In 1802, Thomas Jefferson served "potatoes made in a French manner" and America was hooked--french fries have ever since been a staple of the U.S. love affair with fast and/or comfort food.
Among the most popular purveyors of the fried treats, McDonald's set the standard for the best fries. Burger King tried, and failed, to match McDonald's share of the french fry market and Wendy's attempt was met with discorn--its fries were too thick and thus too soggy for the palette of most Americans.
That's all changing. Wendy's has replaced its thick fries with a crisper, skin-on version flavored with sea salt. A new campaign, from the Kaplan Thaler Group, is breaking this week to promote the natural-cut fries.
The new fry hit Wendy's locations in November and since then sales have risen to 10% per 100 transactions, according to a story today on AdAge.com.
The fries were pushed in measured media late last year and consumers have noticed. In a study done by Technomic Consumer Brand Metrics in February, 61% of those surveyed had tried the new fries and, out of that group, 77% said they would recommend the new, improved product.
Wendy's labeling of the product with words like "sea salt" and "natural" has struck a chord with consumers. According to the research, the words connote a lack of processing compared to other fast-food offerings.
Overall, Wendy's same store sales were up 0.2% in the fourth quarter 2010 compared with that same period a year earlier. And, while Wendy's still trails dramatically behind McDonald's 48.2% share, the third place fast food brand is closing in on Burger King--Wendy's share is now about 13% compared to BK's 13.9%.
Perhaps it's time for the creepy king to make a comeback on BK's behalf.