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Wendy's Frosty Reception

Just as Wendy's (NYSE: WEN  ) was kicking off its weekend promotion for free Frosty Jr. frozen treats, the world's third-biggest fast-food chain got another kind of sweet reward. Police got a break in their case against alleged finger planter Anna Ayala when they were able to identify the errant digit.

At this point, even a full-blown confession wouldn't satisfy Wendy's and its shareholders. The company has suffered a great deal of financial harm, especially in the California market where the incident took place.

Whether the allegations are real -- as was the fried chicken head at McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) in an order of Chicken McNuggets -- or ultimately exposed as fake, like the mouse in the vegetable soup at CBRL Group (Nasdaq: CBRL  ) , history has been kind to the chains in the long run. Yes, the operators suffer in the near term and may tweak their menus to avoid rekindling memories of the macabre events, but they ultimately have little problem in moving on.

Even Jack in the Box (NYSE: JBX  ) keeps flipping along despite the horrific E. coli outbreak a dozen years ago that took the lives of a few patrons.

That's why Wendy's best friend right now isn't a giveaway of kid-sized dairy treats, even if its smooth texture will help drum down illusions of chunkier finds elsewhere on the menu. No, Wendy's best friend right now is time.

Shareholders, especially the impatient, speculating kind, aren't going to like that. Waiting isn't fun at quick-service restaurants, including the 6,700 restaurants that Wendy's owns worldwide. Yet waiting is the one proven remedy to heal these scars -- even the ones that weren't self-inflicted.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has eaten at Wendy's since the Ayala incident, but he hasn't ordered the chili. He owns shares in CBRL Group.The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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