Bring Back the Big Fry!

My favorite fast food french fry has always been Wendy’s – even when my friends preferred McDonald’s. The wider cut allows you more potato taste. Other folks like McDonald’s fries because the thinner cut gives them more crispy french fry taste. But, I don’t want my fries to taste like a potato chip! When I go to a restaurant and they put potato chips on the plate instead of french fries, I feel cheated. Potato chips are a snack, not a food! Remember the add campaign for Skippy Peanut Butter? “Skippy’s tastes more like fresh roasted peanuts!” Well to me, Wendy’s fries taste more like fresh Baked Potatoes!

I hear that one theory as to why they changed their fries was to make them thinner, just like McDonald’s. If that is true, it’s a big mistake. One reason I go to Wendy’s is for the fries. If I wanted McDonald’s style fries, I would go to McDonald’s! Being different isn’t bad; it’s a good thing. Can you imagine Wendy’s changing their famous Frosty to be more like a plain old, fast food milkshake? Why not make their square burgers, round like McDonald’s as well?

Anyone remember New Coke? Taste tests convinced some Coca-Cola executives that their soft drink needed to taste more like Pepsi. The rest is history – bad history! The Coke executives ignored the history of their success. The history of a soda flavor that carried them from one drug store in Atlanta to worldwide beverage domination. Why would Wendy’s want to forget the french fry that took them from one store in Columbus, Ohio to over 6,000 stores?

If they wanted sea salt, just add it. No one would really notice and they could still inform the occasionally inquiring consumer that they considered it healthier. They could also have let the potato skin stay on the fry with out too much fanfare; but, why did they have to make the fry thinner? For me the thick size was part of its image, as well as part of its flavor. I loved those large golden nuggets of fresh potato taste!

I remember in the Sixties, when Krystal fries were “shoe string” thin, and came in the same cardboard box as their hamburgers. What a great marketing concept! And, you had to go to Krystal’s to get them. No one else that I know of had them. Now they come in a bag just like McDonald’s regular order size and the french fries also look the same as McDonald’s, now. Today, anyone can get practically the same thing at most all fast food restaurants. I know competitive pressures have executives searching for changes, but some things need to stay the same. You don’t see McDonald’s changing their Big Mac or Krispy-Kreme changing their doughnuts. Image KFC changing their original chicken recipe.

Finally, look at America’s major breweries. In the Seventies and Eighties they decided to improve profitability by reducing the quantities of the ingredients in their offerings. First came light beer, so far so good. Then came dry beer. Then light dry beer. The next thing you know, they ended up spawning over a thousand American micro-breweries and convincing consumers to patronize countless imports. Americans used to like their beer. But, after the major breweries took out most of the flavor – forget it. I remember when a regional beer, Rolling Rock tasted comparatively like spring water. Today, next to Bud Light Dry, it tastes like a full-bodied brew. Why? Because, for the last thirty years, they left it alone! Now, its a big national seller. Last week I saw that Schlitz is marketing their “Classic 1960s Formula.” I bought a six pack. Not bad! According to Beeradvocate website, the General Manager attributed “the steady decline in sales of Schlitz to a changed formula in the mid 1970’s.” Today, they are “excited to re-launch the original formula.”

So, hopefully Wendy’s will take a lesson from Coca-Cola, Krystal’s, Schlitz, and me, and bring back the bigger fry!

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