Wendy’s is a burger, fries and shakes veteran. But there is another item here that people love more than anything else – chili! Though tasty and flavorful, Wendy’s chili hides some pretty interesting secrets that you would be very surprised to know. Here are the top untold truths of Wendy’s Chili.
10. It is a perfect low-calorie meal
Fast-food chains like Wendy’s are known for their affordable, tasty and quick meals. From burgers through shakes to yummy sides, they serve just about everything you crave. But Wendy’s stands out from the crowd by offering classics such as baked potato, chili cheese fries and chili. In fact, chili is said to be one of the most popular items on the menu of this fast-food chain. And why not? Everyone loves chili; it’s hearty, it’s comforting, it’s packed with flavor and just what you want on a cold rainy or snowy day. Made from beans, beef, and a whole bunch of veggies and spices, chili is the ultimate comfort food for most Americans, and practically every family has their own recipe for this ubiquitous dish. It was a very popular dish in the olden days simply because it was hearty and could easily feed the whole family. In the modern day, when we are all on some sort of diet or the other, chili would make for a perfect wholesome meal. And for those watching their weight, Wendy’s chili is even more perfect because it is a low-calorie meal. According to most doctors, the average human being needs about 2000-2500 calories per day. And as per Wendy’s website, there are only 160 calories per small serving and 250 per large serving of Wendy’s chili. So, a cup of this chili will not have any drastic effect on your diet plan. In fact, it could help you meet your daily dietary requirements. It has protein from the beans and meat, carbs and minerals from the veggies, and making it all flavorful are the array of spices added to it. Very satisfying without all the extra calories! Ordering chili instead of other items at Wendy’s might be a good idea too, for most other fast-food items are greasy and loaded with carbs or trans fats. It might be even better than ordering a salad that is often drenched in a rich dressing.
9. Follow your nose!
Food is memories, and memories are sights, sounds, taste, feelings and smells. Smell is one of the most important aspects of most food-related memories. Fun fact: did you know that it is not just your tongue that determines the taste of a particular food? It is a combination of the smell that we inhale through our nose combined with the texture and temperature of the food perceived by our tongue that creates flavor. Thus, if you had a stuffy nose, you wouldn’t be able to smell properly and thus, food would taste different too. Just like other foods, chili is also a very smell-heavy food. It has a lovely aroma that takes some people back to their childhood reminding them of their mom or grandmother’s kitchens. Some people associate it with a feeling of comfort, of being served a bowl of chili when they were sick and in bed. Others associate it with frosty mornings or rainy nights. To appreciate the layers of flavor in the chili that are developed due to the slow cooking process, and the aromas given off by the spices, we need that essential sense of smell. All of us perceive smells in a different manner; what is a good or pleasant smell for one person may be an unpleasant or bad smell for another. Some smells evoke pleasant memories and some revolt us. For most of us, the smell of chili is a heartwarming and comforting one. Irrespective of whether you had chili as a child or developed a liking for it as an adult, there is hardly a person in America that doesn’t like chili. It is the one item that we reach for when we’ve had a bad day. And luckily for most of us, we don’t have to slave for hours on the stove to create the perfect pot of chili. Just walk over to your local Wendy’s and they’ll serve a steaming cup of their signature chili to you in no time. Just a single sniff and you’ll be in chili heaven! And if it smells so good, you can bet that it’s going to taste awesome too.
8. It starts off as something completely different
One of the biggest controversies or rumors flooding the Internet about Wendy’s chili is that they don’t use real beef. It is widely reported that Wendy’s does not use freshly-ground beef to make their chili. They supposedly use leftover beef that has been grilled on the barbecue. But that is not necessarily bad since the smoky bits of beef may actually add another layer of flavor to the chili. It is essentially unused burger patties that make their way into the chili. When the cook at the grilling station starts cooking the burgers, he is not sure if all the burgers will be ordered. When not ordered, the patties are put in the fridge for the next batch of chili rather than thrown away or served to customers later. Another thing to consider is the fact that once the burger patties are grilled, they have only about half an hour more to be served to customers. Once that time is up, Wendy’s staff places them in the fridge, from where the beef is ground up and used in making their famous chili soon after. Another reason why Wendy’s reportedly uses burger meat in their chili is because of their commitment to reducing food wastage. Over the past few years, they have made a dedicated effort to reduce food waste at their outlets as much as possible. And their dedication to this noble action is commendable.
7. It is made from fresh, not frozen, ingredients
Fresh ingredients and fresh products are very important to Wendy’s. They emphasize this aspect in every element of their organization. And as per their website, in all the 48 contiguous states of the U.S., they use beef that has never been frozen. All their fruits and vegetables are also sourced from farms that pay close attention to quality. Essentially, they believe in using the same kind of ingredients that you would in your own kitchen. They also try to avoid the use of preservatives, artificial ingredients or flavorings in the items served at Wendy’s. In terms of meat, they source fresh beef from North American ranches and farms who raise cattle for high-quality beef. It is never frozen and always fresh, even for their famous chili. Plus, there is a certain logic behind shying away from frozen beef. More than half of ground beef is made up of water, so when it is frozen, the water freezes too and creates ice crystals, breaking down the protein. Consequently, there is the ugly residual water that seeps out when the meat thaws. Freezing meat can also result in dryness or freezer burn. Thus, frozen meat is not the best option if you want tasty burgers or chili.
