Reality Check: Wendy's New Frosty Parfaits
I love Wendy's; so it pains me to admit that their new Frosty parfaits are, for the most part, sub-par.
Back in June of last year, I ranked the Twisted Frosty as my favorite of the three national chain milkshake-like desserts that I tried. I love the Frosty's texture, not quite liquid, but like slightly runny ice cream, air-lightened. But is it a good vehicle for add-ins?
New on the menu is the Wild Berry Frosty Parfait, which Wendy's describes as "our classic Frosty [with] a very berry and flavorful twist [and] fresh, hand-sliced strawberries and juicy blueberries." In reality, it was soupy, melty, bubbly soft serve with what seemed like strawberry pancake syrup. The stawberries may have been "hand-sliced" at some point but mine were semi-frozen, and not too flavorful. The blueberries, I will agree, were plump, juicy, and slightly tart. But in the time it took to actually assemble the thing, the Frosty had melted from a semi-solid milkshake consistency to a runny mess. (The additional berry juices and liquid ingredients didn't help matters.)
Their second new item is the Caramel Apple Frosty Parfait: "Our creamy, classic Frosty swirled with all-natural brown sugar granola, fresh red and green apple slices, and real caramel." Once again, soupy soft serve rears its ugly head. Perhaps Wendy's employees are still just learning how to assemble the parfaits, but when it takes 5 minutes to doctor up something that's barely frozen to begin with, you're going to be handed a melted dessert. The granola was limp when I'd hoped for crunch; any textural interest it might have had was soaked right through. The apples were mealy and not very flavorful. As for the caramel—well, when the marketing folks can only come up with "real" as an adjective to describe it, you're not in for any sort of hidden gem.
The Oreo Frost Parfait has been on the menu for a while. It's basically a vanilla Frosty with Oreo cookie pieces and chocolate syrup. The cashier said it was her favorite, and it was mine, too. It's guilty of all the sins of the predecessors: melted, formless Frosty and unexciting syrup. However, it's got big hunks of Oreo, and Oreo makes everything better; it didn't have sub-par fruit to make up for; and it didn't have said fruit's juices liquifying everything. Also, vanilla Frosty with stray cookie bits is a more appealing thing than vanilla frosty with mealy apple bits.
I can't say I'd recommend the new parfaits; frankly, I don't think that the Frosty itself is a very good vehicle for a "parfait," the way Dairy Queens's soft serve is. I liked the blended Frosties last year, but the things take better to blending than they do layering. Sorry Wendy's, but I gotta call a spade a spade.
About the Author: John M. Edwards, the fast-food bureau chief at Serious Eats, also writes about fast food and regional chains at fastfoodr.com. His day job relates to personal training and nutrition. (Seriously.) Follow him at @johnmedwards.