Wendy's 4 Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich Advertisement Vs Reality

Reader and Flickr Pool Member Tengaport writes in with an age old question. Should the sandwich look like the picture?:

I’m not so na

ve to think that photos (especially food items) are entirely indicative of the end result, but shouldn’t they at least resemble the product somewhat realistically? In the drive through image the ‘4-Alarm’ Spicy Chicken looks like quite a sandwich. The chicken is overlapping the bun and everything is stacked impressively high. In reality, the chicken on my sandwich was nearly hidden inside the sandwich and stacked maybe half the height of the advertisement.

This is a question that has puzzled philosophers since the Michael Douglas movie “Falling Down” was released. There is no answer. Only a lack of chicken. —MEGHANN MARCO

(Photos: Tengaport,Tengaport)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Hoss says:

    If you’re not going to eat that — can I have it?

  2. mopar_man says:

    I saw a show on this a few years ago. They rarely use actual food items to make the photograph of the item.

  3. 5h17h34d says:

    Hell, I went to Wendy’s the other evening after work to get a salad and they told me they were out of lettuce. JesusHChrist it’s like a bar being out of beer! The bad part is I instead ordered a burger and fries and both were hours old at the very least. Unfit for human consumption.

  4. swalve says:

    The FTC has very specific rules for food advertising. The photo can’t have anything that isn’t in the sandwich. If the directions for the sandwich say 4 jalepeno slices, 3 oz of chicken and two lettuce slices, only that can be in the ad. That said, they ARE allowed to arrange the ingredients in any way they want. So, all the ingredients hang out the one side that’s in view. And they make sure when they’re building the sandwich to pick out the best looking specimens of each ingredient.

    The reader has a legitimate complaint, but it’s with the boneheads working in that store. They prepared a sloppy sandwich, and most likely used a piece of chicken that’s not in spec.

  5. MeOhMy says:

    None of it ever looks anything like the picture.

  6. The Bigger Unit says:

    …the bun looks similar.

    To a degree.

  7. acambras says:

    The photo almost always looks better than the real thing.

  8. Bix says:

    My favorite is Elmer’s Glue as milk in cereal.

    Did you complain since Wendy’s stuff is theoretically “fresh?”

  9. Rajio says:

    IF anything, i’m supprised at how similar it looks to the picture.

  10. winnabago says:

    I looks like it’s all there, just a little tipped over. What’s the problem?

    You should have known there wouldn’t be flames. Duh.

  11. Art Vandelay says:

    It’s like my chicken sandwich is tearing ass around my kitchen table.

  12. AcilletaM says:

    Do you want your sandwich in 30 seconds or in the 2 hours it took to make the one in the picture?

  13. Kornkob says:

    @5h17h34d: That’s funny– at the Wendy’s we have around here they don’t have any place to store burgers for any length of time. You can see the line from the counter and the burgers go from the grill to the prep station to the bag. No ‘holding bin’ or heat lamps in between.

    Fries are another matter but then I usually opt for the chili instead of the fries.

  14. homerjay says:

    It looks to me like the only thing that doesn’t appear to be too fresh is the lettuce. From what I can see everything else looks like it should, save for the fact that its been all pushed around.

  15. acambras says:

    The photo doesn’t show the bonus hair, body parts or body fluids that you can get with some fast food meals.

  16. chimmike says:

    getting a sandwich to look like the ads would require franchises to hire people the can actually fog mirrors….

  17. Morton Fox says:

    It looks edible. That’s plenty.

    I have hundreds of pictures of food and, although some were pretty close, none of them ever came out looking exactly like the advertisement. That’s just something you have to accept.

  18. mattshu says:

    The person who wrote this is right. I don’t even see one flame around the real sandwich, while the photo shows that it’s engulfed inflames.

  19. aloe vera says:

    That chipotle sauce is CLEARLY 3-alarm. Not 4-alarm as advertised. I’d be miffed, too!

  20. Elaine Chow says:

    That was a hilarious movie. I think you shoulda gone ape-shit with the semi-automatic you had previously gotten off a gang member who had tried to run you over with his car.

    And then you could’ve yelled at them for not serving breakfast at 11:02.

  21. Rahnee says:

    One of my many previous jobs was photographing food. We used paint and coffee creamer instead of milk. Most of the sandwiches were halves with the back half missing and taped to cardboard pieces to facilitate better stacking. Poultry was usually raw and painted with makeup if it was supposed to be “baked”. Ice in drinks is clear plastic cubes so there is no clouding. Just some tidbits of info you might enjoy reading.

  22. DeeJayQueue says:

    It’s impossible for the food you order to look like it does in the picture, because the food in the picture is most likely not food at all. If you wanted a plastic sandwich, then i’m sure they could oblige you. Real food wilts, goes bad and does not look appetizing under the harsh lighting that photographers use. Most often the food is made of plastic and sprayed with a little water or oil before shooting.

    The right thing to compare the sandwich to is itself. If it’s something you order a lot does it look consistant, or is this just a slop job that doesn’t match what you usually get?

  23. MeOhMy says:

    Actually, the gang member tried to kill you in drive-by shooting and crashed his car taking a corner too fast.

