Wendy’s Introduces 'Natural' Fries

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Some Wendy’s (Stock Quote: WEN) customers in Florida, North Carolina and Louisiana are getting a special surprise with their square-cut cheeseburgers - “natural” french fries.

The new fry recipe uses sea salt, skin-on potatoes and a special oil of as-yet-unknown provenance. While the fries have yet to hit the rest of the country, early reviews are good, with one local food blog comparing them to those found “at the county fair.”

So why the new recipe? One hint may be found in the most recent Zagat fast food survey, which ranked the chain’s fries fourth behind McDonald’s (Stock Quote: MCD), In-N-Out and Five Guys (but ahead of Burger King, which over a decade ago mounted an unsuccessful campaign to unseat McDonald’s fries from the top of the fry heap). Much as Domino's (Stock Quote: DPZ) has made a well-publicized overhaul of its pizza recipe in response to negative focus group feedback, perhaps Wendy’s will be tossing out the old recipe in the hope of cracking the top three next year.

More likely, though, this is the latest in a series of changes meant to establish Wendy’s as a more high-end burger joint. Last month they made headlines by introducing meals for “foodies,” including apple pecan chicken salads. And earlier this month they made the decision to ditch the cheap bacon they’d featured in such sandwiches as the Baconator in favor of more high-end stuff.

Time will tell if this new breed of fries will get out of the testing round and continue the trend.

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