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Winner, Winner! Wendy's new tenders are heavy on the chicken, light on the breading

Wendy's new tenders are heavy on the chicken, light on the breading

Houston, Wendy's chicken nuggets, October 2017
Drive-Thru Gourmet Ken Hoffman reviews Chicken Tenders, new at Wendy's.  Courtesy

This week I reached out for a 4-piece order of Chicken Tenders, new from the No. 3 burger flipper, Wendy’s, with 6,500 restaurants across the U.S. and ‘round this crazy blue marble.

Wendy’s is a little late to the chicken tenders fray, following McDonald’s powerhouse intro of Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders last month. Wendy’s is banking on its tenders being different enough to gain a foothold. Wendy’s big diff: less breading. Wendy’s says their entry is for “fans who crave chicken tenders that taste like chicken, not just battered breading.”

Oh yeah? Tell that to Long John Silver’s, who always toss a ladle of crumblies – plain fried breading shrapnel that fell into the grease – on their fish platters. Crumblies are delicious. Now if Long John’s can just forget the fish and shrimp and clams, they’d really be onto something.

Here’s the Wendy’s Chicken Tenders breakdown

Four strips of 100-percent white meat chicken, dredged in coarse breading and plunged into the deep fryer. Served with a side packet of new S’Awesome dipping sauce.

Total calories: 400. Fat grams: 19. Sodium: 1,230 mg. Carbs: 26 g. Dietary fiber: 0 g. Protein: 29 g. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $4.19.

Wendy’s has a limited-time-only deal, three chicken tenders, small fries, and a small soda for $5.

Here’s one of Wendy’s humble brags, these Chicken Tenders are made with “simple ingredients found in your pantry.” That sounds, as Larry David would say, pretty, pretty, pretty good. We all like food with ingredients we recognize without having to dig out our old Chemistry 101 text book. So let’s click on the Wendy’s website and check out these “simple ingredients.”

And I quote: “Chicken Breast Tenders, with Rib Meat, Water, Food Starch, Seasoning [Yeast Extract, Citrus Extract (Lemon, Lime and Orange)], Salt. Breaded with Wheat Flour, Water, Salt, Rice Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Spices, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Dextrose, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Chicken Broth, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor and Extractives of Paprika. Breading Set In Vegetable Oil. Cooked in Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil, Vegetable Oil [May Contain One Or More Of the Following: Canola, Corn, Or Cottonseed], Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Dimethylpolysiloxane [Anti-Foaming Agent]). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain wheat and fish."

Just my luck, I checked my pantry and I’m out of Dimethylpolysiloxane. Word to Wendy’s … next time, don’t challenge me.

I will admit, Wendy’s Chicken Tenders are good ‘n’ meaty and chicken definitely is the star attraction over the light, crunchy breading. I liked them a whole lot. Because the breading is so light, I’m good for a double order of tenders. We’re starting to get pricey.

The S’Awesome Sauce is new, created just for the Chicken Tenders unveiling. Wendy’s boasts it's “combining tangy, sweet, and smoky into one savory flavor." Where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah, McDonald’s describes its new signature sauce as the “ideal balance of sweet and tangy flavors.”

Looks like teacher will have to separate Wendy’s and McDonald’s on test day.