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Why Did Wendy's Discontinue Its 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich?

Wendy's bag being next to cup and employee
Wendy's bag being next to cup and employee - Bloomberg/Getty Images

Wendy's still has plenty of chicken sandwich options on its menu, but back in the mid-aughts, you could also order something called a 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich. This menu item featured four layers of spice, including a spicy chicken filet, pepper jack cheese, chipotle sauce, and sliced jalapeño, along with lettuce and tomatoes. Though the sandwich was only available for about a month, people were still tweeting about how much they missed it over 15 years later.

Given how popular the 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich was — at least according to collective memory — it might seem odd that Wendy's would decide to discontinue it. But the truth is that Wendy's was never planning to add the sandwich to the permanent menu to begin with. According to the original press release published in 2007, the 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich was a limited-time offering that was only supposed to be available from early March to mid-April of that year. Technically it wasn't discontinued, it just became unavailable after its planned release.

Read more: The Ultimate Ranking Of The Best Fried Chicken Chains

Why Wendy's Never Added The 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich To Its Menu

Wendy's Jalapeño Fresco Chicken Sandwich
Wendy's Jalapeño Fresco Chicken Sandwich - revciancio / Instagram

Even though the disappearance of the 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich left many Wendy's customers disappointed, the fast food chain never added it to the permanent menu. In 2016 however, Wendy's did release a very similar Jalapeño Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Like the original from 2007, this sandwich had jalapeños, but instead pickled slices, the peppers were diced raw with the seeds left in for extra heat. Although their buns were different (the 4-Alarm had a ciabatta-like "artisan bread" roll, while the Jalapeño Fresco's bun was infused with red chile peppers), both sandwiches featured pepper jack cheese and a chicken patty, though the newer rendition traded chipotle sauce for a hotter ghost pepper sauce. Despite how well-received the 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich was, the Jalapeño Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich was once again only available for a limited time. A commercial for the latter sandwich reposted to YouTube may provide some insight as to why this was the case.


"Focus groups said nobody will want a sandwich this spicy, but focus groups have been wrong before," the voiceover in the ad states, "So Wendy's thanked them, and launched it anyway." If there's truth in that statement, it means that a sandwich with that many spicy ingredients only catered to a handful of Wendy's customers. It makes sense therefore that the fast food chain would decide against making either sandwich a permanent fixture on the menu.

Will Wendy's Ever Bring Back Its 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich?

Handing Wendy's bag to customer at drive-thru
Handing Wendy's bag to customer at drive-thru - Bloomberg/Getty Images

It isn't exactly unreasonable for customers to hold out hope that Wendy's will bring back the 4-Alarm Spicy Chicken Sandwich, because Wendy's does have a history of bringing back discontinued menu items. In the past, favorites like the Spicy Chicken Nuggets and the Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger have made a comeback. And more recently, the chain also reintroduced the Strawberry Frosty for a limited time.

When it comes to chicken sandwiches however, Wendy's seems to be more interested in experimenting with new flavors rather than bringing back old ones. Alongside the variety of chicken sandwiches that are already on the menu, Wendy's frequently introduces limited time offerings, such as the Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich and the Ghost Pepper Ranch Chicken Sandwich. A revamp of the 2007 sandwich could always be in the cards, but it appears Wendy's may have already moved on with other fresh and exciting options.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.