The Biggest Flops In Wendy's History

Wendy's is known for walking the line between salty and sweet. Their company mandate, "Good Done Right," and their commitment to fresh, good ol' fashioned homestyle food is counterbalanced by their legendary Twitter account, where they roast their foes in epic fashion.

While it's not wise to tangle with Dave Thomas' creation online, you can safely savor Wendy's specialties at one of their hundreds of nationwide locations. Seeing Wendy's pigtailed, freckled, smiling mascot with familial ties is a sure sign that you're about to tuck into some good eats... maybe. While Wendy's has made extraordinary strides since it opened its doors in 1969, it's had its fair share of missteps too. From calorie bombs masquerading as moderately healthy fare to food poisoning and a disastrous flirtation with the alt-right, these are the biggest flops in Wendy's history.

Wendy's Superbar Experiment

It's undeniable; the '80s were a different time. A magically weird, Aqua Net-infused time when we all caught cholera on the Oregon Trail and ate at all of the buffets. Buffets were big business during the 1980s, with all of the coolest restaurant chains hopping on the bandwagon. There was just something opulent about them, a fitting tribute to Regan-era consumerism and a judgment-free zone to stuff your face and let loose.

Enter the Superbar. As this hilariously over-the-top commercial illustrates, Wendy's wanted to be not only the spot for the best burgers in the business, but the best place to snag some authentic fettuccine this side of Naples.

Wendy's Superbar ran for a glorious ten years between 1988 and 1999. You could get your fill of Mexican, Italian and traditional salad bar foods for less than $3.00 a serving. While the Superbar was a smash hit with customers, its low price made it a black hole that sucked in profits. Plus, frazzled employees couldn't keep it stocked quickly enough. Sayonara Superbar.

Wendy's Frescata Flop

Wendy's rolled out their Frescatas as a way to compete with Subway and other restaurants cashing in on the healthy fast food trend. Like the Superbar, Wendy's Frescata sandwiches were popular with the public but an epic nightmare to pull off behind the scenes. 

This lighter fare debuted in 2006, but lasted a mere two years before the fast food giant yanked them from the menu. Why? It was taking forever for frenzied employees to make them for hungry drive-thru customers. To add to the problem, putting together the finicky Frescatas "to order" meant that there was a ton of inconsistency.

In the end, Wendy's trashcanned its beloved Frescatas and went back to its greasy, unhealthy roots. After all, who goes to Wendy's to try to keep their diet? Once they dumped the poor Frescata, Wendy's continued making the fare that we know and love, like the Baconator.

Wendy's Alt-Right PR Nightmare

Wendy's Twitter is a thing of beauty. When Wendy's decides to weaponize their tweets, you know that someone or something is about to be burned, like when they decided to troll McDonald's for no good reason other than to have a little fun at their expense.

There are a few times when Wendy's notably missed the mark, either edging into too-cruel territory or simply coming off as tone-deaf. Unfortunately, they stepped in it hard in 2017 when they tried to fire off a cheeky response and inadvertently tweeted an alt-right hate symbol.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, Pepe the Frog is a modern-day hate symbol co-opted by the alt-right movement and used in anti-Semitic and racist attacks. What Wendy's no-doubt thought was a cute, smirking frog actually has a whole lot of dark and disturbing history behind it. The brand had to do some significant damage control to clean up its image, and we're pretty sure that its Twitter hasn't been the same since.

Wendy's 1985 Breakfast Bust

We've already established that things don't always come out smelling like fries when this fast food chain steps out of its lane. More than 20 years before the ill-fated Frescata hit the market, Wendy's tried its hand at breakfast with disastrous results.

Wendy's 1985 breakfast brainchild was borne out of its desire to compete with McDonald's and Burger King, both of which had robust breakfast menus. On its face, the idea was a solid one. Everyone loves steaming coffee, gooey pancakes, and cheese eggs for breakfast. But, in the end, Wendy's mid-'80s breakfast suffered the same problem as its Frescatas: trouble with execution.

Wendy's just couldn't get their meals out to sleepy and hangry customers quickly enough, so they canned breakfast. But, since you don't make it to the top of a fast food empire without a "try, try again" attitude, Wendy's re-launched their breakfast menu in 2019, even including a breakfast-style Baconator. That's the spirit!

Wendy's Failure In Japan

International expansion is the golden goose of all fast-food restaurants. It's a great way to diversify your revenue streams and get a whole new customer base. It's important to tread lightly and carefully, though, because in the words of Dorothy to her beloved dog Toto, you're not in Kansas anymore.

Wendy's failure in Japan came down to arrogance, plain and simple. While other fast-food greats like McDonald's were wowing Japanese audiences with menu items like Roasted Soy Sauce Double Thick Beef, Wendy's kept its original offerings. Did it think the charming appeal of its Frostys would transcend international lines without any additional effort?

Who knows. What did happen was what is known in Japanese as shippai, with Wendy's shuttering its 71 restaurants in 2019. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Wendy's re-engaged with the market through their new initiative Wendy's First Kitchen, which became an overnight massive TikTok success.

Wendy's Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty Controversy

Sometimes Wendy's flops have more to do with bowing to the winds of corporate change rather than rolling out items that just don't appeal to their customer base. Enter the Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty. The Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty lasted two short years, developing a cult following and producing a bizarre but catchy music video.

Despite all of the love from their customers, Wendy's decided to cancel the Frosty. Instead, the chain went back to its roots, offering up its traditional blend of chocolate and vanilla flavors. Still, Wendy's customers have not let this one go — and if we're being honest, probably will never drop it. In fact, there's a petition to bring the Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty back.

