Wendy's is an international fast food restaurant chain founded by Dave Thomas on November 15, 1969, in Columbus, Ohio, United States. The company moved its headquarters to Dublin, Ohio, on January 29, 2006. As of 2016, Wendy's was the world's third largest hamburger fast food chain with 6,482 locations, following Burger King's 15,003 locations and McDonald's' 36,525 locations. On April 24, 2008, the company announced a merger with Triarc Companies Inc., a publicly traded company and the parent company of Arby's. Despite the new ownership, Wendy's headquarters remained in Dublin. Previously, Wendy's had rejected more than two buyout offers from Triarc. Following the merger, Triarc became known as Wendy's/Arby's Group, and later as The Wendy's Company.
As of January 3, 2016, there were a total of 6,479 locations, including 632 that are company-owned. Approximately 85% of Wendy's restaurants (or 5,847 locations) are franchised, and 77% of them are located in North America. Wendy's and its affiliates employ more than 47,000 people in its global operations. In fiscal year 2006, the firm had $2.469 billion (USD) in total sales. While Wendy's sets standards for exterior store appearance, food quality and menu, individual owners have control over hours of operations, interior decor, pricing and staff uniforms and wages.
Wendy's menu consists primarily of hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries and beverages, including the Frosty. Unlike Burger King and McDonald's, the company does not have a signature sandwich, such as the Whopper or the Big Mac. Instead, it has the Dave's 1/4 lb. Single (introduced in 2011 as Dave's Hot 'N Juicy as a reworking of the longstanding Wendy's Single, shortened to simply Dave's in 2016), a square-pattied burger made with fresh ground beef rather than round frozen patties. Wendy's uses these square hamburger patties – which hang over the edge of a circular bun – as its signature item.
The chain is known for its square hamburgers, sea salt fries and the Frosty, a form of soft serve ice cream mixed with frozen starches. The idea for Wendy's "old fashioned" hamburgers was inspired by Dave Thomas's trips to Kewpee Hamburgers in his home town of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Kewpee sold square hamburgers and thick malt shakes, much like the well-known restaurant that Thomas eventually founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969. The Columbus location later added a Tim Hortons and was closed on March 2, 2007, after 38 years of business due to declining sales. Thomas named the restaurant after his fourth child Melinda Lou "Wendy" Thomas. Photographs of her were on display at the original Wendy's restaurant until it closed. In August 1972, the first Wendy's franchisee, L.S. Hartzog, signed an agreement for Indianapolis, Indiana. Also, in 1972, Wendy's aired its first TV commercials that were only broadcast locally in Ohio. This series of commercials was titled "C'mon to Wendy's", because they stressed Wendy's superiority through the "Quality Is Our Recipe" slogan and featured an animated Wendy similar to the one from the corporate logo along with dancing hamburgers.
In December 1976, Wendy's opened its 500th restaurant, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Wendy's founded the fried chicken chain Sisters Chicken in 1978, and sold it to its largest franchiser in 1987.
Wendy's entered the Asian market by opening its first restaurants in Japan in 1980, in Hong Kong in 1982 and in the Philippines and Singapore in 1983. In 1984 Wendy's opened its first restaurant in South Korea.
In response to a 1986 slowdown in the chain's performance, Wendy's restructured its cleanliness standards, menu and other operational details to ensure that stores met the goals and standards of the parent company so that its franchises were competitive in the market. Wendy's closed all its outlets in Hong Kong in 1986 and in Singapore in the following year.
From 1988 to 1990 Wendy's expanded operations globally to Mexico, New Zealand, Indonesia, Greece, Turkey, Guatemala, as well as the U.S. Naval Base in Naples, Italy. In 1988, Wendy's expanded its bar to a full-blown buffet called the Superbar for $2.99. The Superbar had various stations: "Mexican Fiesta", the Italian "Pasta Pasta," and the "Garden Spot", salad and fruit. The Superbar was popular but difficult to maintain thus was discontinued in 1998.
