Using ghost peppers as a selling point are all well and good — but I'm sure I'm not the only person who has wondered whether Wendy's Ghost Pepper Fries have actual ghost peppers in them. Sure, we know that there's some sort of mysterious “ghost pepper sauce” on both the fries and the Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich; but what does that mean, exactly? Are we talking diced fresh ghost peppers? Dried ghost peppers? Essence of ghost pepper? I did a little digging to find out, because once these sorts of random questions pop into my head, I can't rest until I know the answers. Yes, I'm a little weird; why do you ask?
Happily, the nutrition information section of Wendy's website is remarkably easy to navigate. If I sound surprised by this fact, it's because finding nutritional information for chain restaurant foods is often a lot more difficult than it probably should be — and it's usually even more difficult to find if the item in question is a limited-edition offering. Remember how tough a time I had finding out whether the Starbucks Birthday Cake Frappuccino was caffeinated? It was largely because the 'Bux didn't add a listing for it to its online menu. I realize that adding a whole new thing to your website for a menu item that will only be around for five days is a ridiculously impractical thing to do… but it still made the whole quest a lot more epic than I feel like it really needed to be.
Yeah. That kind of epic.
Anyway, though, the point is this: A complete ingredients list, as well as ingredients lists for all those ingredients' components, is available for both the Ghost Pepper Fries and the Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich on Wendy's website. For the curious, here's what's in the Ghost Pepper Fries:
Small French fries, cheddar cheese sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, ghost pepper sauce, and diced jalapenos.
And here's what's in the Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich:
Colby pepper jack cheese, spicy chicken breast, cheddar cheese sauce, ghost pepper sauce, red onion, diced jalapenos, and a jalapeno cheddar bun.
Obviously what we're interested in here is the ghost pepper sauce, so let's take a closer look at that component. Not going to lie — the list is kind of long. But on top of including the sorts of things you'd expect in a creamy, yet spicy sauce — buttermilk, actual jalapeno peppers, vinegar, cilantro, paprika, garlic, and so on — guess what else is on it? Way down towards the bottom, we have this: “Ghost pepper (dehydrated).”
I would imagine dehydrated ghost peppers are kind of like the ghost pepper equivalent of the crushed red chillis I like to sprinkle on top of my pizza — and hey, guess what? It turns out dehydrated peppers is actually pretty easy to do on your own. A simple Google search for “how to dehydrated peppers” brings up a whole slew of useful guides, so if you ever wanted to try making your own ghost pepper sauce, the Internet has you covered. Good to know, right?
Of course, what we don't know is exactly how much dehydrated ghost pepper is in Wendy's ghost pepper sauce. Given that A) the FDA guidelines for food labeling states that “listing ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight means that the ingredient that weighs the mot is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last,” and B) “ghost pepper (dehydrated)” is the fourth-to-last ingredient on a 20-item list, I think it's pretty safe to say that it's not a whole lot. Then again, though, you don't really need a lot of ghost pepper to get a kick from it; after all, it scores about one million on the Scoville scale (jalapenos, meanwhile, only score a measly 2,500 to 8,000).
Although I failed to track down Wendy's ghost pepper offerings over the weekend, I'm going to try again tonight; now that they've been officially released nationwide, I should have an easier time of it. I'll be sure to report back about how spicy they actually are. Wish me luck!