The Unexpected Ingredient In Your Chocolate Wendy's Frosty

Fast-food chains offer a variety of specialty drinks and desserts, but the rich, creamy frosty is exclusive to Wendy's. Something between a soft-serve treat and a decadent milkshake, its smoothness is famous in the great land of fast food. But there's probably a lot you don't know about this frozen dairy delight.

Let's start with the first secret: According to Wendy's, to ensure a perfectly thick consistency, frosty treats are only served at temperatures between 19 and 21 F. This makes the treat thick enough for a spoon, smooth enough to suck through a straw, and a nice, unexpected dipping sauce for fries. It's a well-rounded dessert, and at only 99 cents for a small, it's affordable, too. 

Another potential reason for the frosty's success is that it's slightly better-for-you than equivalents from other chains. Wendy's medium classic frosty is 470 calories and has 65 grams of sugar. (While that may seem like a lot, compare it to a McDonald's chocolate shake, which comes in at 650 calories and is packed with 85 grams of sugar.) But even with all of this information, there's still an important question left unanswered: What exactly is in the Wendy's frosty?

Vanilla is the key to the chocolate Frosty

The Wendy's chocolate frosty has a distinct, refreshing taste that's different from other fast-food desserts. The flavor is more mild compared to other decadent chocolate shakes and rich malts. And according to Wendy's, that's on purpose. Wendy's founder Dave Thomas designed the flavor as a mix of vanilla and chocolate. The chocolate frosty has been this way since the very beginning and was served way before the vanilla frosty came to be. With its light flavor and thick texture, it's a great balance for those savory menu items. 

So, who do we have to thank for the frozen dairy treat? According to the Wendy's blog, Fred Kappus is the brain behind the famous creation. Owner of a foodservice equipment business, Kappus got a phone call from Thomas during his search for a new menu item. Thomas thought that because Kappus sold ice cream machines, he might have a recipe in mind. Well, he certainly did, and it was for the cool, creamy frosty fans know and love today. 

The inspiration behind the chocolate frosty

According to the Wendy's website, fans have an unexpected source to thank for the chocolate frosty's unique flavor. Surprisingly, some credit is due to none other than a horse racetrack in Cleveland (per America's Best Racing).

While the iconic frosty treat from Wendy's has a distinct flavor, it takes inspiration from the special frosted malts sold at Thistledown. The Ohio racetrack sold malts with a unique taste, and they were distinguishable enough to catch the attention of those scouting soft-serve recipes for a new addition to the Wendy's menu. When CEO Dave Thomas tried the treat, he knew the flavors would pair exceptionally well with the rest of his established menu. So when the chain first opened in the late '60s, the Thistledown-inspired frosty was on its menu from the start. 

Other than the inclusion of vanilla, much of the Wendy's frosty recipe is kept under lock and key. However, there are still drool-worthy dupes you can try if you'd like to make a Wendy's Frosty at home. Just remember not to skip the vanilla.

Some Wendy's history and fast facts

Wendy's has a treasure trove of secrets — here are a few more things you probably didn't know about its beginnings. The Wendy's, founder Dave Thomas, had wanted to own a restaurant since he was a kid; eating out with his father was one of his fondest memories. Later in life, Thomas found a mentor in KFC founder Colonel Sanders. He rejuvenated four failing KFCs, but still wanted to build something of his own. He finally saw his chance when a friend mused that there were no places to buy a good lunch in Columbus, Ohio. It was here that Thomas opened the very first Wendy's restaurant in the fall of 1969. 

At the time, Wendy's was just one small homegrown stand with no grand schemes to go global. It had a small menu of only five items: never-frozen burgers, hearty bowls of chili, french fries, bubbly soft drinks, and the iconic chocolate frosty. Thomas had the menu down, but he had a hard time finding a logo for his restaurant. Eventually, he decided to model the chain's image after his daughter Melinda, nicknamed Wendy by her siblings, thinking she had a wholesome look that would reflect a welcoming ambiance. 

According to its website, it was also in those early days that the chain introduced the first successful drive-thru. Still, one of the best things to come from the restaurant in all its years in operation has to be the frosty.