Nauseating: The Wendy’s charity that left a bad taste in my mouth

I was exhausted, foodless and starving yesterday so I went to Wendy’s for lunch. Don’t judge. When waiting in line, I saw large signs about salads with glamorized lettuce which is clearly in response to all the flack fast food chains get about the horrible food they serve us. Fair enough. The detail that shocked me most was this. A sign attached to the register that read something like, “Help us fight diabetes. Get 4 small Frosties when you donate $ to our diabetes fund.” To top it off, the image accompanying their plea was of a young, smiling boy.


Wait, in order to help this nameless, grinning boy with diabetes, we should buy ourselves— or potentially other children— ice cream?

Well done marketing team. You’ve found a way to remind the consumer how bad this food is for their body just before they order it. You’ve found a way to remind us how fast food chains like Wendy’s is literally feeding an American epidemic of child obesity. Or general obesity for that matter.

I guess in some ways, the fact that companies are now almost mandated to care about the people they serve is a good thing. Sure, Wendy’s money would be dripping with sugarized insincerity, but the money would still be helping people. And to be fair, Wendy’s official charity focuses on adoption, which is far more authentic since it speaks to its founder’s own experience.

I would love to see companies take a hard look at their consumers and better select charities that could help them. Wendy’s, how about focusing on food aid charities to help deliver routine, balanced meals to people?

That would be sweet indeed, and not diabetes-inducing.


6 Comments on “Nauseating: The Wendy’s charity that left a bad taste in my mouth”

  1. Jenny says:

    Why is it a bad idea? The only problem i can see is people with very little knowledge of diabetes mocking it. It might get people asking question about jdrf and dispelling a few myths about type 1 diabetes . You do know that the wendys charity is for Type 1 diabetes an autoimune disorder that is not caused by poor diet. Just had to point this out as the media coverage of diabetes on the whole is pitifull, focusing mainly on overweight type 2 diabetics. It would have been nice if you had found more out about the charity before writing this article. Then made your point.

  2. kellystonebock says:

    Hi Jenny. First, I want to thank you for your comment. You make a lot of really good points. I was glib about my treatment of diabetes in this post and admittedly went for the cheap laugh with the last line. For that, I apologize.

    Please don’t think I was mocking diabetes. That was in no way my intention. I have both an aunt and a close friend who have diabetes- I’m not laughing at it and I do know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2.

    My issue is this- even if Wendy’s is supporting Type 1, they can’t ignore their possible relation to Type 2. Their menu choices impact people’s health. The frosties they’re selling to raise money for diabetes has 41 grams of sugar which is the equivalent of 10.25 teaspoons. That’s just plain unhealthy and I feel it’s an inappropriate way for them to show their support.

    Again, thanks for your comment. You’re right- the media hasn’t been fair in their coverage. You were right to speak up.

  3. kellystonebock says:

    More coverage of this same thing- I’m glad people are talking about it.

  4. @Kelly, great post. My husband had the same reaction when he stopped in to Wendy’s the other day. Ohhh, the irony. I have been reading your recent posts and you’re a great writer. Thanks for keeping me entertained!

    @Jenny, while I appreciate your concern with clarifying between the two, your comment could have been less critical of Kelly’s post, maybe just pointing out the difference between the types would have been more well-received. In Kelly’s defense, she handled her response well.

    I urge you to re-think your tone. While I can tell you have a general frustration over the misconceptions, I believe you were unnecessarily critical. Kelly’s right, there is an inevitable relation between the two types of diabetes. More importantly, while diet isn’t the suspected CAUSE of type 1 diabetes, it is a critical element in the management of the disease, and Wendy’s Frosties are not exactly a type 1 diabetics friend.

    Kelly, thanks again for the great blogging.

    Heather | @HeatherJStrout

  5. kellystonebock says:

    Thanks Heather! I was wondering if anyone else was seeing these ads too. They’re relatively small but certainly stood out to me.

    • Brian says:

      I am a type-1 diabetic. Thought I should say that right off the bat to establish that I own this issue. It’s mine. Step away and let the professional handle this.

      Everybody made good points. It irks me that nobody seems to appreciate the difference between type-2 and type-1 diabetes. To a diabetic (and a biologist–I own the hell out of this issue) the difference is profound. These differences were succinctly put forth by Jenny in an acceptable fashion.

      It is perhaps ironic that people who donate to type-1 diabetes research are gifted with an abundance of sugary treats that are both (1) bad for type-1 diabetics sugar-control and (2) symbolic of a life-style that leads to a different condition with the same name. However, frankly, if you asked me whether Wendy’s should raise money for diabetes by handing out four Wendy’s Mediterranean Salads per donation, or four delicious yet small frosty abandons, I prefer the later.
      Even in this world of wanton ill-health and health-consciousness, it is appropriate to occasionally ply children with small frosties without the sudden onset of type-2 diabetes of metabolic shock. It is even—gasp—not unthinkable for a diabetic child to have a sugary treat.

      The diabetes donation is the silver-lining on a unhealthy treat. The real issue—with reducing (but not eliminating) type-2 diabetes, other obesity related disorders, and maintaining level blood sugar readings in type-1 diabetics—is personal discipline.

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