 16, 2012 1:02 am

    I’m honestly a little skeptical that any of this rebranding has anything to do with an obesity panic.

    One of Wendy’s biggest worries is Five Guy’s burgers. That food is just as greasy, and the entire menu is either burger, fries, or hot dogs. The rebranding in general I think has more to do with upstart fast food companies like Five Guy’s, Chipotle, and to an extent Panera Bread. You’ll notice that Taco Bell just recently tried to copy Chipotle with their pretty crappy Cantina burrito at a lower price that’s effectively a poorly done rendition of the Chipotle chicken burrito.

    And the traditional fast food restaurants also have been suffering sore competition from Subway and Starbucks for several years now. Subway has more in sales than everything but McDonald’s. The whole McCafe line at McDonald’s is to try to steal more of the caffeine traffic from Starbucks and from Dunkin Donuts.

    America has in the past decade(s) or so, shifted where it spends its fast food money. I think a lot of that is simply because there are more options for a fast meal. It’s not that people still don’t want and like greasy McDonald’s type foods, but I’m sure in the past a lot of people were eating at McDonald’s or Wendy’s because it was fast and cheap and the only option. I’m personally of the opinion that the foods that McDonald’s and Wendy’s specialize in have been over-represented in the past for this reason.

    • October 16, 2012 9:19 am

      If anything, I’d say it’s a hybrid of Five Guy’s and Panera. If Wendy’s wanted to imitate Five Guy’s alone, they would strip down their menu. And yes, the Taco Bell Cantina menu was incredibly disappointing. But Chipotle sucks, especially when compared to Qdoba, a fair superior burrito joint. I LOVE Qdoba.

      In any case, I think the Wendy’s transition to uppity fare has to do with the health-centered focus that has risen in the past decade. That’s why Panera has grown in popularity, even though many of its sandwiches have higher calorie counts than McDonalds, and for damned good reason… they’re fucking amazing. Incidentally, Panera is not really Panera anyway… it’s St. Louis Bread Company, and anyone who says otherwise is missing out. I think they changed the name because St. Louis doesn’t have the best reputation, although when I worked briefly in their corporate office, I was told that it was due to some kind of law that prohibits locations in company names. That seemed kind of suspicious to me.

      In any case, BreadCo (as we call it) is awesome, that is all.

      But I think Bree’s point is correct… the reason for the health-centering is almost entirely because of the fat panic. Health has been a recurrent theme since the 1970s, but that’s exactly when fast food exploded. Only after the War on Fat began did restaurants feel pressured to offer healthier fare. Panera was already rising in the ’90s as a popular establishment, but it was in the Aughts (fuck it, I have no clue what else to call it) that BreadCo spread as Panera around the country. And I think it was helped along by the focus on obesity and the need for healthier fast food options.

      I also think that the rise of Panera and Chipotle and Five Guy’s was the proof that slightly upscale establishments could be profitable, as evidenced by Target’s transition into the high-end Walmart. Hell, I’m surprised Target doesn’t have Panera’s in them (though ours has a Starbucks).

      In any case, I think obesity does play a role in the surge of “healthy” fast food restaurants. Personally, I love Wendy’s and their Spicy Caeser Salad is awesome. And nothing beats a Frostie.


      • October 16, 2012 8:26 pm

        My husband LOVES Qdoba and doesn’t get why Chipotle is more popular. He’s always happy to have an ally. 🙂

        • October 16, 2012 10:25 pm

          Tell your husband he’s 1,000% correct. The meat has a better flavor, plus I love to get the tortilla strips on mine. And the corn salsa is amazing. Fuck Chipotle.


          • October 17, 2012 10:48 am

            I refuse to eat at Qdoba until they stop pronouncing the “Q” THAT’S NOT HOW IT’S SAID!!!

            (OK, also, I don’t like burritos) LOL

      • Theresa permalink
        October 18, 2012 10:07 am

        Re: BreadCo changing name to Panera: “I was told that it was due to some kind of law that prohibits locations in company names. That seemed kind of suspicious to me.”
        I think that the owners of the chain “Chicago Dogs” would agree. Heh.

  6. October 16, 2012 10:59 am

    Wow, FFF has turned into quite the safe haven for healthism and moralism. Such a shame.

    • October 16, 2012 11:11 am

      Joanna, it isn’t about healthism. It’s about having a forum to discuss a complex set of opinions and theories. FFFs has never been about promoting healthism or moralism, but about arguing about difficult subjects. It has been a part of this site since the very beginning:

      We’re also capable of reading opposing viewpoints, controversial opinions, troubling statistics, unsettling anecdotes and all manner of uncomfortable information without taking it as a personal attack on my sensibilities or a reflection of the author’s morality.

