“Where’s the pork?” could be Wendy’s new slogan. The 6,500-unit chain is menuing pork for the first time, featuring pulled pork in a fall LTO atop a burger, a sandwich—and its fries. “We wanted a new platform that would get consumers to try Wendy’s,” says Shelly Thobe, director of culinary and product innovation. “It’s something they can’t get at other [burger] QSRs.” Pork also wins points for value; its cost can offset high beef prices.
1. Here’s the meat
The pork is a shoulder cut, smoked and cooked by a supplier partner and delivered already pulled but not sauced. It’s reheated at each location and spooned out into 1.9-ounce portions for the fries.
2. Hold the sauce
Sourcing the pork dry makes for better texture, Thobe says. It also allows guests to customize with one of three barbecue sauces: sweet, spicy or smoky. Sweet already was in inventory, used on Wendy’s salads; spicy and smoky were developed for this LTO. “In the first weeks of the promotion, the spicy was ordered most often,” says Thobe.
3. A take on poutine?
The R&D team added a cheddar-cheese sauce, cross-utilized from Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. The sauce complements the crispy fries but doesn’t make them soggy, Thobe says. While several media outlets have compared the BBQ Pulled Pork French Fries to poutine, currently trending on independents’ menus, Thobe says the team was thinking more of nachos when putting together this combination of ingredients.
4. Snack strategy
The heartiness of the pulled pork fries helps position the item as a standalone snack or shareable add-on, not just a side. Millennials especially are ordering the fries as a snack, Thobe says, but people also are choosing it as a lunch item, alone or along with a salad or burger, she says.
5. Easy extensions
The pulled pork also is being offered in a sandwich and as a burger topping during the LTO. In test, Wendy’s tried menuing the meat on a salad and baked potato, but consumers nixed those applications.