Wendy’s has been in a pretty odd place with regards to its menu, recently. While McDonalds presses on with its “premium” burger selection and Burger King tries to cater to a value market with 2 for $5 sandwich deals, Wendy’s has been taking the healthy tack. They’ve been emphasizing the freshness and healthiness of their menu by pushing strawberry salads and fresh chicken sandwiches.
In this context, Wendy’s latest limited time offer, Baconator Fries (released on June 25th, 2015), is a little surreal. Neither healthy nor constructed out of premium ingredients, and still being sold at a ridiculous mark-up, it’s… trend-bucking? But not necessarily in a good way.
After the jump, we’ll find out if the newest member of the Baconator family can live up to the lofty standards set by its kin, or if this family reunion will just be awkward.
The Baconator was nothing short of a revolution. Nothing but beef, bacon and cheese, this heart-smothering burger sparked a sensation among carnivores and other people looking to suffer significant gastrointestinal distress. Surfing on that sweet greasy wave of bacon mania, the Baconator was even spun off into a value-priced Son of Baconator for those whose arteries were bigger than their stomachs. It just might be in response to this massive lust of bacon that Wendy’s swapped out to a fresher, cleaner aesthetic and wiped their grease-laden hands clean. Out went the bacon (although the Baconator and his precocious son are still on the menu, don’t worry), in came the brioche buns and berries.
But just as bacon leaves a greasy film on your fingers no matter how hard you scrub, so bacon continues to remain on Wendy’s menu as the salty glue that keeps things together. The Baconator Fries don’t really sound like anything extraordinary in the greater scheme of things – just cheese fries with bacon, nothing fancy – but it’s the Baconator label that makes them so tantalizing. When you really think about it, the Baconator was never anything more than a bacon cheeseburger, but it captivated millions with its austere simplicity and dedication to the Bacon Cause.
The fries were standard Wendy’s fries, which in our opinion are the best among the Big 3 fast food restaurants. They were tender and soft without being too floppy, and held their weight very well.
The cheese was tangy and cheddary with a nice distribution across the fries. However, the quantity of the cheese and bacon was a little off-kilter. There were too many unadorned fries while other fries were absolutely slathered in cheese sauce. And speaking of cheese sauce – the cheese was indeed a style of nacho cheese sauce with cold, unmelted shreds of cheddar sprinkled on top.
The quantity of bacon was also very low, and the bacon was in large squares instead of pleasant crumbles. And though the bacon itself was appropriately crunchy, getting huge mouthfuls of it per forkful felt inappropriate, since it was just too salty with a chemical aftertaste.
Compounding an already long list of negative attributes is the fact that it was incredibly difficult to eat. Using your fingers is undesirable, since the cold and unmelted cheese doesn’t really stick to the fries and the bacon doesn’t really stick to the cheese, so a fork is practically required. But even then, the bacon slips and falls, the fries quickly get soggy under the weight of the cheese, and the whole thing becomes a humiliating mess.
Perhaps the worst attribute of these fries was the price. We saw they were advertised at a suggested retail price of two dollars per box and we intended to purchase two boxes of fries, one for each of us. When we got to our local Wendy’s they had upped the price to $2.50 – not enough for the four dollars we had brought to cover our plans. It was pretty upsetting to see our local Wendy’s jack up the prices so severely and having to settle to share a single box. This might’ve been a better snack for a single person, but to split it between two it was rather unsatisfying.
Throwing the salt in the wound on top of everything else, the container it comes in has ridges on the bottom. This means that once you’ve eaten all of it, the cheese (which, as mentioned previously, is desperate to fall off of the fries in a display of desperate protest) has permanently wedged itself to the bottom of the container (note that this photo was taken after some desperate scraping) – where it cannot be retrieved, leaving you to either risk the sheer social embarrassment of licking the container, or put the lid back on and accept the fact that you spent an inordinate amount of money for lost calories that aren’t even worth the effort of recovering.
2 out of 5 – Not Worth Trying
Overall, the Baconator Fries were… not bad? Not good, either, but not bad. If the price was a little better and the cheese wasn’t a sad mess, we’d buy this again. It’s certainly the cheapest option for good, fast cheese fries in our town. But the little flaws manage to overwhelm what would otherwise be a good, strong plate of cheesy fries and keeps it from climbing the ranks to join its Baconator kin. This sad little cousin of Baconator is best left on the counter.