A Fan-Favorite Wendy’s Menu Item Is Coming To A Grocery Store Near You

Wendy's is partnering with Conagra Brands to offer its chili in grocery stores.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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Wendy’s iconic chili will soon be available on store shelves. The news was revealed by Conagra Brands, a consumer goods packaging company, during the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference last week. Headquartered in Chicago, it sells products under various brand names that are available in supermarkets, restaurants, and other food service establishments.

The Wendy’s-branded canned chili will be sold in 15-ounce cans, The Tasting Table reports. The product will be made with minimally processed beef and contains 29 grams of protein per serving. It’s currently unclear if the tasty meal will be available at every retailer or if it’s exclusive to certain stores. The canned version will hit stores later this year, ComicBook reports.

Chili has been on Wendy’s menu since 1969. The meal formed part of the eatery’s uncomplicated debut offering. This included single, double, and triple patty burgers, fries, soft drinks, and the Frosty. The chili, which cost just 55 cents at the time, immediately differentiated the company from other fast food outlets.

Over five decades later, Wendy’s chili is still extremely popular with food lovers. Still, other mainstream fast food outlets have never bothered to sell their own version of the product. This is largely due to the meal being an odd choice for a burger joint. Restaurant founder, Dave Thomas admitted that it was an odd choice in his memoir Dave’s Way.

In the book, he said people often ask why Wendy’s had chili on the menu. His justification is rather solid no matter the year. Thomas explained that it was a great way to cut down on food waste and turn a small profit from meat that can’t be used for much else. “It’s real easy,” he said via Mashed. “What do you do with the leftover hamburger?”

Despite the chili being a money-saving offering, its quality was a priority from day one. According to the book, Wendy’s only employed three workers when it opened. This included Dave Thomas who served as company bookkeeper and chili maker. The other two folks handled the cash register as well as the burgers, fries, and Frosty machine.

That means making sure Wendy’s chili tasted good was just as important to Thomas as the finances of his fast-food business. And the meal is still as popular as it was in the 1960s. In 2020, the restaurant served over 83 million bowls of chili across the United States, Mashed reports. So what’s the secret ingredient that has people hooked?

Along with red and pink kidney beans, Wendy’s chili also includes onions, celery, green peppers, tomato, and ground beef. While it’s a relatively simple recipe, there’s another common ingredient that food lovers may not associate with the food. That’s sugar! It features prominently in the seasoning, which includes more traditional items like salt, dried chilies, pepper, and more, the eatery’s website says.

According to Cook’s Illustrated, sugar enhances the flavor of meat dishes because it helps brown the protein for a caramelized finish. In Wendy’s chili, the sugar blends with the naturally occurring acidity in tomatoes which gives the food a more balanced taste.