      By creating a space where you are in control of the information, we allow people to walk that path at their own pace. Perhaps today you aren’t interested in reading about the latest study that debunking the idea of benign obesity. But maybe tomorrow, or someday down the road, you’ll want to read the analysis from bloggers you trust. Maybe you’ll want to know whether it is possible to be metabolically stable, yet still be at a higher mortality risk. Maybe you’ll want to test the limits Fat Acceptance or Health at Every Size orthodoxy.

      This was never meant to a safe haven. Fierce Fatties was founded on the idea that if you don’t like an opinion you read, you can just skip it, rather than take it personally. And at the same time, you have to back up your claims. I can do that in terms of my opinions on why some foods are healthier than others. I’m not sharing this information because I think everyone must be healthy or they’re immoral bastards. It’s because I am personally interested in health and find the discussions fascinating. If discussing health is healthist or moralist, then I guess we are, but I thought we had established the importance of an open forum for discussion, so long as people aren’t being dickweeds.


      • October 16, 2012 12:58 pm

        This is why I still read this site. I understand why safe haven sites are what they are: they want a safe place away from hatred which is understandable and I wish them the very best. It’s often hard for me to comment on them though because the rules and comment policies are strict, and I have been kicked off several for violating them even when I meant no harm, but I’ve learned that just because I’ve meant no harm doesn’t mean I didn’t offend or trigger someone, and I realize that maybe it’s best I not comment on those blogs for the most part. But here, it’s nice to be able to discuss like adults, be heard, and learn from each other.

        • October 16, 2012 10:07 pm

          I respect safe havens, but this is not meant to be a safe haven. I felt kind of bad being verbally aggressive with you and CC because I didn’t want either of you think I was discouraging you from commenting. I just felt compelled to comment on the dynamic I thought I was seeing, and the points raised. I’m glad this is still a useful discussion salon.


  7. lifeonfats permalink
    October 16, 2012 4:50 pm

    I was totally expecting some to come here and decry fast food. It’s a given these days. But just because those don’t and won’t eat it doesn’t give them a free ride to pass judgment on those who do and act morally superior. We’re adults and I think we should be able to eat what we like without resorting to nannyism. It’s none of my business if someone wants to eat at Wendy’s/Taco Bell/KFC/McDonald’s, etc. every day or every week or how many times they want. I’m sure they know the health risks and they’re willing to overlook it. I know I do when I choose to eat out.

    • October 16, 2012 10:23 pm

      Your comment made me go back and reread Janet’s comment because I seriously did not see the judgment others are speaking of, but this time I saw it: “I don’t think anyone should eat fried, greasy food that is full of fat and preservatives.”

      Janet, I was defending your right to say that you think fast food is unhealthy, but people aren’t keen on others saying what they should and shouldn’t do, and I’m not either. People shouldn’t do a lot of shit, but what that shit is depends upon who you’re asking. Some folks say you shouldn’t drink, others say people don’t drink enough. Everybody follows their own moral compass and when others tell us which way to go, we have a tendency to say buzz off. Again, it’s a very human trait.

      So, to clarify: you can state your theory on whether fast food is healthy or not, but save your thoughts as to whether people should or should not engage in certain behaviors? Does this make sense?


  8. October 16, 2012 8:59 pm

    I just want to say that having diabetes has changed the way I view food, for obvious reasons. I have never said who should eat what foods. I know what I should eat to stay alive and I believe in nutrition first, no matter what form it comes in. I also know what foods make me feel good and what don’t. IF, for some reason you feel that me expressing my personal opinion on how I personally feel about my own relationship with food is oppressive or “holier than thou”, you are mistaken. Eat what you want, be happy with it. But I also have a right to say I don’t like something or that I think that certain foods are less nutritious than others. Once again, I am being made to feel I have to apologize for having an opinion. And for the record, I don’t find this to be a safe haven any more than anywhere else on the internet. The only safety is never verbalizing an opinion about anything, but then THAT’S JUST MY OPINION TOO! *sigh*…whatever.

    • October 16, 2012 10:30 pm

      In fairness, you did say “I don’t think anyone should eat fried, greasy food that is full of fat and preservatives.” in the first line of your comment. I missed it the first time too and was defending exactly what you’re saying here, that you are allowed to have an opinion on nutrition. But right off the bat, you did say what you think people should not eat (fried, greasy food). So, that is why people saw your comment as “holier than thou.” I understand where you’re coming from, but if there’s one thing that’s as important on Fierce Fatties as the right to defend an unpopular opinion is the right to bodily autonomy. You may state your opinion and others may challenge you to defend it, but whether you think someone should or should not do something is irrelevant. It’s the same as our Diet Talk rules, if you want to discuss the subject of dieting clinically, then throw out some trigger warnings and dissect the subject dispassionately. But we do not welcome the unsolicited advice of what we should or should not do with our bodies.

