Mike Mozart via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Mike Mozart via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

15 Biggie-Size Facts You Might Not Know About Wendy's

Mike Mozart via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Mike Mozart via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Even if you're an avid fan of the Frosty or can't get enough of the Baconator (and new Baconator fries), there are probably a few things you don't know about the No. 2 burger joint in the U.S.

1. Wendy’s is named after Dave Thomas’ daughter, Melinda.

As a child, she had the same issue pronouncing Rs and Ls that many kids do, and she referred to herself as “Wendy” or “Wenda.” Her likeness was also used for the famous pigtailed logo. 

2. Dave Thomas never knew his biological family.

Thomas was adopted when he was just six weeks old and never met his birth parents. Though he sought his mother out when he was 21, he found that she had already passed away. He did meet her family, but said he didn’t feel close to them. Thomas had no urge to meet his biological father at all, but his daughter was able to find out more about her grandfather in the 1980s. He had passed away by this time, and his son, a college professor and MIT graduate, wanted nothing to do with his famous half-brother.

3. Despite his negative experience, he created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Thomas didn’t have a great experience with adoption. His adoptive mother died when he was just five, and his adoptive father, Rex, remarried three times after that. Rex moved around the country often in search of jobs, so Dave lived in 12 different cities by the time he was 15. On top of that, he didn’t have a particularly close relationship with his dad, summing up Rex's parenting style as, "He fed me, and if I got out of line he'd whip me."

Perhaps hoping that he could help other children find better matches, he founded the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992. He also hoped that he could make it easier for adopted children to talk about their experiences. "You'd be surprised the people who were adopted who don't want to talk about it,” he once said. “It's hard for people who have a mother and father to understand. Adoption was like the plague."

4. Dave Thomas dropped out of high school.

As a teen, Thomas decided his time would be better spent working full-time rather than attending high school. But when he got older and his story became more well known, he worried that his business success would tell kids that they didn’t need high school to succeed in life. To set a good example, Thomas went back to high school and got his G.E.D. at the age of 61. His graduating class voted him “Most Likely to Succeed.”

5. Dave Thomas once worked for Harland Sanders.

As an up-and-comer in the fast food business, Thomas worked for Colonel Sanders at some Kentucky Fried Chicken locations in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the early '60s, he moved to Columbus, Ohio, to help bolster the sales of some floundering stores there. You might be familiar with the tactics he used to help the stores get back in the black: Putting chicken in buckets and promoting it with a giant, rotating, red and white bucket on the sign.

Thomas made $1.5 million by turning the stores around, and used the money to open his own chain.

6. The first Wendy’s opened in Columbus, Ohio, on November 15, 1969.

It closed in 2007 due to declining sales, likely because of poor parking and its lack of a drive-through. Though locals were upset, Dave Thomas' son insisted that his father would have favored practicality over nostalgia. "No one knows my father as well as I do—he was my best friend," Ken Thomas said. "I can tell you right now that he knew, that sooner or later we're going to have to do something with No. 1 store."

7. Wendy’s signature Frosty has been on the menu since day one.

Wendy’s famous Frosty was one of the original five products on the menu in 1969. It cost just 35 cents. The others were hamburgers, chili, French fries and beverages. Frostys must be served at a temperature of between 19 and 21 degrees, by the way, to maintain the perfect thickness and texture.

8. They serve up about 300 million Frostys annually.


Thomas was obviously on to something when he came up with the Frosty. Wendy’s serves about 300 million of them annually, with the 12-ounce, 99-cent size being the most popular.

9. The chocolate Frosty isn’t all chocolate.

Get ready for some earth-shattering news about your favorite chocolate dairy dessert: It’s actually a blend of vanilla and chocolate. Dave Thomas wanted a thick milkshake that didn’t overwhelm the taste of a hamburger and felt that a pure chocolate dessert was too much. He cut the flavor with vanilla and declared it perfect—so that frozen treat you get at Wendy’s is actually more like a twist cone all mixed together. The all-vanilla Frosty wasn’t introduced until 2006.

10. Square hamburgers aren’t original to Wendy's.

It's less about eating and more about conquering.

A photo posted by Wendy's (@wendys) on

Thomas got his inspiration from Kewpee’s, a hamburger joint in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. White Castle was also serving up angular burgers decades before Wendy’s made it one of their trademarks.

11. It was the first fast food chain to add a salad bar.

Wendy’s Superbar featured a large selection of salad fixings, plus “Mexican Fiesta” and “Pasta Pasta” sections. Upkeep proved to be too labor-intensive, and the salad bar was eventually phased out of stores.

12. The actress known for the “Where’s the Beef” campaign was fired.

Clara Peller, famous for gruffly wondering why her hamburger didn’t feature much hamburger, was dropped from the campaign after spoofing it in a Prego commercial. While shilling for the spaghetti sauce, Peller declared that she had finally found the beef, which Wendy's felt undercut the point of their ads.

13. Dave Thomas starred in more than 800 Wendy’s commercials.

At first, they were terrible—people thought Thomas was too stiff. Scriptwriters figured out a way to play into the founder’s personality, though, and he was soon beloved by consumers. By the time the 13-year campaign ended, Thomas had starred in more than 800 commercials.

