Hey, Wendy’s, Salt is Salt!

Today – drum roll, please – Wendy’s is launching their all new, crisper, slimmer, skin-on French fries with sea salt!

Fast food restaurants are not known for selling healthy food, though Wendy’s had a salad bar until the late 80s that delivered “sort of healthy” options.

Let’s take a close look at this marketing miracle and parse out the advantages for consumers looking for good food.

Slimmer – the fries, not the eaters. That makes them crisper – the fries, not the customers. That’s a good thing to fans of fried potato sticks, soggy is bad.

Apparently consumers are already confused enough about portion sizes and calories. Reminder: slimmer fries do not have fewer calories! It turns out that more surface area absorbs more fat during frying.

These slim, trim potato sticks have more calories than their chubby cousins: a medium order gains 10, going up to 420.

Skin-on – again, the fries, not the eaters. Wendy’s says that is to remind customers that French fries actually come from potatoes. The skin-on cut implies “natural and healthy” but it also eliminates the peeling step; that must save the company a bundle.

Apparently potatoes have 60 different kinds of phytochemicals and vitamins in the skins and flesh, including vitamin C, folic acid, quercetin and kukoamines. [Editor’s note: I’m not sure what those last two are, but they’re supposed to help keep down blood pressure.]

On the other hand, the skins of fruits and vegetables often collect pesticide residues; unless Wendy’s is going organic, “skin-on” may not be so good.

Sea salt – salt is salt! Sea salt seems to be all the rage, the latest nifty “natural” ingredient. Face it; salt is just sodium chloride, regardless of its source. The problem here is that while Wendy’s is “focusing on real ingredients” to win new customers, the company is also pumping up the amount of salt, going from 350 milligrams to 500 milligrams for a medium order, from 460 to 630 for a large.

So let’s see here: more calories, more fat, more salt…

Sorry, Wendy’s, you get a fail for healthier food on this one!