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Wendy's debuts Signature Sides

New menu items include macaroni and cheese, baked sweet potatoes and chili cheese fries

Wendy’s is introducing three new Signature Sides — macaroni and cheese, baked sweet potatoes and chili cheese fries — at its more than 6,000 U.S. restaurants.

The products are available a la carte for a recommended price of $2.49 each. The macaroni and cheese and baked sweet potatoes will be available for a limited time, but the chili cheese fries are a permanent menu addition, the quick-service chain’s parent, The Wendy’s Co., said.

“Consumers want new foods with exciting flavors and satisfying tastes,” said Gerard Lewis, Wendy’s senior vice president of product innovation. “Our new side items have high-integrity ingredients like cavatappi spiral noodles, Cheddar cheese and freshly baked sweet potatoes with buttery cinnamon topping. No one in our industry offers this unique variety of high-quality products.”

Menu innovation has been a major force behind Wendy’s turnaround efforts over the past two years, and its upgrade to its French fries predated the launch of Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Cheeseburger and the “W” cheeseburger. The chain launched Natural Cut Fries with Sea Salt in November 2010, and reportedly spent 80 percent of its advertising budget in December 2010 on its upgraded fries. The Wendy's Co. disclosed at an investor meeting that sales of the fries rose 16 percent in the first two months of their rollout.

Wendy’s competitors also have paid attention to side dishes in their recent menu and marketing moves. McDonald’s, for instance, ran a “You Want Fries With That” promotion last December, giving away a $25,000 sweepstakes grand prize and gift cards to people who described how much they loved McDonald’s fries on a special microsite. And as part of its recent menu revamp, Burger King has begun selling Crispy Chicken Strips and several dipping sauces.

Dublin, Ohio-based The Wendy’s Co. operates or franchises more than 6,500 locations in the United States and 26 foreign markets.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN

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