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Cravings Fast Food Features

How Pepperoni Became The Most Iconic Pizza Topping

The doorbell rings and you scramble to find your pants before greeting the pizza delivery guy. As you fumble for your wallet, you can already smell the heavenly aroma of your cheesy pepperoni-topped pizza.

Why pepperoni?

There are dozens of different things pizza lovers can top their pies with, anchovies being our top pick. Have you every wondered, though, why pepperoni is such an iconic topping that it’s featured in practically every reference to the Italian dish here in American culture?

According to the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, pepperoni was popularized when it arrived in America with Italian immigrants.

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In the 1900s, pizzerias in New York found that customers would enjoy the combination of pepperoni and cheese the most. The two ingredients went together like lamb and tuna fish.

Cured salami was a mixture of meat and fat that was finely chopped and mixed with peppers and spices. Rolled into a pig casing, the pepperoni was air dried for up to ten months at a time before it was ready for consumption.

Over the last century, advances in science found ways to cheat the months-long pepperoni curing process to produce the meat in a matter of hours. This allowed companies to mass produce the popular topping to meet the demands of pepperoni-loving Americans.

Pepperoni consequently became so popular that brands would make “healthier” variations for customers to buy made from both turkey and soy.

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Fast forward a century later and pepperoni is still the veritable champ of pizza toppings, reigning over nearly every pizza topping list. It could be a millennia before another ingredient comes along to claim that title, but today, pepperoni remains the people’s choice.

After anchovies, of course.

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Fast Food Hit-Or-Miss News

How The Wendy’s Baked Potato Became A $100 Million Item

With a successful 48-year history, Wendy’s has clearly become a fast food icon. However, some may not realize Wendy’s is the only fast food joint that sells a baked potato. Thanks to the success of this classic item over the years, the Wendy’s baked potato may just be the best deal in fast food.

The concept of the baked potato is simple, but according to Thrillist, the process of getting this steamy side item into stores and onto the plates of customers is a “logistical nightmare,” and that’s where Wendy’s is cashing in.

While potatoes have a very traditional role inside the fast food industry, most potatoes quickly shed their natural state after being cut and fried. Case in point, a plain Wendy’s baked potato weighs 11.5 ounces and is about 270 calories.

Even when cheese and bacon bits are added, it’s only 480 calories. Compared to a 320-calorie small order of fries, Wendy’s baked potato is clearly superior in terms of serving size, while being a slightly healthier alternative.

wendy's baked potato

Still, there’s no easy way to go about cooking a baked potato. However, Wendy’s has innovated, bringing in new convection ovens to handle, “1 million potatoes per week,” according to a Wendy’s spokesperson.

According to Lori Estrada, Wendy’s VP of Culinary Innovation, being able to find a solution for this time-consuming challenge in a fast-food industry built on convenience and speed is where Wendy’s has capitalized the most.

With the cost of a plain baked potato between $1.89 and $1.99 before tax, multiplied by the number of units sold — 1 million potatoes per week, or 52 million a year — it can be estimated that Wendy’s baked potatoes bring in $2 million per week. That’s about $100 million annually.

wendy's baked potato

“It’s a challenge, operationally, to be able to serve them and have them ready for every customer who comes through our doors,” Estrada divulged. “I can only guess that aspect has made it hard for other places to be willing to put something like this into production.”

Considering the endless possibilities of baked potato modification, which Estrada said can be customized with, “anything we top our fries or burgers with,” Wendy’s baked potato is a beacon of creativity, sustenance and truly one of the most over-looked menu items in fast food.