Roller Food

When it comes to fast food restaurants, there are a few clear truths: McDonald’s has the best fries. Bojangles has the best chicken biscuit. Cookout is a gift from the heavens to residents of North Carolina (and ever-expanding surrounding areas). Burger King is the wackiest, giving us one of the creepiest mascots to ever grace the television screen and the subservient chicken. Taco Bell is best consumed late at night. But what do we know about Wendy’s? They have the squarest burgers? “Fresh, never frozen?” When I think of Wendy’s, I think of Dave Thomas, the benevolent grandfather of fast food. He focused on helping orphans find good homes as much as he focused on making reasonable fast food. (Honesty time: I’m not the biggest fan of Wendy’s food: the burgers aren’t mustard-y enough for me, and the only sandwich I ever loved, the Bacon Mushroom Melt, was doused in liquid cheese, mushrooms and bacon and was, thankfully for my arteries, only there for a limited time.) Regardless of how I feel about the quality of Dave’s food, one thing was sure … he had a heart for kids, and that was awesome.

Now, Dave passed away in 2002. And since then, Wendy’s commercials have lacked that heart that I remember them having as a kid. They got it back for families by having the restaurant’s namesake, Melinda “Wendy” Morse, take her Dad’s place in the ads. She did a perfectly acceptable job, but I’m guessing the response with young men wasn’t great, because it wasn’t too long before they added Morgan Smith Goodwin to the equation. I’m not sure who exactly she is supposed to be (Wendy 2.0? Wendy’s hot, young niece? Thief of Wendy’s identity?), but what we do know is this: she’s a red head, and she LOVES making people eat at Wendy’s. She interrupts a stream of movie-spoilers to make her friends(?) go to Wendy’s. She convinces two guys to buy a chair and eat Baconators. And in the latest commercial, she keeps a guy from eating a gas station hot dog, repeatedly referred to as “Roller Food.”

The goal of these commercials is to reach those 20-something males who eat fast food. And, it’s clearly working. When I tried to figure out the ad agency behind the commercials, every other search engine result was “The red head in the Wendy’s commercial is HOT” (And by the way, Kaplan Thaler is behind the ad). BUT…What is roller food? Has anyone heard this term before? I did some searching, and I could not find another use of “roller food” used in this context. And, I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s a needless title, after all, the only roller food is hot dogs, so most people would just say hot dogs. Maybe they didn’t want to upset the hot dog industry or make it seem like they were targeting gas stations … but it’s still weird.

In fact, most of these ads feel as if they exist in a parallel universe. One where a guy who ruins the end to every movie ever is rewarded by driving his friend’s car and eating Wendy’s. (I don’t know about you, but I love the thrill of driving someone else’s car). One where a mysterious stranger convinces you to buy a chair by imagining a burger. A universe where hot dogs are called roller food, and where young men are stalked by a specter that coerces them into eating burgers. Yeah, she’s not so hot now, is she?

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One Comment on “Roller Food”

  1. cmxstevenson says:

    In Indiana at least, there’s more than hot dogs on the rollers. Some kind of Mexican tortilla-wrapped thing is the most common alternative. I watch the roller food rolling – in many cases not rolling – at the gas station with a morbid curiosity. I can’t imagine eating it.


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