Wendy's has more than 6,500 locations across the globe, making it the third-largest burger
franchise in the world.
Founded in 1969, today the company is worth billions and has become beloved by people
all over the world who love their burgers and fries.
But there are a few little-known facts about the chain that may surprise you.
There are plenty of classic menu items to choose from at Wendy's, like the tried-and-true
But did you know this creamy favorite has been around since Wendy's was first founded
According to the official Wendy's website, founder Dave Thomas wanted a dessert so thick
you had to eat it with a spoon, and so the Frosty, conceived as a cross between a milkshake
and soft-serve ice cream, was born.
To keep the chocolate flavor from being too overwhelming, Thomas added vanilla to the
The result was a sweet, chocolate treat that perfectly complemented a hamburger.
While this chocolate/vanilla combo was the default Frosty flavor for decades, the vanilla
Frosty launched in 2006.
When Wendy's was launched in 1969, there were just five items on the menu.
Thomas didn't have great ambitions for the first restaurant he opened in Columbus, Ohio.
He simply wanted a small, local chain where his kids could work in the summer.
Despite his modest expectations, Thomas soon found himself with a successful business.
He opened a second Wendy's after a year and by 1974, sales totaled at nearly $25 million.
By the end of 1976, not even a decade since the company was started, there were 500 Wendy's
"Gee, this is pretty good."
Dave Thomas had four kids and knew one of them would become the face of the restaurant,
but he wasn't playing favorites when he picked 8-year-old Melinda, nicknamed Wendy.
She told People in 1990,
"Dad wanted a name that was easy to remember, and he wanted an all-American mug.
I was redheaded and had freckles and buck teeth, so I got elected."
Wendy admitted to often being embarrassed because of her famous face.
"There was always teasing.
It just goes with the territory."
Dropout to entrepreneur
The success of Wendy's is even more impressive when you look at the history of Dave Thomas.
A high school dropout, Thomas served in the Korean War before becoming a cook.
He went on to work at Kentucky Fried Chicken, where he came up with the idea for the KFC
After climbing through the ranks, Thomas left the company in 1969 and founded Wendy's.
The rest is history.
After Wendy's became a success, a 61-year-old Thomas went back to school to earn his GED.
He then founded the Dave Thomas Education Center to help other high school dropouts
earn their GEDs, as well.
Value menus have been standard at fast food restaurants for decades, but Wendy's was the
first, launching the first value menu in 1989, nearly a decade before Burger King got on
the value menu train in 1998.
Denny Lynch, the senior VP of communications for Wendy's, explained why the company decided
to offer menu items at a discounted price.
"At that time, all of the hamburger chains were going after each other and it escalated
to the point where we were seeing 99 cent Whoppers and Big Macs.
[...] We had the idea of rather than selling one of our big items at 99 cents, creating
a whole menu with 99-cent items.
We wanted our customers to be able to make a full meal with these lower-priced items."
Hip to be square
Wendy's is noted for the unusual shape of its hamburger patties.
There's a good reason the patties are square instead of round.
Thomas got the idea for the square patties from a Michigan restaurant called Kewpee Burger
which served square-shaped patties.
Thomas decided to incorporate these patties so customers could easily see the freshness
of the meat.
The corners of the square patties stick out past the circular bun, making it easy to see
just how juicy the burger really is.
Beef lady beef
Wendy's launched a series of memorable commercials in the 1984 featuring a catch phrase that
became world famous:
"Where's the beef?"
The commercials were so successful that Wendy's become synonymous with the phrase, and the
actress delivering it, Clara Peller.
But Peller was fired in 1985 for starring in a Prego spaghetti sauce commercial.
In the commercial, Peller announced that she had finally found the beef, angering Wendy's.
A spokesperson for the chain said,
"The commercial infers that Clara found the beef at somewhere other than Wendy's restaurants.
Unfortunately, Clara's appearance in the ads makes it extremely difficult for her to serve
as a credible spokesperson for our products."
While Wendy's is one of the most successful fast food companies in the world, it's stuck
to mainly serving lunch and dinner, unlike many of its competitors, who have breakfast
Wendy's has experimented with breakfast menus in the past, but never experienced enough
success to launch a permanent, nationwide breakfast menu.
CEO Emil Brolick told Bloomberg,
"We have tested breakfast many times over the years and we feel, as virtually the only
large national chain that hasn't gotten into breakfast, it's very difficult to enter that
space today and commit the kind of marketing resources that we feel would be necessary
to really entrench ourselves successfully."
While the restaurant does have a limited breakfast menu, it's only served in select locations.
So if you're chowing down on Wendy's at sunrise, consider yourself lucky.
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