Why is Wendy's killing the pretzel bun?

The company nixes one of its most popular promotions in favor of brioche -- a bread so unfamiliar to Americans that the chain made an ad showing how to pronounce it.

By InvestorPlace Nov 27, 2013 12:39PM

Wendy's Co. sign outside of a restaurant in Daly City, Calif. (© David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)By William White

Wendy's (WEN) has given its pretzel bun -- one of the fast-food chain's best-selling, limited-time offers -- the axe.

Wendy's placed a lot of hype around its pretzel bun sandwiches following their July launch, and even extended the offer to its chicken sandwiches after its initial promotion ended. So why is the chain killing off one of its best products?

According to Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch, the chain is nixing the pretzel bun because adding more items means adding more inventory, Businessweek reports. And Wendy's newest item apparently is so important that it warranted offing the pretzel bun.

That new item? A brioche bun.

For those unfamiliar with the brioche -- and given Wendy's commercial dedicated solely to nailing down the pronunciation, it's likely there are a few of us -- Baking Bites breaks it down:

"Brioche is a type of bread that comes up often in recipes, particularly recipes for bread pudding and french toast where you might want to add some extra richness to the finished product. But what sets brioche apart from, say, regular sandwich bread? Brioche is an enriched French bread, meaning that the dough contains a high proportion of fat in it."

But is a brioche really worth ending one of the chain's best promotions? Well, maybe, maybe not, but the question assumes the curtain has permanently fallen on the pretzel bun, and that might not be the case.

It's entirely possible that Wendy's is giving its pretzel bun the same treatment that McDonald's (MCD) gives its McRib: a limited appearance at least once a year. Fast-food promotions like the McRib, Shamrock Shake and others usually provide short bursts of renewed interest in the rest of a chain's offerings as well. So while it might not make sense to have pretzel buns around all year, Wendy's could benefit from an annual cameo.

Even if that always leaves us wanting more.

More From InvestorPlace

Nov 27, 2013 2:59PM
Never understood the pretzel bun thing anyway. When I get a cheeseburger, I am focused on the cheeseburger, not a hard, chewy over-done salted bun.  Bleh!
Nov 27, 2013 2:44PM
I tried the pretzel bun ONCE.  Nasty.  Good move on their part.
Nov 27, 2013 3:13PM
The pretzel bun sucked, too much dough. Yuck
Nov 27, 2013 3:59PM

Why are companies always trying to fix something that isn't broken ? Regular buns have worked for years , leave it alone . All this research and testing for "new improved" items just ends up driving up prices .


Nov 27, 2013 4:51PM
That's too bad, I liked the pretzel bun. But I'm just wondering how switching to a brioche bun relieves the need for added inventory? I think what it really means is that the pretzel bun was too expensive, and they can get the brioche for less...
Nov 27, 2013 3:42PM
Nov 27, 2013 1:12PM
Fast food is still contending with the $5 lunch meal barrier. That extra inventory for items that cost more than $5 and as such are viewed as luxuries by under-paid America... go bad. I think Wendy's does an excellent job all around and will continue to do so, even when good decisions seem bad on the surface. 
Nov 27, 2013 4:01PM
So wait...in this day of "let's eat healthier" and "the obesity problem," Wendy's is adding yet more fat to their menu??? How does this make sense?
Nov 27, 2013 3:12PM
I never tried the pretzel bun. Sounds good. Different. The Brioche on the other hand sounds not so good. Too rich. I don't do fast food very often, but was going to try the pretzel bun. Oh well. too late.
Nov 27, 2013 3:10PM
the pretzel bun ruins a decent hamburger. regular buns are best. if I want a pretzel i'll buy one. the soft pretzel is way better than the lousy Wendy's bun
Nov 27, 2013 4:03PM
Have no desire to try a pretzel bun! Sounded dry and gross. How about just putting out a good old hamburger cooked on a grill. Keep it simple and good! Like in the early 60's, bowling alley burgers were the best. 
Nov 27, 2013 5:55PM
Had the Brioche and Port Mushroom Sandwich last night..... Sucked.
Wife had the Pretzel Bun Cheeseburger...... Fantastic!
I think this is a stupid move. 
Nov 27, 2013 4:55PM
Don't know why Wendy's changed their original burger. New on taste like shlt.why do people mess whith something that works?
Nov 27, 2013 5:26PM

In Milan we bumped into a café that served HUGE pretzels -- salt and all, just like the ones you can get at the entrance to the NY metropolitan museum of Art, only bigger -- which they would slice in half and stuff with prosciutto, mustard, and 'you name it.'

Wendy's take note!!!  It was delicious!!!

Nov 27, 2013 6:34PM
Now I'm really confused about Wendy's logic.  Axe the pretzel bun because it added too much inventory.  But it's okay to bring out another product (brioche bun).  Won't that add inventory too?
Nov 28, 2013 1:08PM
They need to kill those nasty bread & butter pickles that they ruined their burgers with. Have not been to back Wendy's since.
Nov 28, 2013 7:01AM
Here in Milwaukee we've had TRUE pretzel buns for YEARS. Several local bakeries make them. A real pretzel bun is delicious. The Wendy's pretzel bun is nowhere near as good. There's nothing better than a grilled bratwurst on a pretzel bun with sauerkraut and onions, maybe a little german brown mustard. Damn, all of a sudden I'm hungry...
Nov 28, 2013 10:10AM
I tried their Pretzel bun sandwich and did not care for it. I would bet a lot of other customers did not like it either that is why it is going a way.
Nov 27, 2013 2:44PM
Nov 27, 2013 5:23PM
We had watched the tv ad the same day we went to finally see what all the hubbub was about: Wendy's discontinued it!
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