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    Greasier Fare Still Rules

    Despite the influx of healthier options, burgers, fries and pizza are the most ordered items at restaurants.

    Though some fast-food chains have found success with healthier offerings, many people apparently still prefer to indulge in greasier fare when they eat out, the Associated Press reported.

    The top three items ordered at restaurants in 2004 were burgers, french fries and pizza, according to the NPD Group, a consumer marketing research firm. And while recent studies have found that Americans’ consumption of fruit and vegetable is on the rise, most people are eating those things at home, the report said.

    Wendy's recently dropped its entree-sized fruit bowl of melon, pineapple and grapes and a smaller fruit cup because they didn't sell enough. Wendy's introduced the items in February to provide healthier choices and counter publicity blaming fast food for Americans' expanding waistlines. The bowl cost around $4.19, the cup around $2.19.

    "We put a strong push behind it," said Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini. "But as we got through the summer and moved to fall, the fruit was not meeting our sales expectation."

    Wendy's mistake might not have been the choice to offer fruit in the first place, but rather its choice of fruit -- melons can have a short shelf life.

    "Wendy's had the right idea to offer fruit, but knowing the fresh cut fruit business, melons are harder to work with than hardier fruits," said Elizabeth Pivonka, a nutritionist and president of Produce for Better Health Foundation.

    Bertini, the spokesman for Wendy's, said that fruit did not sell well in cold weather and that the chain may reintroduce it sometime.

    Dennis Milton, an analyst at Standard & Poor's, said healthy food has been key to the fast-food industry's growth in the past three years, particularly at McDonald's, where healthier menu items have attracted women and health-conscious eaters.

    Neither Wendy's International Inc. nor McDonald's Corp. would release specific sales figures for its healthier offerings. In 2002, Wendy's began improving its salad offerings and same-store sales rose 4.7 percent, an increase the company partly attributed to salad sales. Same-store sales for McDonald's restaurants increased 9.6 percent in 2004 and 4.4 percent last year, an increase the chain attributed in part to improved menu offerings.

    "Wendy's is more an exception than the rule," Milton said. "It has helped set the trend in motion with the success of its salads a couple years ago. McDonald's is just having more success at the expense of Wendy's."

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