15 Surprising Facts About Wendy's

Even if you're an avid fan of the Frosty or can't get enough of the Baconator, there are probably a few things you don't know about Wendy's, the third biggest burger chain in the U.S.

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

Mike Mozart via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

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

2. Wendy's founder Dave Thomas never knew his biological family.

Thomas was adopted when he was just 6 weeks old and never met his birth parents. Though he did attempt to find his biological mother when he was 21 years old, he learned 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—apparently wanted nothing to do with his famous half-brother.

3. Despite his own experience, Wendy's founder created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Thomas didn’t have a great experience with adoption. His adoptive mother died when he was just 5 years old 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, Thomas 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. Wendy's founder 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 GED at the age of 61. His graduating class voted him “Most Likely to Succeed.”

5. Wendy's founder Dave Thomas used to work for Harland Sanders.

A portrait of Colonel Harland Sanders, painted by Norman Rockwell.Normal Rockwell, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

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 restaurant chain.

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

The first Wendy's restaurant opened in Columbus, Ohio, in 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's 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. Wendy's serves up about 300 million Frostys annually.

Getty Images

Thomas was obviously on to something when he came up with the Frosty. Wendy’s serves about 300 million of them annually.

9. Wendy's 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.

Thomas got his inspiration for Wendy's famously square burger 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. Wendy's 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, however, proved to be too labor-intensive, and the salad bar was eventually phased out of stores.

12. Clara Peller, the actress known for starring in Wendy's “Where’s the Beef” campaign, was fired.

Clara Peller, famous for gruffly wondering why her hamburger didn’t feature much hamburger, was dropped from Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" 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. Wendy's has 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 the Wendy's 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 then-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.

This story has been updated for 2020.

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

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You Can Now Buy Your Very Own Baby Yoda Space Macarons

© Lucasfilm
© Lucasfilm

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

When the hit Star Wars series The Mandalorian premiered on Disney+ last fall, executives withheld merchandise to make sure viewers were surprised by the sudden appearance of The Child, a cooing puppet that appears to be of the same species as Jedi master Yoda. Knowing demand for toys and other items for "Baby Yoda" would be high, Disney stood firm.

Those days are over. Now, fans of the series can buy everything from The Child plush dolls to the space macarons the goblin-faced tyke munches on in the fourth episode of the show’s second season. The blue macarons, dubbed Nevarro Nummies after the name of the planet Mando and The Child landed on in the episode, are available at Williams Sonoma for $49.99.

Nevarro Nummies.Williams Sonoma

According to the company’s site, the “ethereal French-style almond macarons” are perfect for “capturing the essence of this scene.” Bear in mind the “essence” of the scene involves The Child throwing a Force tantrum by using his skills to swipe the cookies from a student’s desk while briefly placed at a school.

The precocious creature’s voracious appetite has been a running theme on the series, with some viewers taken aback by a scene in an earlier episode in which he devoured the eggs of a critically endangered frog species. (“Baby Yoda Canceled Amid Accusations of Genocide,” read the Vanity Fair headline.) What will Baby Yoda eat next, and can you buy it? Tune in this week to find out.

[h/t Nerdist]