The critics are starting to cause changes in America's restaurants.
Unfortunately, Wendy's is responding by confusing, if not deceiving, its customers.
Last year, the chain did away with its "biggie" and "great biggie" portion names.
But that doesn't mean sizes are getting smaller. The Biggie portion size — the equivalent of almost three 12-ounce cans of soda for the drinks — is called a medium. It didn't get smaller, just a name change. Who in their right minds calls three cans of Coke, medium? When you go into 7-Eleven and ask for a medium Pepsi, do they give you three cans of soda? Of course not.
A "medium" drink is 32 ounces and the "large" drink overflows its banks with 42 ounces. Wendy's calls it a "river of icy-cold refreshment." Critics say it's a setback in the battle against obesity.
NYU professor Lisa Young, who wrote the book The Portion Teller, warns that Wendy's subtle name change may encourage customers to eat and drink more than they should.
Wendy’s International Inc. research shows demand for big drinks, but people were confused by the designation of Biggie and Great Biggie, the former extra-large size, spokesman Denny Lynch said. Switching to a more straightforward small, medium and large sizes made sense, he said.
"When something is called 'biggie,' you know that it's big and maybe you shouldn't finish it," Young said. "That's a quart of soda for one person. My worry is that calling it 'medium' gives people the illusion they can drink without guilt."
Even a "small" soft drink at Wendy's is now 20 ounces. That's 25 percent bigger than before the name change.
As for the new 42-ounce soda, with up to 100 more calories than the old '"biggie," Lynch says it's not really intended to be drunk in a single sitting, but rather consumed throughout the day.
That was last year. This year, Wendy's decided to totally confuse its customers in New York City. You cannot find out how many calories are in those "medium" fries. Not in the store. Not even on the website.
They stopped providing calorie information on their website for New York City residents. Because the Dept. of Health requires restaurants -- with info on its website -- to post product calories on its menu boards. And surprise, surprise. Wendy's doesn't have "enough room" to put that information on its menu.
Straight from Columbus, Ohio hypocrisy headquarters:
We fully support the intent of this regulation; however, since most of our food is made-to-order, there isn't enough room on our existing menu boards to comply with the regulation. We have for years provided complete nutritional information on posters inside the restaurant and on our website. To continue to provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants on our website and on our nutritional posters would subject us to this regulation. As a result, we will no longer provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants.
Ironically, nutrition is now an orphan at Wendy's.