In 1989, Wendy's opened its first restaurant in Greece at Syntagma Square being the first foreign fast food chain in the country. After opened 12 restaurants in 3 cities the company finally abandoned the Greek market in 2002.
Garden Sensations salads were added in 2002.
Wendy's signed a franchise agreement to re-enter in Singapore market in 2009. However, it quit Japan after 29 years of presence in the country due to differences with its local franchisee.
In 2011 Wendy's returned to Japan and Argentina announcing a development agreement for 50 restaurants in the country. It also entered the Russian market for first time with plans to open 180 restaurants over a 10-year period.
In 2014 Wendy's closed all its restaurants in Russia. In September 2014 several pork based products were introduced to be on sale until early November. These included a standard pulled pork sandwich with slaw and three sauce options, a BBQ Pulled Pork Cheeseburger and cheese fries with pulled pork, cheddar cheese sauce, onions and barbecue sauce.
Wendy's is planning to sell 540 of its restaurants. The divesture is the second step in a three-step action plan to improve the brand. Other steps include new openings and remodeling of existing stores. In 2015, the brand expects to open 80 new restaurants. It will remodel 450 of its existing locations. The brand's goal is to remodel at least 60% of its North American locations by 2020 year-end.
Wendy's offers two different hamburger patties, a "Junior" 1.78 ounce (50.4 gram) patty and its "Single" 4 ounce (113.4 gram) patty. 4-ounce patties are sold in single, double and triple sizes whereas the junior patties sell in single and double patties. The previous size of 2 ounces per junior patty was altered to its current size in 2007 to save on expenses from rising food costs. Originally Wendy's had only two kinds of chicken sandwiches, fried and grilled. The spicy chicken sandwich started out as a promotional sandwich. It was later put on the menu full-time in 1996 due to its popularity and the fact that, compared to most promotional sandwiches, it was much simpler to make (it used the same condiments as the standard breaded chicken sandwich).
The Frescata line of sandwiches also went from being promotional items to main-menu items. After going through several revisions, the Turkey and Swiss and the Ham and Swiss were put on the menu full-time. However, the Frescata sandwiches were discontinued in mid December 2007.
Occasionally, some Wendy's restaurants would offer a fried fish sandwich for some of its customers who desire fish instead of beef or chicken.
In 1988, Wendy's was the first fast-food chain to create a single price-point value menu where all items listed on that menu were priced exclusively at 99¢. The menu was restructured in 2007 due to rising costs as the Super Value Menu with prices ranging from 99¢ to $2.00 USD.
In mid-2007 Wendy's began a national debut of its new breakfast menu in its U.S. and Canadian stores. Wendy's experimented with serving breakfast for a short time in 1985, but the endeavor was unsuccessful due to many issues. While approximately 12 Wendy's restaurants in the U.S. and its territories have been serving breakfast since then, Wendy's has not had a company-wide breakfast offering. The new breakfast menu was expected be fully deployed to all Wendy's in the United States by the end of 2009, but as of July 2014, many Wendy's franchises across the country still do not have a breakfast menu.
The newer breakfast menu differs slightly from the one featured in 1985, and it is structured similarly to its lunch/dinner menu, with value meals and various sides like blended fruit. Menu items include several breakfast sandwiches served on biscuits, frescuit and Kaiser rolls, breakfast burritos and side orders of hash browns, muffins, and cinnamon sticks. In order to avoid the same issues the original 1985 breakfast offerings faced, the new menu was designed for ease of operation, lower costs, and reduced preparation time.
- Frosty dessert – a frozen dairy dessert sold in chocolate and vanilla flavors. The Frosty flavors are also sold as a float. Recently, Frosty Shakes – a Frosty blended with either caramel, strawberry or chocolate fudge syrup – have been served at Wendy's.
- Dave's - In late 2011, Wendy's altered the recipe for their Single, Double, and Triple burgers, which had been staples of the menu for decades, in order to rerelease each as part of the new Dave's Hot 'N Juicy line. As before, they were constructed from the same basic patty (and the words "Single," "Double," and "Triple" were retained at the end of the new names), but the patty was now thicker, and its square edges had been rounded off slightly. The cheese began to be stored at a warmer temperature, allowing it to melt more completely over the patty, alterations were made to the bun and the selection of produce (white onions were replaced by red onions), and the condiments now consisted of ketchup and mayonnaise rather than ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. They were updated in 2016 and renamed as simply Dave's, now using bakery-style buns.