14. There's a Foie Gras Burger on the menu in Japan.

Like most other fast food chains, Wendy's offers different items on its international menus. Wendy's Japan featured a Caviar and Lobster Burger and a Lobster Surf and Turf Burger as part of a limited time menu. Order off of the premium menu for a burger topped with foie gras and truffle sauce.

15. There might be a subliminal message in its logo.


When Wendy’s refreshed its logo a couple of years ago, consumers immediately noticed a little something extra in the cartoon spokesmodel’s collar: the word “Mom.” Was Wendy’s intentionally trying to make us associate its fast food offerings with the wholesome goodness of mom’s cooking? Not on purpose, said Denny Lynch, the company’s senior vice president of communications. "We are aware of this and find it interesting that it appears our Wendy cameo has 'mom' on her ruffled collar. We can assure you it was unintentional." But once you see it, you can't unsee it.

The Top 10 Pizza Chains in America

Pizza is a $45.1 billion industry in the United States. Here are the top pizza chains across this great nation, based on gross sales in 2016.


Pizza Hut is truly enormous. Raking in more than $5.75 billion in 2016, the chain is best known for its red roof architecture. The style is so distinctive that the blog Used to Be a Pizza Hut collects photos of former Pizza Hut restaurants now turned into other businesses.


With more than $5.47 billion in revenue, Domino's is nipping at Pizza Hut's heels. For decades, Domino's offered a guarantee that your pizza would arrive in 30 minutes or less, or it would be free. The policy was terminated in 1993 in the U.S., and Domino's has since focused on expanding its menu with pasta, sandwiches, and other goodies.


Photo of the exterior of a Little Caesars restaurant

Founded in 1959 by Mike and Marian Ilitch, Little Caesars focuses on carry-out pizza at ultra-competitive prices. Using slogans like "Pizza! Pizza!," "Pan! Pan!," and "Deep Deep Dish," the chain offers hot cheese pizzas for just $5.


Headquartered in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, Papa John's was the first national pizza chain to offer online ordering in the U.S., way back in 2002.


Papa Murphy's offers exclusively "take and bake" pizza, where the ingredients are put together in front of you, then you bake the pizza at home. It's the only large chain to offer this kind of pizza, and it's a smart business model—stores don't need pizza ovens!


California Pizza Kitchen

The first California Pizza Kitchen launched in 1985 in Beverly Hills, California. The focus is on gourmet pizza, including a line of relatively fancy frozen pizzas. In many locations, CPK also offers gluten-free crust as an option, making it a favorite for gluten-intolerant pizza lovers.


Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco founded Marco's Pizza in 1978. The Toledo, Ohio-based chain is now the country's fastest-growing pizza chain, with more than 800 franchised locations across the U.S. as well as in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and India. They specialize in what they've dubbed "Ah!thentic Italian."


In 1958, Bill Larson concluded four years of US Navy service and got a job at a pizza parlor in San Mateo, California. A year later, he founded his own: Round Table Pizza. Using a King Arthur theme, Round Table has often featured knights and shields in its logo. The knight theme originated when Larson saw drawings of King Arthur's court eating pizza.


The brainchild of two Georgia Tech students, Mellow Mushroom opened in Atlanta, Georgia as a one-off pizzeria. Today, it boasts more than 150 locations, and is regularly inching further westward.


Macaroni and cheese pizza from Cicis

Cicis is the world's largest pizza buffet chain. It features all sorts of wild stuff including a macaroni-and-cheese pizza.

Source: PMQ Pizza Magazine

Pop Culture
North Pole Blockbuster Video, One of Chain’s Few Remaining Stores, Is Closing

With streaming quickly becoming the new standard in movie-watching, the majority of today’s youngsters will never know the joy that came with a Friday night visit to the local Blockbuster Video store. Nor will they understand the inherent drama such an outing could bring: “Ooh, look Hocus Pocus is on VHS! Oh no, that kid got the last copy!” That already-tiny number is about to shrink even further with the announcement that Alaska’s North Pole Blockbuster, one of only an estimated eight stores left in the U.S., is closing its doors.

The announcement was made on Monday afternoon via the store’s Facebook page, which thanked its employees for their service:

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner spoke with Kevin Daymude, the store’s general manager, who pointed to declining sales as the reason for the shuttering. “Do we have a great clientele? Yes, without a doubt,” Daymude said. “It just declined.”

While Blockbuster Video filed for bankruptcy in 2010, the brand continued to license its iconic blue-and-yellow ticket stub logo to franchisees, the bulk of which are located in Alaska. Why Alaska? Lack of broadband and high Internet price tags in the state mean that streaming content isn’t as simple as just pointing and clicking.

“A lot of [the stores] are still quite busy,” Alan Payne, a Blockbuster licensee-owner who owns a handful of the few remaining stores in the U.S., told The Washington Post in 2017. “If you went in there on a Friday night you’d be shocked at the number of people.”

Earlier this year Payne was forced to close his Edinburg, Texas store, the last Blockbuster in Texas, which had been operating since the 1990s. But Alaska won’t be Blockbuster-free anytime soon. Even with the North Pole store’s closing, there are still four remaining locations in Alaska.

While the North Pole store ceased its rental operations on Sunday, it will remain open through April while it sells off its inventory of movies and fixtures. The only question is whether there’s a VHS copy of Jerry Maguire somewhere in there.


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