When Wendy's released the hugely successful Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger last July, it wasn't just some sort of deliciously meaty fluke: it only happened because hundreds of people at Wendy's HQ (including clairvoyant food trend experts) worked with food suppliers and focus group burger-eaters (Editor's note: HOW DO YOU GET THIS JOB?!?) to create it. Strangely, that over-enthusiastic redhead from their commercials was left out of this process, despite her unabashed zeal for Wendy's products.
After talking to Shelly Thobe, Wendy's Director of Culinary Product Innovations, we learned the basics of how a Wendy's burger gets created:
1. They create flavor profiles that you don't know you want yet
Thobe's team stays 1-2yrs ahead of trends in what people are eating. (They would not tell us what flavors are coming up next, because that information could potentially make them a lot of money, but Sriracha definitely has to be in the mix, right?!?) They look at what foods are becoming popular regionally in the US and ask focus groups of consumers what they're interested in eating on a burger. The Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger took about a year from development to the time it got on the menu.