    Ever the educator, you shoot him in the leg point-blank and say “You see? That’s the concept. Get some shooting lessons, A–hole!”

  24. FLConsumer says:

    Ah, yes, the wonderful world of media. I remember doing a commercial for ice cream. In reality, it was mashed potatoes, colored and styled to look like ice cream. No butter either! Gross.

  25. xredgambit says:

    well it is faulse advertisement. Its only 3 alarm, 2.5 at best. Shame on wendys

  26. speed1001 says:

    “George Likes His Chicken Spicy!!!”

  27. Joe_Bagadonuts says:

    Haha, the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture, even before I read the rest of the post was D-FENS Foster in “Falling Down.”

    “Can anybody tell me what’s wrong with this picture?”

  28. virgilstar says:

    Reminds me of the Seinfeld where his intro’ was on food photography, imagining a burger photo-shoot with the photographer asking the burger to lift the bun and show a little more flesh!

    BTW – what’s the etymology of the phrase “4 alarm fire”? Presumably if a fire is big enough to set off one fire alarm, it’s worth responding to. Why 4 alarms? Why not 56?

    And is anyone in the least bit surprized that something sold by Wendy’s doesn’t meet the advertising claims?

  29. Stepehn Colbert says:

    I would have at least, appreciated a giant insect leg in my chicken sandwhich.

  30. LeopardSeal says:

    @virgilstar: The use of a number of “alarms” as a reference to the heat of food is taken from fire-fighting, where the number of alarms indicates how many different fire houses are called in to combat a particular fire. Hence a “four alarm fire” is much bigger than a “two alarm”.

  31. uomdeacon says:

    I just ordered one of those for lunch today; and it actually did look pretty good. I’m wishing now that I had taken a picture; but I hadn’t read this post yet. The thing is…how many people actually care what their fast food looks like? More importantly to me, the new Wendy’s sandwich was actually kind of good.

  32. biggeek says:

    Looks fine to me…Are you going to eat it or stare at it?

  33. Youthier says:

    @5h17h34d: Once I went to Taco Bell and they were out of beef.

    Or “beef”. Whatever.

  34. Wasabe says:

    That looks like the same bread they use for the Frescata sandwiches. Guess those aren’t selling too well.

  35. Like others have said… as long as it tastes good, I dont care.

  36. a says:

    @David Bixenspan/mopar_man: As Swalve said, there are pretty harsh regulations on the actual food being used in the photograph. It also doesn’t need to be cooked necessarily — just the food ingredients.

    And the reason they get away with glue in the cereal bowl is that they’re only technically selling the cereal.

    Fun facts!

  37. aparsons says:

    Make it nice, or make it twice.

  38. reginae says:

    Where’s the tomato?

  39. Helvetian says:

    The chicken looks crispy, might have to go try this for lunch tomorrow.

  40. Trick says:

    For those who live in CA, AZ & NV, they know that the In-N-Out Double Double displayed on any random billboard will look just like the burger they order.

    Not so true for most other fast food joints.

  41. Mad_Science says:

    Dude…if you’re complaining about the appearance of your food at a fast food place…you’re kinda missing the point. I must say I’m on board with Trick, In-n-Out has the best looking food of any chain. I’d say Wendy’s and Carl’s Junior are the worst.

    Of course, no one’s stopping you from going to the grocery store, buying some cold cuts from the deli counter, a head of lettuce, and a loaf of sourdough. You might find it’s cheaper too. No “X Alarm Chipotle Sauce,” though…

  42. loueloui says:

    I remember some time ago at McDonalds I had ordered the ‘2 for $2’ Big Macs. Well the first one I took a bite of, and partially swallowed a very long brown hair. I immediately spit out the bite, and grabbed the hair. I could feel it slithering out of my throat when I pulled it out. Bluargh.

    I went to the manager to complain, and incredulously he didn’t want to give me my money back for the second sandwich because ‘there wasn’t anything wrong with it’.

  43. Sawta says:

    I’ve worked at a local (New Jersey) Wendys for nearly two years and I can assure (whoever) took that picture that sandwhiches should not look that terrible.

    I can only assume that there was either a new sandwhich maker, a sandwhich maker who was un-firmiliar in how to make the sandwhich (even though there are zeroxed directions by each sandwhich making station), or the person was drunk.

  44. hockeyrcks9901 says:

    I currently work at Wendy’s as a Shift Manager and let me tell you that the Four Alarm sandwiches were rather hard to make…the sauce makes the jalapeños, lettuce and tomato slide around which is why they may be in a bad spot. The spicy chicken should NOT be that small however…and at most Wendy’s, you can just walk up to any person at the counter and ask for a new sandwich and most of us will not even ask why.

    Another thing is that by Wendy’s “Rules” we can only keep the meat after it has left the grill for about 3-5 minutes depending on the size of the meat. And we NEVER make sandwiches in advance, they are made when you order them. Also, french fries can be kept under the heat lamps for 7 minutes, after that we throw them away. Fried and grilled chicken is kept in our warmers for up to an hour but they usually never make it past 30 minutes.