- Big Classic – A sandwich that directly competed with the Burger King Whopper (no longer available in US stores). Mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup and onions served on a Kaiser-style roll. A second version with bacon was available, called the Big Bacon Classic, which was replaced with the Bacon Deluxe in 2009 when the Applewood Smoked Bacon was introduced.
- Baconator - Single Baconator is one quarter-pound patty topped with mayonnaise, ketchup, three strips of bacon and two slices of cheese; Double Baconator has mayonnaise, ketchup, six strips of bacon, two quarter-pound (113.4 gram) patties and three slices of American cheese; and the Triple Baconator (1360 calories) is three quarter-pound patties with nine strips of bacon, four slices of cheese, ketchup, and mayonnaise.
- Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger - Introduced in January 2014, the Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger is made with a quarter-pound beef patty, aged Asiago cheese, thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, rosemary garlic aïoli, and oven-roasted tomatoes. At launch, the sandwich was priced at $4.79 in the United States and was part of a strategy to market higher-priced menu items to help position Wendy's as a premium fast food chain. Wendy's advertised the sandwich as a limited-time product that would be withdrawn in March 2014. According to the company, the sandwich has 670 calories. The debut of the burger received positive reviews. Syndicated fast food columnist Ken Hoffman called the burger "another winner" and "worth the carbs,"  while the Phoenix New Times declared it was "one of the better burgers in the entire fast food industry." Reviewers at the Sioux City Journal offered more mixed evaluations, with only two of four taste testers saying they would be likely to try the burger a second time.
- Black bean burger - Wendy's and a number of major fast food chains have been targeted for decades for meatless entrees, typically, meatless 'veggieburgers' - and Wendy's response is the black bean burger (still in 'beta' testing in Salt Lake City, Utah; Columbus, Ohio; and Columbia, South Carolina). Its major ingredients are black beans, wild rice, farro, onions, brown rice, carrots, quinoa, corn, green bell peppers, and red bell peppers; and the sauce and seasonings include red wine vinegar, chili peppers, cumin, cilantro, and oregano and sea salt.
After successful early growth of the chain, sales flattened as the company struggled to achieve brand differentiation in the highly competitive fast-food market. This situation would turn around in the mid-1980s. Starting on January 9, 1984, elderly actress Clara Peller was featured in the successful "Where's the Beef?" North American commercial campaign written by Cliff Freeman. Her famous line quickly entered the American pop culture (it was even used by Walter Mondale in a debate with Gary Hart in the Democratic primary election) and served to promote Wendy's hamburgers. Peller, age 83, was dropped from the campaign in 1985 because she performed in a commercial for Prego spaghetti sauce, saying she "finally found" the beef.
Peller was soon after replaced by Wendy's founder Dave Thomas himself. Soft-spoken and bashful, the "Dave" ads generally focused on Thomas praising his products and offering a commitment to quality service, although there would occasionally be "wackier" ads as well. In 1997, the company pulled its advertising from the sitcom Ellen after the show's main character came out as a lesbian. The result was a boycott initiated by the gay and lesbian community. After Dave Thomas' death in 2002, Wendy's struggled to find a new advertising campaign. After a round of conventional ads describing the food they serve, in 2004 they tried using a character they made called "Mr. Wendy" who claimed to be the unofficial spokesperson for the chain. These proved to be extremely unsuccessful. After seven months, Wendy's returned to an animated campaign focusing on the difference between Wendy's square hamburgers and the round hamburgers of competitors.
Wendy's marketing arm engages in product placement in films and television and is sometimes seen on ABC's reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, serving food to the more than 100 construction workers. A recent Wendy's commercial features the tune from the Violent Femmes song "Blister in the Sun."
