Novelty foods come in many flavors. Some are exceptionally large…testing the limits of the average human stomach. Some mash-up two or three ingredients that have never been (and perhaps, should never have been) blended before…bacon-wrapped Oreo’s come to mind. And some like it hot…spicy, that is…an approach Wendy’s has taken recently to rope in curious customers looking for a bit more burn than your average fast food restaurant is able to provide. Enter Wendy’s new “Ghost Pepper Fries” …the latest arrival at Dave Thomas’s bastille of burgers.
I’ll admit up front…Wendy’s fries are among my favorite of all the national fast-food chains. When they converted to their “natural cut” fries in 2011, I was skeptical. But I must admit, it was a big improvement…and in a pinch, a bag full of hot Wendy’s fries makes for an excellent snack.
The thought of adding ghost peppers to any food item marketed to the general public was, admittedly, a bit alarming. Ghost peppers were once crowned the hottest pepper in existence, that is until it was overtaken by the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012. Regardless of where it ranks today, it clocks in at over 1 million Scoville heat units (for comparison, a jalapeño only musters up around two to ten thousand Scoville units). In other words, it’s spicy…and would likely leave the average eater in tears. Not something you’d expect Wendy’s to be throwing on their fries without requiring diners to sign a wavier first.
In reality, the Wendy’s folks play it safe in regards to the ghost peppers. They use a orange creamy sauce that’s really only faintly flavored by ghost peppers…there are no raw ghost peppers added to the dish. This sauce is accompanied by two types of cheese — shredded cheddar and a gooey cheese sauce, both of which dampen the heat of the pepper sauce even further. Finally, some raw chopped jalapeño join the party, perhaps the most noticeably spicy addition in the dish.
While it’s not nearly as spicy as one might anticipate, the ghost pepper fries are not entirely tame. And honestly, the flavor’s not bad at all. I topped mine with a few squirts of ketchup, which helped complement the salt and spice well. I suspect this item won’t be on the menu forever, and it’s probably worth trying while it is. In other words, get it while it’s (sorta) hot.