Catering to Foodies, Wendy's Unveils 'Natural' Fries

Will it work?

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Hoping to grab a piece of the foodie market, Wendy's unveiled a new upscale french fry today. The "Natural-Cut Sea Salt Fries" are cut from russet potatoes and sprinkled with sea salt. "Wendy's has never had the best french fry," said Wendy's marketing chief to USA Today. "If it's not your strength, you can start with a clean sheet." So will the new spuds be a hit?

  • 'Sea Salt' Is the New 'Low-Carb!' reports Bruce Horovitz at USA Today:

The move comes as sea salt has set consumer hearts aflutter and invaded American pantries. In 2010, 1,350 new products with sea salt as an ingredient have been introduced, research giant Mintel says. The percentage of all foods and beverages with sea salt jumped from 5% in 2006 to more than 8% in 2010, Mintel says.

"Sea salt has the potential to grow as fast as low-carb did," says Lynn Dornblaser, new products guru at Mintel. "Hopefully, it won't decline as fast."

The sodium amounts ought to set off a few alarms for the millions of us who already go overboard on the salt. Wendy's confirmed to us that the new medium sized fry goes from 350 milligrams to 500 milligrams. Young, healthy people shouldn't be putting more than about 1 teaspoon of salt, or 2,300 milligrams of sodium, into their bodies each day, the CDC reminds us.

But let's be real. Nobody we know is walking into a fast-food joint looking for health food. And the differences between sea salt and America table salt (rock salt) are minor.
  • It's a Big Gimmick, says Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History, to NPR: "Basically this is all marketing. Sea sounds a lot better than rock [salt]. But if the product is pure, it is the same."
  • The Details "The fries are made 100% from Russet potatoes and cooked in proprietary oil that contains no allergens and has 0 grams trans fat per serving," reports the Triangle Business Journal. "Wendy's new natural-cut fries will cost as much as the chain’s current fries and in the same four serving sizes."
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