The latest fast-food company to try to meet evolving consumer preferences is Wendy’s, the international burger chain known for its iconic square burgers. It is (finally!) testing out a vegetarian black bean burger in some Ohio restaurants, Columbus Biz Insider reports.
Wendy’s $4.50 black bean burger is being served on “a multigrain bun with asiago ranch sauce, Colby-pepper jack cheese, tomato and a spring mix,” according to the Columbus Biz Insider report. The result? “Shockingly… beautiful,” according to Columbus Underground, which also noted the strong customer enthusiasm at one participating location. “The crew in the kitchen was running to keep up with the orders…The demand for the bean burgers and the line were that ridiculous.”
Wendy’s is not the first burger chain to add a veggie burger to the mix. White Castle’s Veggie Sliders are now a permanent part of the menu as are MorningStar Farm Veggie Burgers at Burger King—but both restaurants’ offerings are made by boxed brands and NPR called White Castle’s “a little bit like inhaling greasy air.” That means the field for a delicious, original, fast-food veggie burger is still wide open.
Wendy’s veggie burger test actually predates the recent Change.org petition asking for one, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The petition was started last week by celebrity stuntman Steve-O, and has already garnered more than 19,000 signatures. (That petition is still small in comparison to the one asking the same from McDonald’s, created more than a year ago—it has more than 100,000 signatures. McDonald’s, which has been struggling of late, has not created its own veggie burger offering in the US.)
Wendy’s is the third-largest burger chain by sales in the US, following McDonald’s and Burger King, and operates in 30 countries around the world. Last week it announced that it would drop beef from its menu in India, where it already serves a large vegetarian customer base with options like potato burger patties and spinach-and-corn burgers. Cows are considered sacred by India’s Hindu majority and access to beef there has gotten more difficult, and in some cases even illegal.
Wendy’s did not respond to Quartz’s request for comment. We’ll update this post if we hear back.