Your Side DOES Matter

I appreciate having a choice when I go out to eat.

That’s especially true at a fast food joint. Sometimes, the fries are irresistible (McDonald’s, Nathan’s) and sometimes they’re forgettable (Burger King, Sonic).

Both BK and Wendy’s tried to re-invent themselves by offering new fries. Burger King should be dethroned. Wendy’s sea salt potato perk should swim with the fishes.

But, dear Wendy deserves pretty, new braid bows for her addition of so-called signature sides.

They were already letting us swap the salty sticks for a baked potato, chili or small salad. Not bad.

Now, we can choose from mac ‘n cheese, chili cheese fries, and a baked sweet potato.

The cheesy mac was calling my name, so I answered.

Presentation wasn’t spectacular. It was your typical cup with a scoop of goop.

According to Wendy’s, I was to get, “…a blend of real white & Vermont cheddar cheeses.” I think I did!

Their mac ‘n cheese is tasty. This doesn’t appear to be noodles drowning in a pump of yellow slime or elbows enveloped in reconstituted powder (According to the ingredients, there’s pasteurized process American cheese included, but the 1st ingredient is milk!). I could see shreds of cheese. There was a certain sharpness you’d expect from the cheddar. It was creamy, too. I wanted more!

My partner in cuisine crime got the sweet potato with “buttery cinnamon spread.” He gave it the thumbs up, with mediocre enthusiasm pointed at the spread. I got a taste of it, too. It was a spread, no doubt. You could tell this wasn’t butter mixed with cinnamon. According to the website, it’s made from sugar, butter, canola oil, water, molasses, orange juice concentrate, nonfat milk powder, spices, natural flavor, salt, vanilla extract and xantham gum.

We didn’t try the chili cheese fries. I’d imagine you’d have to dislike rainbows, puppy dogs and fresh air to not enjoy them. I’ve made it clear that I don’t love their fries, but I think their spicy, chunky chili cancels that out. Then they add cheese? Yes, please.

I’ve gotta give Wendy credit for this one. She’s proved that when you want it fast and good, your side does matter, and that’s a big deal.

Tip: Don’t be fooled by what sounds better for you. That cup of mac ‘n cheese cost me 740 calories and 1,890mg of sodium!. A large order of fries is only 530! The baked sweet potato’s spread alone is 120 calories. Do your research on the restaurant’s website before you go. There are also apps that’ll give you nutrition info.


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