upr-header-1.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Thank you for your support this fall! We are still working to meet our overall goal. Help us get there by donating now!

Wendy's 'Biggie' Portion Gone in Name Only

What was once known as a 'biggie' drink at Wendy's is now just a 'medium.' Soft drinks now come in small, medium and large sizes only. The 42-ounce large is equal to three-and-a-half cans of soda.
Scott Horsley, NPR
/
What was once known as a 'biggie' drink at Wendy's is now just a 'medium.' Soft drinks now come in small, medium and large sizes only. The 42-ounce large is equal to three-and-a-half cans of soda.

Wendy's french fries will soon be getting healthier. One of the nation's largest burger chains is switching to a new kind of cooking oil that will sharply reduce harmful trans fats, a move that nutritionists applaud.

The chain also is doing away with its "biggie" and "great biggie" portion names. But that doesn't mean sizes are getting smaller. A medium drink is 32 ounces and the large tops out at 42 ounces. Wendy's calls it a "river of icy-cold refreshment." Critics say it's a setback in the battle against obesity.

NYU professor Lisa Young, who wrote the book The Portion Teller, warns that Wendy's subtle name change may encourage customers to eat and drink more than they should.

"When something is called 'biggie,' you know that it's big and maybe you shouldn't finish it," she says. "[T]hat's a quart of soda for one person. My worry is that calling it 'medium' gives people the illusion they can drink without guilt."

Even a "small" soft drink at Wendy's is now 20 ounces. That's 25 percent bigger than before the name change.

Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini says the company is trying to give customers "lots of choices," including bottled water instead of soft drinks and yogurt in lieu of french fries.

As for the new 42-ounce soda, with up to 100 more calories than the old '"biggie," he says it's not really intended to be drunk in a single sitting, but rather consumed throughout the day.

Indeed, the 42-ounce bucket has a tapered base, designed to fit into a car's cup holder.

But Young, the NYU professor, notes that even cup holders have been getting bigger, along with restaurant serving sizes and American waistlines.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.