The Guilty Pleasure: Bacon Fondue Fries
Where to Get It: Wendy’s
What it Really Costs: The life of all other fast food cheese fries
If you’ve been following the fast food world at all over the last few months, then you know that Wendy’s has released several different variations of cheese fries as “luxury” side items. Some have been tasty while others are rather uninspiring, but they’ve come from pretty much the same formula time and time again.
Take some slightly undercooked fries, smother them in a cheap enough cheese sauce that it seems like it should be sprayed from a can, add a healthy amount of better-than-average fast food bacon, and then add in spices or more bacon or whatever you want to make them worth spending a few bucks on. It was novel the first couple of times, but it eventually became far too predictable.
But now it seems that maybe Wendy’s was just lulling us to sleep before they turned their side dish on its head.
On paper, the Bacon Fondue Fries seem like they should just be another boring addition to the rotating line. Upon setting eyes upon the same black plastic plate that the others were also served on, it was clear that they weren’t.
Sure, the fries and bacon are the same as ever (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as the bacon has always been the highlight), but it’s the cheese where there’s a noteworthy difference. Instead of adding flavored bells and whistles, they replaced the stadium nacho-like cheese with an actual thick and creamy white fondue.
Was it the best fondue we’ve ever been served? No. Was it the best fondue we’ve ever been served through a drive-through window? Absolutely. Not only did the savory cheese sauce make everything seem more luxurious (not necessarily fancy, but less trashy than most things you’d expect in fast food), but it was also significantly more filling. They’re really what all fast food cheese fries should strive to be.
It might not be the best idea, but you could probably pass off an order of Wendy’s Bacon Fondue Fries as something much classier next time you have a date over by putting it on a real plate instead of the cheap plastic. Actually, you might want to get a couple of orders, as we were left wanting more after a single portion of these fries.
Yogurt with fruit and nuts (210), toast and jam (85), coffee (2), beef stir-fry and farro (400), diet soda (0), pretzels (220), pear (100), chicken and arugula (490), brussels sprouts and squash (55), water (0), wine (120), cookies (200)
Writers, nutritionists, doctors, chefs and Michelle Obama have all been promoting a hot new diet: home-cooked food. “People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought,” Michael Pollan recently told Mark Bittman, both authors and advocates of the cook-it-yourself diet. “It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.” The magic of the diet, its advocates say, is that it doesn’t mean skimping on portions or going without meat, eggs, cheese, alcohol or dessert.
We asked James Briscione, the director of culinary development at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, to prove it by preparing some examples of a day’s worth of home-cooked meals totaling about 2,000 calories, everything included. You can see the delectable results. It’s worth noting that you can just as easily stay under 2,000 calories with a simpler daily menu that includes, say, Cheerios, soup, a roll, a yogurt snack, fajitas, rice and beans, a salad, dessert and beverages. Such a menu may take more than time than fast food — which is why restaurant meals can be so appealing for time-stretched lower-income families. But the cost itself doesn’t need to be a barrier: Home-cooked meals are often cheaper than even fast food.