Make Wednesday Wendy’s Day

Discussion
Apr 26, 2005
George Anderson

Editorial by George Anderson


Now that Anna Ayala’s litigious history has been revealed, and she has been arrested and charged with attempted grand larceny, Wendy’s may finally be able to put the finger found in the chili episode behind it.


When the news initially broke of a woman finding a finger in her chili at a Wendy’s in San Jose, Cal., sales fell off as much as 50 percent in some locations. The company started its own internal investigation and offered $100,000 in reward money to anyone who could identify to whom the finger belonged.


It’s clear the restaurant chain founded by Dave Thomas was the victim here, which is why we are declaring Wednesday, April 27, 2005 “Eat at Wendy’s Day.” We think we’ll order the chili.


Moderator’s Comment: What do you think of Wendy’s reaction to the finger found in the chili case? What lessons are there here for other companies publicly
dealing with crisis situations?

George Anderson – Moderator

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10 Comments on "Make Wednesday Wendy’s Day"


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Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 10 months ago

Not to point fingers, but I disagree with James. If the scare was about bad meat or some specific ingredient in the chili, pull it from the menu. But I don’t think people were making a rational decision to not eat chili because a finger was found in it. Body parts tend to drop into whatever you cut them off over: chili, hamburger, or salad bar fixin’s included.

What Wendy’s did do here in the Bay Area was offer a free Junior Frosty, and that did seem to help get people over their irrational fears and into the restaurants.

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Wendy’s clearly has been unfairly victimized by this incident. But it could have done itself a bit of good by announcing one decisive action: Remove chili from its menu nationwide pending investigation.

The message to consumers would have been clear: Your health and safety come first – even if the charge is baseless or invented.

Wendy’s will now have to work hard to regain its credibility even though the incident appears to have been engineered by a despicable individual. They should have taken a page from the old Tylenol incident – even when it’s not your fault, you protect your customer at all costs.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 10 months ago

Wendy’s definitely was the victim here. I have read comments where people feel that they did not react as strongly or quickly as they should have. It is very easy to be a “Monday morning quarterback” and criticize, but it had to have been extremely difficult to know a better course of action for them. I hope the media publicizes this lady’s punishment as strongly as they did the original news about it. It will be hard for many to forget all the bad jokes by Leno and Letterman, but hopefully most will remember that it was all a bad hoax.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Rick is right. As far as how they responded, they did everything they could, starting with not panicking and conducting a thorough investigation. Now, the challenge will be that people will remember the hype and the Leno jokes about finger food longer than they will remember the truth of the extortion attempt.

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

I think most of us feel terribly for Wendy’s. This is like PR terrorism. The damage has been done and, despite Wendy’s innocence, the thoughts will linger in consumers’ minds. The best thing the company can do is try to divert attention with some fun, exciting promotions that have absolutely nothing to do with chili. (And alert human resources to carefully screen any new job applicants with missing digits ; )

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
15 years 10 months ago

I think Wendy’s reaction wasn’t such a drastic measure. It’s not like they had to pull millions of dollars of product off the shelves (Tylenol) or recall several hundred thousand vehicles (which would cost more). They just did some good old fashioned detective work and uncovered the fraud.

As far as an eat at Wendy’s day is concerned, um why? If they were going to offer a free side of chili with every order to show that it is still really good, now that’s marketing (they could even include those candy rings as a bonus prize)!

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Here I go again, picking up on something that obviously doesn’t bother anyone else on the planet. The finger was investigated forensically to find out if it could possibly have been cooked for 5 hours (or more, was it?) at hundreds of degrees. That would certainly put me off eating Wendy’s chilli if nothing else did.

George Anderson
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Bernice – I believe it has been definitively determined that the finger did not end up in the chili because of anything related to Wendy’s or its employees.

George Anderson
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Had a bowl of the chili today. It doesn’t measure up to Doc Banks’ chili dog recipe but it was pretty good nonetheless. Enjoyed the fruit bowl with yogurt too. ;o)

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Sorry, George, I obviously didn’t make myself clear. I am aware that the finger was not cooked in the chilli but was exclaiming at the intensity of the process the food goes through which, in my opinion, would render it not particularly pleasant to eat.

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