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When Will Wendy's Strawberry Frosty Leave Its Menu (Welcome Back Vanilla)

The fast-food favorite is only being sold for a limited time.

Fast-food chains have only so much capacity for new menu items. When you only have a few fryers, one grill, and limited preparation space, choices have to be made.

That's why McDonald's (MCD) franchisees pushed back at the chain's efforts to offer all-day breakfast. Customers may want it, but adding it complicates food preparation as there's simply only so much space in each restaurant's kitchen.

It's this problem that explains when many fast-food limited-time-offers use a new ingredient or two on an old favorite. If Yum! Brands (YUM) Taco Bell adds a new queso to its menu, that cheesy sauce will likely be added to a few menu items to make them "new," so they can be promoted while the impact on preparation is minimal.

All restaurants have space constraints and in the case of Wendy's (WEN) it has limits on how it produces one of its most popular items. That forces the chain to make some tough choices that will delight some customers while making others a little bit sad.

Wendy's Strawberry Frosty Lead KL

In late May, Wendy's added the Strawberry Frosty to its menu. To do that, the chain had to get rid of the Vanilla Frosty because most Wendy's locations only have two Frosty machines.

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This is a relatively new problem for Wendy's because for most of its existence, from 1969 through 2006 it only sold Chocolate Frostys. The chain added vanilla to the mix in 2006 and if it wants to offer a new flavor, it has to cycle out either chocolate or vanilla.

When strawberry was added, the chain called it a summer menu offering but was not specific as to when it would go away. Now, a Wendy's spokesperson gave a little more clarity to TheStreet in response to an email asking when the Strawberry Frosty would go away and when the Chocolate Frosty would return.

"Strawberry frosty will be rolling off at the end of summer or until supplies last," the company responded.

Wendy's Frosty Works a Lot Like Starbucks Special Drinks

In not having an exact timeline. Wendy's is following a model that's similar to what Starbucks (SBUX) does with its seasonal drinks. When, for example, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) comes out in late summer/early fall stores get a supply of the ingredients. There's then a period where those supplies can be replenished and then at some point the central supply has been exhausted and the drink goes away when each individual location can no longer make it.

That's why one Starbucks in your town may run out of one of your seasonal favorites while another may still have it in stock. And, now, if you love the Strawberry Frosty the same thing will start to happen. The frozen treat may start disappearing soon which, of course, will delight fans of the Vanilla Frosty eager for its return.

Wendy's always made it clear that the Strawberry Frosty was a limited-time offer. Its popularity could make it a recurring seasonal offering like the PSL or McDonald's (MCD) Shamrock Shake. Those drinks are highly anticipated, generate a lot of media coverage, and drive lapsed customers back to the brand while getting regulars to spend more.