6. Beans, beans and more beans!
Like every chili recipe worth its salt, Wendy’s chili recipe uses different types of beans too. Only a rookie would think that just using one type of bean would give them that awesome homemade chili taste! In case you didn’t know, there an amazing array of beans that can be used in soups and stews. For your chili recipe, you can pick from red kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, pink beans, etc. But for that awesome Wendy’s chili taste, you just need two beans – pink beans and red kidney beans. Pink beans have a meaty flavor and a slightly sweet taste that lends itself very well to stews and chili. In many recipes, these are interchangeably used with pinto beans. As for red kidney beans, they are present in almost every kind of chili recipe out there. They are easily available in most supermarkets and are relatively inexpensive too. Plus, they add a nice heartiness and wholesomeness to the chili. Packed with protein and fibre, red kidney beans are the building blocks of any good chili recipe. But both types of beans need to be cooked thoroughly or else they could be harmful to health. If you’re wondering why Wendy’s uses more than one kind of bean, here’s the reason: each type of bean has a different texture and adds a distinct taste to the chili. A combination of both red kidney and pink beans is necessary to create that essential depth of flavor that we all love and crave.
5. Here’s how you can make it at home
If you find yourself craving a Wendy’s chili but are too lazy to go out, just raid your pantry and try one of the many copycat recipes flooding the Internet. Here’s one that is super easy to make at home, and tastes just like Wendy’s: For the ingredients, you’ll need 2 pounds of ground beef, a can of kidney beans and a can of pink beans (if available), a can of tomato sauce, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 2 chopped onions, one chopped green pepper, a cup of water, a teaspoon each of salt, garlic powder, chili powder and dried oregano, half a teaspoon of pepper, 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce and a tbsp of oil. Start by browning the beef in a soup kettle or a Dutch oven. Add the veggies and sauté them until tender. Then, add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, water and all the flavorings (Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and spices). Simmer this mixture for an hour or so. For that authentic Wendy’s chill taste, adjust the flavorings, especially the onion and garlic powder. Next, add the rinsed and drained kidney beans and let the chili simmer for 15 minutes. Voila! Your chili is ready. Have some now and save the rest for later.
4. The finger incident
In the mid-2000s, Wendy’s suffered a terrible blow when a woman discovered a finger in her cup of Wendy’s chili at a San Jose outlet. The police investigated and confirmed that it was indeed a finger, but its owner was not known. In order to boost its image and declining sales following the incident, Wendy’s offered a $100,000 reward to anybody who could provide some information about the origin of the finger. But police soon discovered that the woman had a history of filing false lawsuits for claim money, including one against another fast-food chain. She was eventually arrested and sentenced to prison. The finger was later found to have belonged to an associate of the woman’s husband who had lost it in a workplace accident. By the time the public had realized that it was a hoax, Wendy’s had suffered significant losses, especially in the San Jose-San Francisco area. But the fact is that claims of finding human body parts in food at fast-food chains are not new. Most often, it is a hoax. Plus, with strict food and health safety standards in place, such incidents are nearly impossible.
3. It has more beans and veggies than meat
Even though the chili at Wendy’s may not be the best-looking cup of chili in the world, it does pack a punch with its awesome flavor. Flavored with spices and supplemented by a medley of veggies (celery, onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc.), this beef and beans dish is most definitely a hearty chili. But many have complained that Wendy’s chili does not have much beef. They say that it has more beans and veggies than meat. Make no mistake, Wendy’s chili is all beef, beans and veggies – the golden trifecta of any good chili recipe. But many have reported that is a tad bit more soupy than beefy. It is slightly thinner than the chili served at other places. Some have even said that the chili has a lot of tomatoes and sparse helpings of beef. Well, everyone likes their chili in a certain way, and they may be right too. But there is no denying the amazing taste. A mere whiff of Wendy’s steaming hot chili and all concerns of beef-to-beans-and-veggies ratio will be forgotten!
2. It is very affordable, considering the portion size
Let’s all agree that Wendy’s chili is both filling as well as tasty. But another thing to consider while ordering chili at Wendy’s is that it is quite affordable. The price has, over the years, remained in and around the $2 area for the small portion. And even if you order the small cup of chili, most customers agree that the portion size is quite generous. The chili tastes pretty good, fills you up and leaves you feeling warm and cosy. Another thing working in the favor of the chili is that Wendy’s also offers some great toppings and supplements with the chili. For example, for just a few cents more, you can get a couple of saltines to dunk into the chili or add shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream. Hot sauce and sweet onion are complementary in most outlets.
1. The horse meat rumors
Another controversy that Wendy’s was once embroiled in was that it was using horse meat in its products, including their chili. It was, of course, all false. But here’s how it all started. In the early part of this decade, a horse meat scandal rocked the meat industry in Europe, which essentially stated that manufacturers were trying to pass off horse meat as beef in order to bring down their costs. Investigations confirmed that items made from so-called ‘100% beef’ indeed contained horse meat. And this scandal reached American shores too, when horse meat was reportedly found in some products of Burger King, the American fast-food chain’s UK restaurants, forcing them to change their meat suppliers. Wendy’s came into the picture too, when sometime later, an entertainment website, published an article that accused Wendy’s of using not just horse but rat meat too, in their chili. Though it was obviously an entertainment and satirical piece, many customers took it seriously and Wendy’s reportedly had to issue a statement which effectively stated that they only used 100% North American beef in all their restaurants; no horse meat whatsoever. Plus, a simple search of the chili ingredients on their website and it would be clear to all that there is no other meat involved other than beef.