Behind Wendy’s Natural Cut Fries

Natural Cut Fries With Sea Salt, the company’s product development team found a way to leave the potato skins on, make the fries crispier and give them a much tastier flavor. What they didn’t manage to do, however, is make the fries an actual all-natural product. That, says CMO Ken Calwell, would be too difficult given fast food customers’ demands for items that are cheap and can be hoisted through a car window.

The Not-So-Natural Part

The fries are sprayed with sodium acid pyrophosphate, a chemical that prevents them from turning brown from two baths in frying oil — one at the factory and the other at the store. They’re also dusted with dextrose, a sugar derived from corn, for similar purposes.

And just like every other large fast food chain, Wendy’s frying oil is dosed with dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone-based chemical that helps keep the vegetable oil from getting foamy after countless rounds of frying.

Wendy’s Natural Cut fries are also frozen like everybody else’s, even though it’s a big point of distinction for Wendy’s that their hamburgers aren’t.

Wendy’s has also highlighted that it uses “100% Russet potatoes,” but John Keeling of the National Potato Council says that this is not a selling point. “Virtually all processed French fries are Russets,” he said in an email.

Taste and Compare

But the new fries do succeed in taste tests, even beating those at McDonald’s, according to the company’s research. Wendy’s hired an outside firm to do a national taste test and the results showed that 56% of people taking the test chose Wendy’s skin-on fries, whereas only 39% preferred McDonald’s (4% had no preference). And Wendy’s 6,600 stores, orders that include fries are up almost 10%.

Nutritionally, the skins on the fries add 1 extra gram of fiber per serving for a total of 6 grams in a medium. Although the sodium content went up by 43% to 500 milligrams for a medium, an increase that no doubt helps with the taste factor.