December 24, 2010

Wendy's Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt

Ah, Christmastime. The season of eggnog, cinnamon peppermint bark and ... French fries?

Well, it might not be the most timely of reviews, but I recently tried out Wendy's revamped fries. You may have seen the commercials. "At Wendy's, we start with a whole russet potato. Naturally, we slice it. Then sprinkle it with sea salt and serve it hot and crispy."

I'm not quite sure how you slice a potato naturally -- they don't cleave themselves in the wild, after all -- but the real change here is the fact that the new fries still have their skin. This is a great sign, as it brings them closer to my all-time favorite skin-on fare fries.

Unfortunately, the skin isn't the feature that pops out when you bite into one of the new fries. Instead, the sea salt comes out in full force. It's definitely different from the salt on Wendy's old fries, and adds a distinctive oceanic flavor.

Nearly lost in the sea of salt is the aforementioned skin, which adds little of the distinctive texture you'd expect. A little extra chewiness lurks on the peripheral pieces that have skin running the whole way down the edge, but most slices have the composition of your standard fast-food fry. Bummer.

Before I reach a final conclusion on the new Wendy's fries, I'll compare them to the version they replace. Those now-defunct fries were my favorite in the world of fast food, so the evolved spuds face a stiff test.

The sea salt is a definite upgrade. Sodium was the previous iteration's weakest point, as it tasted harsh and bordered on overpowering. I still find the sea salt a little strong, but it blends much better with the flavors of the potato.

Moving on to texture, though, these fries fall surprisingly short. Wendy's old fries were melt-in-your mouth delicious but still maintained a satisfying crunch upon the initial bite. Rather than improve on this crunch-and-melt combination, the skin-on fries tended toward chewy. It's by no means unappetizing, mind you. It's just not as good as version 1.0.

Overall, I'd say Wendy's regressed slightly with these fries. I'm hoping I received a bum batch, that maybe my next order will be much better. And maybe that hope will keep me from sounding like too much of a scrooge when I announce my rating: three and a half sporks out of five.

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