News Column

Wendy's Frosty-Guzzling Employee Fired over Photo

June 15, 2013
wendy's, frosty photo, employee eating

Wendy's has joined the rapidly growing list of fast-food chains (related: 'Taco Bell Licker') victimized by employees who have posted gross-out photos online.

A photo, posted on Wednesday on content-sharing site Reddit, shows an employee on his knees so that he can eat a stream of vanilla Frosty directly from a machine. The Wendy's photo quickly went viral and has been seen by thousands.

"It was an incident that occurred in May," spokesman Bob Bertini said. "We don't know the exact date. It was totally unacceptable behavior from the crew person. He broke the rules, and he's no longer at that restaurant."

Wendy's would not disclose the location of the restaurant or the identity of the fired employee.

"We continue to investigate," Bertini said. "Our customers are important to us, and we work hard to reinforce our procedures every day."

Consumers likely won't hold the employee's "goofy or stupid" behavior against Wendy's, said Ron Paul, president of Technomic Inc., a Chicago restaurant- and food-research firm.

"People are not going to take it very seriously," Paul said. "In the grand scheme of X number of thousands of restaurants, it's pretty insignificant. I think people just accept that there are goofy employees and aren't going to penalize the chain to any measurable extent. It would be different if it were an E. coli breakout."

The Frosty incident comes as Wendy's prepares for its seventh annual Wendy's Father's Day Frosty Weekend.

Today and Sunday, participating Wendy's restaurants will donate 50 cents from the sale of every Frosty product to support national adoption efforts.

The chain also added a waffle cone option for the dessert.The photo isn't the first time that Wendy's has been hit by a less-than-pleasant story involving its food.

In 2005, Wendy's was struck by a hoax involving a human finger placed in a bowl of chili. The woman behind the hoax, Anna Ayala, served four years in prison.

Over the past year, various fast-food companies have been hit with viral photos of employees performing similarly unhygienic behavior.

A Taco Bell employee licked a pile of taco shells. At KFC, an employee was seen licking a pile of mashed potatoes in a photo. A Burger King employee posed standing in two containers of lettuce, and another took a bath in a utility sink.

tferan@dispatch.com

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