As I mentioned in my Wendy’s Flatbread post, last month I got to tour Wendy’s Headquarters. I always love getting the behind-the-scenes look for things, so I was quite excited on being invited.
In addition to trying the Flatbread Chicken Sandwich, we also got to sample some other new upcoming limited edition menu items and we learned a little more about Wendy’s process to launch a campaign and their other practices.
Berry Almond Chicken Salad
This has been on the Wendy’s menu before, but they will once again be bringing it back as a limited edition menu item, between May and Labor Day
We sampled a half salad (280 calories). I liked the colorfulness with the fresh berries and the toasted almond slivers. It’s served with a raspberry acai dressing (apparently their #2 selling dressing even though it’s only available for 3 months out of the year).
Moonlight Meal Deal
Also in May, they will be launching a moonlight meal deal which I know Mr. K will love. It’s available after 10 PM and for $5 you receive chili cheese fries, a double stack burger and a large drink. We got to try the meal deal minus the drink during our visit and I know Mr. K and I will be visiting Wendy’s once it launches.
I also thought these ketchup packets were interesting.
Wendy’s Image Activation Center
Another new thing Wendy’s is doing is relaunching the image of the restaurants. We got to visit one; there currently exists 75 of them with plans to expand to 200 by 2015.
The new restaurants definitely are much more appealing. The one we went to even had a fireplace. But the coolest things for me were the free play soda machines and the display of bakery-style desserts of brownies, cookies and cinna-middles.
I’ve seen digital soda machines pop up at places like Five Guys, but not to the extent as the one we got to try here. On the surface, there are 24 different drink options (coke, water, sparkling water, tea, etc). This already seems like a lot. But when you press on each one, you get even more flavor options, giving you about a hundred possible different solo drink options. For example, select coke and you are then presented with 7 different coke flavors. Choose Dasani sensations and you get 8 different flavors. It’s the most I’ve ever seen offered. And of course you can play around and make different combinations too. We had so much fun playing with the soda machine that we ended up causing a little bit of a line for the other customers.
I can’t wait to see one of these restaurants built in California. It was hard to go back to theold restaurant format in San Diego after visiting the fun re-imaged one.
Other cool things I learned about Wendy’s process is that they hire super tasters. We got to see them in action. Their sole job is to come in a few days a week and discern the different flavors they are tasting. All the super tasters have a heightened sense of detecting different flavors and they are not Wendy employees. On the day we visited, the were going through batches of fries.
We also got a peek at how tasting rooms are set up when Wendy’s products are being taste tested by consumers. They try to keep things as neutral as possible in order to not effect results. So stark white rooms, odorless air being filtered in, etc. We sampled and previewed the flatbread chicken sandwiches in this setting, answering survey questions just like other taste testers as we ate.
Overall, it was a fun experience, and I have to confess all their enthusiasm and positive discussion of the company did have some effect on me as I’ve definitely visited Wendy’s more than usual since my visit. I felt even more positive about Wendy’s when I saw that the flatbread chicken sandwiches I got at my local Wendy’s looked and tasted just as good as the ones I had sampled at the headquarters. Mr. K has been getting the sandwiches a few times a week for lunch.
As a reminder, the chicken flatbread sandwich is currently still available. And so is Wendy’s $1000 a day contest. The contest runs through May 12, and each day one person wins $1000. You just need to buy the sandwich, snap a photo of it, and tweet it to Wendy’s with hashtag #twEATfor1K
Disclaimer: As indicated above, I was invited to visit Wendy’s headquarters and was compensated for my time and travel. My opinions on this post remain my own.