Why Wendy's Serves Baked Potatoes (And Most Fast Food Chains Don't)

People are looking for ways to eat healthier at a time when life seems to be going at warp speed. Who has the time to cook every night? While fast food is often considered unhealthy, according to Mayo Clinic, there are ways to make healthier choices when eating at these restaurants. One option is choosing grilled or baked options instead of fried. For example, ordering a grilled chicken instead of a fried chicken sandwich. You can also avoid sugary drinks and choose water instead.

You should also refrain from adding extra cheese, sauce, condiments, or other high-fat toppings to your meal, select smaller portions, and look for salads or other vegetable-based options. While the primary menu at a fast food restaurant includes burgers, fries, and a soft drink, some places offer salads (just be mindful of the salad dressings) and wraps. Although Wendy's fries are delicious, you could pick up a baked potato instead. Why does Wendy's serve baked potatoes, and why haven't other fast food restaurants followed suit?

Offering healthy options for fast food

There are a few reasons why Wendy's serves baked potatoes while many other chains do not. First, baked potatoes are a relatively low-cost item to offer, and baking them requires minimal equipment and labor. Second, according to Mayo Clinic, baked potatoes are a healthier option than other items on fast food menus, such as fries or onion rings. Wendy's markets itself as a "fresher" option, offering more nutritious items than competitors, so offering a baked potato fits this brand image.

Low-calorie and healthier diets were all the rage in the 1980s and '90s, and that's when Wendy's baked potatoes made the menu. Baked potatoes can be an excellent vegetarian or vegan option, essential as more people choose plant-based diets. Wendy's was one of the first fast food chains to offer baked potatoes on its menu, and it has become a signature item for the company. By offering something unique and somewhat healthy, Wendy's sets itself apart from other fast food chains and gives customers a reason to choose it over other options.

You need the right equipment for baked potatoes

If it's so easy and healthy, why don't more fast food restaurants offer baked potatoes? Well, baked potatoes can take a while to cook, for one. At 350 F, it can take an hour to bake a potato. That's not necessarily fast food. Fast food restaurants don't usually have convection ovens, which is what Wendy's uses for its baked potatoes. These ovens cook food at a much faster rate, but if fast food chains began to add them to all of their locations, it could get very costly very quickly.

This doesn't mean that no other fast food joints have baked potatoes. In fact, Carl's Jr. used to sell baked potatoes, as did some Arby's locations. For now, though, Wendy's seems to have the market cornered on fast food baked potatoes, and it seems to be working for them. The company sells around 1 million baked potatoes every single week — that's a lot of potatoes! However, even with the popularity of baked potatoes, Wendy's most popular item is still its fries.