By Wendy's own reckoning, its spuds were sort of duds. Ken Calwell, the chain's chief marketing officer before being named Papa Murphy's Pizza president, conceded that Wendy's never enjoyed McDonald's reputation for tasty french fries. So Wendy's went back to the kitchen and came out with a revamped fry, made from russet potatoes, with the skin on for added flavor and texture, cooked in trans-fat-free oil, and dusted with sea salt.
Wendy's says its new fries are so good that they beat McDonald's by a wide margin in a recent independent consumer taste test. To see for ourselves, we had two sensory experts taste fries from those two chains and from Burger King, Five Guys, Fuddruckers, and KFC in the New York tristate area.
Wendy's has the right to brag, and we scored its fries Very Good. Our experts gave Wendy's a slight edge over McDonald's because its fries were "a bit more potato-y." The others were close too, except Burger King; its fries tasted fatty, had less-intense potato flavor, and rated only Good.
Distinct potato flavor enhanced by browned and earthy taste of skins. Crispy outside, moist inside. Quality somewhat inconsistent.
Big baked-potato flavor complemented by oil and salt. Crispness and doneness were variable.
Moderate potato and browned flavors with crispy texture.
Flavorful seasoned wedges with extra-crispy coating and peppery kick. Very soft interior.
Spicy wedges with garlic, black pepper, salt, and paprika, sometimes distributed unevenly. Interiors slightly dry and mealy; edges lightly crisped. Some earthy skin flavor and bitterness.
Relatively low in flavor; coating detracts from quality. Fatty taste has about the same intensity as potato flavor.