Can you believe Wendy’s sells over one million baked potatoes weekly? The lonely spud offering debuted in 1983 as a healthy food choice over concerns of better reduced-calorie menu alternatives. Baking potatoes are time-consuming and would not fit in a fast food environment. Wendy’s has never looked back since the first baked potato was sold.
“If you’ve ever cooked baked potatoes at home, you know it takes a while,” Lori Estrada, Wendy’s vice president of culinary innovation, tells Thrillist. “And we cook them from a raw state, in an oven, wrapped in foil, baked for an hour, just like you would at home.”
For the most part, when a fast food restaurant creates a new trend, others will be quick to follow. Subway started the sub craze, and now there are multiple deli sandwich chains competing with it, and Chick-fil-A did the same with the fried chicken sandwich. However, a few trends, like Wendy’s baked potato, have never been copied. Wendy’s has had a lot of success with their healthy alternative for decades, but no other fast food joint has tried to bake their potatoes instead of frying them.
Fun Fact: In 1974, an Englishman named Eric Jenkins grew 370 pounds of potatoes from one plant.