This Might Be Why Wendy's Is The Only Fast Food Chain With Baked Potatoes

Most fast food chains are known for a particular kind of potato — the French fried variety. Although Wendy's serves those up in mass quantities, the chain's baked potato is another popular menu staple that's rarely found elsewhere. And it's not likely that Wendy's will ditch the classic anytime soon, either — per Thrillist, they sell a million of the spuds per week, or 52 million per year!

The side item, which can actually double as a main course once toppings are incorporated, was added to the menu in 1983. This was done in an effort to provide healthier menu options than just hamburgers and fries. A salad bar was also incorporated at that time.

The baked potato in its plainest form (without cheese or butter or anything else) contains zero grams of fat or cholesterol, and comes in at only 270 calories, according to Calorie King. By comparison, a small order of Wendy's fries has the same number of calories, plus 13 grams of fat, according to Nutritionix. And really, who among us gets away with only eating a small size of fries?

More perks of Wendy's baked potatoes

The other great news is that there isn't a lot of fat or grease or other nasty stuff involved in the making of a Wendy's baked potato, making it that much more desirable for health-conscious diners. Lori Estrada, Wendy's VP of culinary innovation, told Thrillist, "We cook them from a raw state, in an oven, wrapped in foil, baked for an hour, just like you would at home."

Wendy's doesn't totally corner the fast food baked potato market, but it's one of the only ones that serves them, according to Fox News. Burger King and Carl's Jr. both used to sell the tuber in this form, but stopped when they didn't take off. Roy Rogers locations offer them, and some U.S.-based Arby's branches do, as well, according to the article — but not with the same popularity as Wendy's. According to Estrada, the chain was ahead of the curve in thinking of more health-conscious items and offering baked potatoes in the early '80s, firmly cementing the menu item in the minds of many regulars and making the chain so successful in selling them.

However, whether you head to Wendy's or another spot to nosh on a baked potato, it pays to be mindful of toppings if calories and fat are a true concern. A baked potato served up with bacon bits, cheese, sour cream, and so on is going to be a much more serious calorie fest than the plain version. Still, it beats the nutritional content of a hamburger and fries by a mile, so there's that.