Although it's unlikely that we'll get to taste the layered, sweet flavors of the Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty again, it's not totally out of the realm of possibility. Companies do resurrect cherished customer favorites from time to time.

Wendy's Heart-Stopping Peppercorn Mushroom Melt Triple

If a menu item has "mushroom" right in the name, you would be forgiven for thinking that it might be moderately healthy. After all, mushrooms are an antioxidant-rich superfood. But, unfortunately, Wendy's mega-burger is a different story, eclipsing even the mighty Baconator in sheer calories.

Yes, the Peppercorn Mushroom Melt Triple — with its hearty beef patties, oozing cheese, and heaps of mushrooms — might have stolen customers' hearts, but it also could have stopped them. This giant burger clocks it at an astounding 1290 calories, or half the recommended daily calorie count for your average adult.

When you factor in the fact that most customers will get their Peppercorn Mushroom Melt Triple with a big side of fries and a cold beverage, you're talking about a meal that could crush your daily caloric calorie intake in one fell swoop. Plus, that's just the calories — the Peppercorn Mushroom Melt Triple is also jam-packed with fat and salt.

Wendy's Neverending Chili Controversies

To say that Wendy's Chili is a polarizing menu item is a bit of an understatement. While there are multiple recipes dedicated to duplicating this dubious "fan favorite," there are also plenty of people who decry Wendy's chili for its weird smell and borderline mystery meat.

No matter if you're a tried-and-true Wendy's chili fan or someone who thinks that this particular menu item deserves to go the way of the Superbar and Frescata, it's hard to deny the controversies. First, there are the rumors that Wendy's chili meat is actually reject hamburgers that are a bit past their prime.

If that doesn't put you off your steaming bowl of chili, how about the prospect of finding a body part? Although the infamous Wendy's chili severed finger scandal eventually came out to be an elaborate hoax, it still tainted the already unpopular menu item. With so many other yummy things to order, most people are giving Wendy's chili a pass.

Wendy's Singaporean Food Poisoning Spree

While Wendy's troubles in Japan could be chalked up to not fully understanding the market, their Singaporean woes are attributed to something entirely different. Wendy's expanded too quickly in the tiny island nation, causing food quality to drop drastically and people to get violently ill.

Back in 2015, Wendy's pulled out of Singapore as rapidly as it arrived, shuttering its 12 locations. While some people speculated that it might be Singapore's sky-high rents that prompted franchises to throw in the towel, there were other, less savory reasons lurking behind the sudden closure. Ultimately, it's probably a combination of both.

Apparently, the quality of the food dropped substantially, leading to unsatisfactory meals and multiple cases of food poisoning. Numerous people got seriously sick, and some were even hospitalized. It's safe to say that after those incidents, Wendy's simply left a bad taste in most Singaporean people's mouths.

Wendy's Deceptive Homestyle Avocado BLT Chicken Sandwich

As with Wendy's heart-stopping Peppercorn Mushroom Melt Triple, their Homestyle Avocado BLT Chicken Sandwich must be mentioned not because it's particularly bad, but because it's incredibly deceptive. Don't be fooled — this one is not your usual chicken sandwich. There's an entire day's worth of fat lurking between the buns.

Although Wendy's doesn't come right out and say that their Homestyle Avocado BLT Chicken Sandwich is good for you, customers who don't read the fine print might see the word "avocado" and think of a hearty, nutrient-rich meal that won't blast out their waistline. Wrong!

Wendy's Homestyle Avocado BLT Chicken Sandwich has a whopping 270 calories from fat, more than their Bacon Double Stack. Although Wendy's is under no obligation to disclose the sheer unhealthiness of its menu items, the Homestyle Avocado BLT Chicken Sandwich is a stealthy fat bomb that weight watchers will want to avoid at all costs.

Wendy's Flavored Frosty Experiments

Flavored Frostys, with the notable exception of Wendy's cult-icon Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty, have a bit of a colorful history with the company. For one thing, their traditional Chocolate Frosty is peak-level nostalgia for most of us. What was a trip to Wendy's without a huge order of the old fries and an ice-cold, smooth, Chocolate Frosty to dip them in?

When you mess with the greats, you're bound to get a little bit of hate. Wendy's Vanilla Frosty sparked controversy online. Unlike the Chocolate Frosty, customers decried the Vanilla Frosty as simply tasting sweet, without having a deep vanilla flavor. Although, they might be surprised to learn that traditional Chocolate Frostys are actually a blend of chocolate and vanilla flavoring.

It's likely that Wendy's will keep cranking out new Frosty flavors. After all, they rarely shy away from a challenge. So keep your eyes peeled for the next Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty and any promotions that Wendy's might run so you can get your paws on a cold Frosty for a fraction of the price.

Wendy's Inconsistent 99 Cent Menu

Although 99 cent menus might seem like a fantastic way to get customers in the door, they've actually fallen far out of fashion. Millennial customers appreciate quality over quantity, and sky-high inflation and rising food prices mean that these menus just aren't lucrative anymore.

Far before the industry-wide dollar menu woes, Wendy's was encountering its own problems with its bargain-basement lineup. Although Wendy's had a robust variety of offerings for under a dollar, they weren't enforced across the board. Getting different franchises to get with the program proved tricky or impossible, leading to tons of dissatisfied customers.

As with their Frescata, 1985 breakfast bust, and to a lesser degree, their problems in Singapore, Wendy's 99 cent menu suffered from inconsistency. Frustrated customers never really knew what was on the value menu. Since you don't want to gamble when you go out to eat, Wendy's never quite established their niche with the 99-cent menu crowd.