      I hope you understand the difference because if you can operate within those parameters, then you’ll find us much easier company.


      • October 17, 2012 10:05 am

        I can cooperate but I can also choose not to participate anymore. If I feel that I am being treated unfairly, then that’s how I feel. I do apologize if my opinion offended. But it is just that, my opinion. I truly think that anyone can make whatever choices they want, that’s what freedom is. And perhaps I was harsh in my wording. But i’m like many folks and struggle with my relationship to food and my body and I strive for good nutrition as opposed to my desire to eat things that might be bad for me. I don’t have any facts or figures. I only can tell you how eating certain foods makes me feel physically. And relate how others have told me they feel when they eat certain foods. If a food makes you feel sick or unwell, don’t eat it. It seems a simple choice. If someone doesn’t have that reaction to that particular food, then again, they should eat what they enjoy and makes them feel good. Again, I do truly apologize if I sounded self righteous. I’ll keep my opinions to myself in future. It is obvious to me that opposing opinions here have no place, unless you can quote research and not personal experience. That’s how I feel and perceive this place to work. Again, true apologies and I am thankful for the acceptance that I did find here. But I I no longer find that acceptance. Good luck and ciao!

  9. Leila Haddad permalink
    October 17, 2012 3:20 pm

    Having read all the back and forth in the commentary of this blog I feel I need to finally state my opinion as I am startled by the the continuous word “choice” and “I am adult who makes my own decisions” concerning whether or not you eat at a fast food restaurant. The problem is this: fast food is a mega billion dollar biz that steamrolls over every mom amd pop, greasy spoon, neighborhood luncheonette, you name it. And if you think you really have a “choice” anymore, try driving the 16 hr stretch from NJ to MI and pulling over at a highway rest stop and see what food you can purchase. Or try living in the projects or the sprawling mid western suburbs. What are you restaurants? Right you guessed it and thus the poverty/obesity equation. And what about my “choice” when I was in Jr and SR high school when the local diner where we ate lunch because the cafeteria used to give us a “choice” of pizza or hotdogs was chased out by the big chains? And while I’m at it,, how about the small farms that were obliterated by the Agri Business machine that needs to produce a billion tons of GMO corn for the feed of the billion head of cattle and chickens slaughtered for these fastfood chains, along with the mass distribution of corn by product for other food stuff items such as sodas and shakes. I am not a vegetarian by any means. I love me a good bacon cheeseburger and an old fashioned MILK shake. But defend McDonalds? Wendy’s? KFC? no fucking way. They have been eleminating “choice” from our pallets since day one

    • October 17, 2012 11:28 pm

      Excellent points, Leila. And that’s the way it has been historically as well, too. The poorer you are, the less control you have over your food supply, and the wealthier you are, the more control you have.


  10. vesta44 permalink
    October 18, 2012 10:37 am

    I’m late to this, but I read Janet’s comment and the first thought I had was “Don’t tell me what I should/should not eat. You have no idea why I happen to be eating that greasy cheeseburger from McDonald’s and it’s none of your business.” My second reaction was that that’s fine if that’s her opinion, as long as she doesn’t come up to me and tell me I shouldn’t be eating that greasy cheeseburger, because odds are, I’m eating it because I’m hungry, my blood sugar is low, and it’ll be a couple of hours before I can get home and cook something better to eat and there’s nothing better in sight to eat. In that scenario, if someone tells me I shouldn’t be eating a greasy cheeseburger, they aren’t going to be dealing with me, they’re going to be dealing with HelgaTheBitchGoddess and she’s not someone you meet anywhere, let alone on the highway or in a store/fast food restaurant.
    So when discussing health and related matters, how you word what you’re trying to say is of paramount importance. As atchka said, you can think certain foods are less healthy than others, but telling people they shouldn’t eat them – that’s not anyone’s place to do, not even the government’s (even though they’re beginning to think it is). We all make choices in our lives every day about our health, with the knowledge we have, and furthering that knowledge is good, but telling people what to do with that knowledge or how to apply that knowledge to their lives, not good.

  11. vesta44 permalink
    October 18, 2012 10:39 am

    Dammit, I meant to say “she’s not someone you ‘want’ to meet anywhere” (about Helga). We really need an edit button for comments like Facebook has.

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