April 7, 2014 Updated: April 7, 2014 at 7:50 am
While other burger chains give a half-hearted try with salads - usually when the latest statistics about obesity in America hit the wires - it looks like Wendy's actually cares.
Wendy's salads look and taste like something more than compost. Here's the BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad blueprint: grilled, white-meat chicken chunks glazed with sweet honey barbecue sauce, fire-roasted corn, applewood-smoked bacon, diced tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese on a bed of 11 different kinds of lettuce and field greens. The salad is served with Marzetti Simply Dressed BBQ Ranch Dressing.
Wendy's is pulling away from the fast-food salad pack by creating imaginative flavors and combinations of quality ingredients. Wendy's bacon bits are thick and lean, and give this salad a nice, salty kick. The cheddar is mellow. The fire-roasted corn is a kick you won't find at the competition.
Wendy's doesn't simply glop on ranch dressing and shove it across the counter; they use Marzetti ranch dressing. You know how we enjoy the comfort of familiar supermarket brand names in the drive-thru. There's a trust that soothes the $6.19 sticker shock. Add a soft drink and tax, and you're pushing $9 for lunch - not cheap. Quality costs.
Laying the ranch on thick guarantees the success of the BBQ Chicken Ranch Salad. Ranch is hot; people would eat a catcher's mitt if it were slathered in ranch dressing.
You can bet the ranch that this salad is well beyond the dieter's safe house. At 580 calories and 29 fat grams, you're inflicting more damage than a Spicy Chicken Sandwich, the best thing on Wendy's menu. This salad is a powerhouse, packing 41 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Wendy's also is unleashing an Asian Cashew Chicken Salad, with grilled chicken chunks, roasted edamame, cucumbers, red bell peppers, spicy roasted cashews and spicy Asian vinaigrette covering the 11 different greens. This is targeted to women, and it hits a bull's-eye.
Wendy's is so confident that these two salads will find an audience, they've put both on the permanent menu, where they join the Apple Pecan Salad and Spicy Chicken Caesar.