Communication is all about context. You need to know not just what you’re saying, but who you’re talking to and the setting you’re in. If you were, for example, at a Wendy’s hamburger restaurant, there are certain things which are more appropriate and relevant to say than others.
Acceptable utterances at Wendy’s include: "I’d like a Baconator." Unacceptable utterances might include: "Like other phrasal template memes such as touch grass and Im a starving child, the Sir, This Is A Wendy's meme functions as a way to humorously tell a person that what they are saying is absolutely bonkers."
Sir, this is a Know Your Meme explainer article.
Where Did "Sir, This Is A Wendy’s" Come From?
A likely origin for the meme is an episode of The Office in which Michael Scott (played by Steve Carrell) demands a list of phone numbers from his employees of women he could date, and one of the numbers given (as a joke) is that of a Wendy’s restaurant. Michael calls the restaurant to flirt, and he is soon told by an employee, “No sir, this is a Wendy's restaurant."
A close cousin of "Sir, This Is A Wendy’s" is this Sir, This Is An Arby's. While the fast food restaurant is different, the gist of the idea is the same: these memes illustrate somebody saying something irrelevant or inappropriate and then being politely reminded that the context they find themselves in does not fit the words they have just spoken.
In the early 2010s, the catchphrase started to circulate widely on Twitter, where users wrote little scripts in which the phrase could be said. In 2019 and 2020, in a rather throwback kind of trend, the phrase found its way into webcomics posted on subreddits such as /r/comics and /r/memeeconomy.
How Do People Use ‘Sir, This Is A Wendy’s’?
People tend to say “Sir, this is a Wendy’s” in a way remarkably similar to the series of “explaining” memes such as the recent girl explaining or bro explaining. On the one hand, "Sir, this is a Wendy’s" can be used to mock a group or speaker who says something nonsensical or wrong (see below left) but it can also be used to display elaborate niche knowledge and a poster’s belonging to a community that values such knowledge (below right).
Why Do People Use ‘Sir, This Is A Wendy’s’?
One interesting thing about very “wordy” Twitter memes like this one (which, until Redditors applied them to webcomics, had no distinct visual component) is they all participate in a sort of code: Twitter users may apply this meme to situations in order to show they understand how discourse on Twitter works. The "Sir, this is a Wendy’s" meme is one of Twitter’s most common ways of describing a very common situation on the platform: a person babbling on about something most other people wouldn’t want to hear about.
The more visual usage of the meme on Reddit, which combines it with the webcomic form (kind of an early 2010s throwback) adds an illustration to the text. By the end of 2020, the meme became so established that it veered into anti-meme territory, with many seeking to subvert and redo it for comedic effect, exposing a fascinating wrinkle in its meaning.
By saying an appropriate phrase for the context of a Wendy’s, the customer in the meme ends up saying an inappropriate phrase for the context of the meme itself ("Sir, this is a Wendy’s" demands they say something you shouldn’t say at a Wendy’s). In this way, the anti-meme keeps the spirit of the original.
For the full history of the Sir, this is a Wendy’s meme and even more memes, check out our entry.