This week I reached out for a freshly baked, traditional Sugar Cookie, new from the No. 3 burger flipper, Wendy's, with 6,500 restaurants down the block and around the world.
Like Beyoncé dropping a new CD without warning, Wendy's introduced three new cookies last month with little fanfare: Sugar Cookies, Double Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Chunk.
Yeah, just like Beyoncé.
Here's how the Sugar Cookie crumbles: large flat cookies, about four inches across, baked fresh throughout the day in each Wendy's restaurant. They are served at room temp. Wendy's doesn't pop them back in the oven for warming. Gooey factor: zero.
Total calories: 330 per cookie. Fat grams: 16. Sodium: 300 mg. Carbs: 43 g. Dietary fiber: 1 g. Protein: 3 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $1.39 each, or 99 cents as a throw-in to a combo meal.
Reason for the soft opening with no commercials, no splashy sign in the window: the burger chain is focused on Chicken Tenders as it's headline new product. Plus Wendy's, like most fast food chains, has had trouble breaking a hit dessert. Wendy's most successful sweet is the frozen Frosty, and it's tough to consider that a dessert when teenagers dip their French fries in it.
The Sugar Cookie is the size you usually find at cookie shops in mall food courts. It's flat and soft and served in a neat paper sack. Miss Manners might say to break off pieces in the bag and eat the cookie that way. Some will see if they can fit a whole cookie in their mouth. I tried. Failed. It's a big cookie.
Here's the thing about Sugar Cookies. They're pale and plain-looking. There are no chocolate chips or candy bits or marshmallow bumps. They're sweet, all right, but it's a generic sugar rush. Don't all cookies start off as sugar cookies, until you add the good stuff?
Wendy's is able to offer freshly baked cookies because, unlike many fast food joints, Wendy's has a real-life, restaurant-quality oven on premises. It's the same oven that Wendy's uses for its baked potatoes topped with chili, one of the great unsung meals in Burger Land.
Wendy's new cookies are first rate, as good as dessert gets in the drive-through, but $1.39 and 330 calories are pretty steep prices for one cookie. If you're a three cookie (minimum) person, you're closing in on $5 for dessert and almost 1,000 calories.
Bottom line: a cookie shouldn't cost more than a cheeseburger, even a dinky one on the value menu.