With their "That's right" ad campaign not a success, Wendy's unveiled a new ad campaign, featuring the animated version of their mascot voiced by Luci Christian highlighting certain menu items. The new ad campaign made its debut in late January 2008, with slogans: in the USA: "It's waaaay better than fast food. It's Wendy's." and in Canada,"Its waaaay delicious. It's Wendy's."  The company's slogan, "you know when it's real," was introduced in 2010.
A 2014 campaign to promote the Tuscan Chicken on Ciabatta sandwich entitled "L'Estrella de la Toscana," or "Star of Tuscany" in English was launched on television and social media. A 2014 campaign to promote the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger was run until November 2014 was shown to many people watching TV starting on March 18, 2014
United States – Canada
- 1969–1978: Quality Is Our Recipe (this slogan is still shown on the Wendy's logo today.)
- 1977–1980, 1987: Hot-N-Juicy
- 1977: We fix 'em 256 ways (alternate slogan)
- 1978–1979: Juicy hamburgers
- 1980–1981: Wendy's Has the Taste You Crave
- 1981–1982: Ain't No Reason to Go Anyplace Else
- 1982–1985: You're Wendy's Kind of People
- 1983–1984: Parts is parts
- 1984–1986: Where's the beef?
- 1985–1988: Choose Fresh, choose Wendy's (Originally used alongside "Where's the Beef?")
- 1987–1993: Give a little nibble was to be a catchy phrase that would capture the attention of consumers and help make Wendy's a major player on the fast-food scene once again. This television commercial was a flop and sent Wendy's hunting for a new advertising agency. After a poorly received seven-week run, Wendy's pulled the television commercials created by Dick Rich Inc. The "nibble" spots were meant to emphasize Wendy's better-tasting hamburger. They showed customers ripping off chunks of meat from an absurdly large hamburger.
- 1988–1992: The best burgers in the business.
- 1989–1998: The best burgers and a whole lot more (also was printed inside the hamburger wrappers during the 1990s)
- 1996 - 1998: The Best Burgers Yet!!
- 1997 – present: You can eat great, even late
- 2001–2005: It's hamburger bliss.
- 2002–2004: It's better here
- 2003–2007: It's Always Great, Even Late. (Canada)
- 2004–2007: Do what tastes right. (primary slogan)
- 2005 – present: It's good to be square.
- August 2006 – March 2008: That's right.
- August 2006 – March 2008: Uh-Huh.
- 2007–2008: Hot Juicy Burgers
- August 2007 – October 2009: It's way better than fast food... It's Wendy's. (United States)
- August 2007 – October 2009: It's way delicious. It's Wendy's. (Canada)
- August 2007 – October 2009: Carrément bon. C'est Wendy's. (EN: "Squarely good. It's Wendy's.") (Quebec, Canada)
- January 2010 – April 2012: You know when it's real.
- March 2012 – April 2016: Now that's better.
- May 2016 – Present: "Quality is our recipe."
- 1983 – present: It's the best time for... Wendy's (Philippines)
- 1994 (approx) – 2002: Wendy's η τετράγωνη επιλογή (Wendy's the square option) (Greece)
- 2000 (approx) – present: Quality is our recipe (Indonesia, New Zealand, Chile & United States)
- 2000 (approx) – present: Wendy's cuadra contigo (Wendy's fits with you). The word cuadra (fit) is a reference to the Spanish word cuadrado that means square. (Venezuela)
- 2001 (approx) – present: El Sabor de lo Recién Hecho (The Flavor of the Freshly Made) (Honduras)
- 2007 (approx) – 2009: Wendy's es Sensacional (Wendy's is Sensational) (El Salvador)
- 2008 – present: It's not just fast food; it's fresh food, made fast (Malaysia)
- 2008 – present: Old Fashion Hamburgers (Dominican Republic)
- 2009 – present: "Wendy's, sabor al cuadrado" (Wendy's, taste to the square) (Mexico)
- 2009 – present: Es muuuuucho más que comida rápida, es Wendy's (It's waaaaay more than fast food, it's Wendy's.) (El Salvador)