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Wendy's Fans Worry About a Possible Change to Beloved Treat

Suspicions have been raised about just how large the customer favorite is.

Smaller portions have, for years, been a way for those selling food to cut costs without raising prices. 

That is how many fine-dining restaurants in cities like New York and Los Angeles offer a $40 tasting menu during Restaurant Week and some fast food manufacturers deal with the rising cost of ingredients. 

The concept of "shrinkflation" is well-documented in everything from Mondelez  (MDLZ) - Get Free Report's Frito-Lay chips to Domino's Pizza  (DPZ) - Get Free Report. Will, after all, anyone notice if a bag of chips is 9.25 instead of 9.75 ounces? Or if an order of chicken wings selling for the same price now has eight chicken wings instead of 10?

But if your product is as beloved as the Wendy's  (WEN) - Get Free Report chocolate Frosty, you can rest assured that people will be watching it closely. Earlier this month, a user named Vetterer96 posted a picture of a Large Frosty with a caption reading "I could've sworn last year, I purchased a frosty that was at least 1/3 more than this" on the /Wendy's Subreddit.

Don't Mess With the Chocolate Frosty

Some speculated that the size changed from 20 to 19 ounces while others went off purely off of personal experience and confirmed that the sizes felt smaller.

It could all be personal perception as Wendy's did not immediately respond to TheStreet's question on whether it had changed the size of the Frosty. 

Along with being Wendy's signature dessert, the Frosty is one of Wendy's most popular menu items. When the first Wendy's opened in Columbus in 1969, the Chocolate Frosty was one of the five items on the menu alongside hamburgers, chili, french fries and soda

The vanilla version was introduced in 2006 while, this summer, locations have swapped it for a strawberry one. (They couldn't have all three since the machines at most Wendy's stores re only equipped to make two flavors at a time.)

"Most of the responses here are the same: 'Why do you need more calories?'" the original Reddit poster wrote after receiving some comments about why a small change in size mattered. "This post is about recognizing the label of what 'large' signifies in the fast-food industry. [...] Large signifies a large portion and the prices should reflect that.

Subway and Daiya Have Adjusted sizes

The concept of 'shrinkflation' has been in the news a lot lately. As the price of food rose by 8.6% between July 2021 and 2022, both casual and sit-down restaurants have been shrinking portion sizes.

Sandwich chain Subway decreased the amount of meat in its rotisserie-style chicken sandwiches while alternative dairy producer Daiya Foods recently swapped its 8-ounce package of vegan cheese shreds for a 7.1-ounce one.

This is all part of an effort to navigate rising ingredient costs without raising the price of a popular items — particularly for inexpensive fast food, any increase in price is usually met with much more of an outcry.

"People tend to underestimate changes in object sizes,” Boston College Marketing Professor Nailya Ordabayeva told Fortune Magazine. "It's pretty convenient for companies to actually move size, move around size, more than they do price, because people do notice price changes more."

But even price changes are inevitable — McDonald's  (MCD) - Get Free Report recently said it had to raise prices by approximately 6% to the rising costs of both food, labor and supplies needed to cook burger.

Keyblanc analysts also estimated that Tex-Mex chain Chipotle  (CMG) - Get Free Report increased the price of its steak and barbacoa entree by 6.2% at many of its locations.