French toast sticks are not only my favorite frozen grocery item, they have also always been a reason to seek out Burger King at breakfast time. I was excited to hear that Wendy’s has introduced its own version of these sweet, fried sticks of wonder—its first major addition to the breakfast menu since rolling it out in early 2020. Since Burger King already has already achieved virtual French toast stick perfection, it seems only right to compare Wendy’s new offering to its longstanding competitor in a side-by-side taste test.
I went to the Wendy’s drive-thru first. My six-year-old was with me, and as soon as the Wendy’s sticks entered the car she started remarking about their aroma—which, I’ll agree with her, was not great. They smelled like they had been fried in state fair oil. I’m using “state fair oil” here as a criticism, which I clarify because I’d understand if you thought that was a compliment. Mixed with the summer breeze and a jubilant atmosphere, the smell of fried foods at a state fair is lovely. Inside my car, the effect was less pleasurable.
When the Burger King sticks entered the car a few minutes later, my daughter gleefully said, “Now it smells like Dunkin’ Donuts in here.” In other words, the Burger King product smelled good. In the odor category, Burger King is the clear winner.
Let’s talk about appearances. Although Burger King’s French Toast Sticks, upon careful inspection, could be charitably compared to pieces of bread sliced into strips, the link between this product and real bread is tenuous at best. Just like the ones I ate in school and the ones I buy from the freezer section at the grocery store, Burger King’s French Toast Sticks are a food unto themselves. They aren’t French toast cut into sticks. They’re French toast sticks.
The Wendy’s product, on the other hand, did look like genuine slices of French toast cut into segments and dropped into a fryer. These Homestyle French Toast Sticks are clearly identifiable as bread, complete with a mottled eggy mixture coating the exterior, which you see on French toast that hasn’t been soaked quite long enough.
Burger King’s version had a much lighter appearance than Wendy’s. I didn’t figure out why. Maybe it’s that state fair oil Wendy’s is working with. When it comes to appearance, I don’t know if I would necessarily pick a winner here; it might depend on your priorities. How much are you trying to convince yourself you’re eating “real” French toast?
On their own, neither stick is arrestingly sweet, but I would say Burger King’s has more sweetness to it than Wendy’s. Dipped in syrup, Burger King’s is clearly a sweet treat. Though logic tells me there’s egg involved, it is not evident in the flavor profile at all.
The most surprising thing to me about Wendy’s Homestyle French Toast Sticks was that they do taste eggy. Very eggy, in fact. Without syrup, you might even be able to trick yourself into thinking you’re eating something protein-filled for breakfast.
Personally, I prefer the sweeter, we’re-not-fooling-anyone Burger King version. I ate these with my mom, though, who is notorious for not liking sweet things, especially at breakfast, and she preferred the Wendy’s version, declaring the Homestyle sticks more “authentic.” My daughter, who is six and doesn’t like syrup, also preferred the flavor of the Wendy’s sticks.
Texturally, I found both versions to be pretty soft, with a little crunch at the end. I suspect this is a matter of how long they’re in the fryer and your experience may vary depending on who’s cooking your sticks. For what it’s worth, Wendy’s sticks are already pretty dark in color—I’m not sure more time in the fryer would benefit them in that sense.
Wendy’s offering is more expensive. In my area, it cost $3.99 for six sticks, compared to $2.29 for five sticks at Burger King, a unit cost of 66 cents versus 46 cents per stick.
I declare Burger King the winner. It’s great that Wendy’s is offering French toast sticks now, especially if I’m on the road with my kids and need an easy car breakfast they’ll enjoy. In terms of cost and overall sensory experience (smell + taste), BK already has its game on lock, and I don’t think Wendy’s provided something amazing enough to topple the King. Yet my mom and daughter did prefer the eggier, slightly more muted Wendy’s sticks, so for their kindred spirits out there, know that this new breakfast item is worth a try. Just be prepared for your car to smell like a state fair. In a bad way.