Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Are You Trying To Kill Us?

Lupe Fiasco--"Double Burger With Cheese" (mp3)

In a quick stop at a Captain D's seafood restaurant over Thanksgiving break, I ordered a quick fish sandwich at the drive-thru. I knew it would be a fried piece of cod on a bun, with lettuce and tomato and some kind of mayo or tartar sauce. That's what I thought. What I got was a sandwich with all of that plus a slice of cheese, a pile of "onion straws" and another source of fat that I can't remember now. Maybe they buttered the bun.

Last Sunday night, while I was watching the Steelers play the Chiefs, I was bombarded with ads for two products in particular--both food. One was a Papa John's pizza boasting two layers of pepperoni, a normal layer with the kind of pepperoni you'd expect on a carryout pizza and then another hidden, secret layer of large "deli-style" pepperoni. The thing looked like it had more layers of sliced meat than the layers of wallpaper I took off my kitchen.

The other new product was "The 'W'," a new Wendy's sandwich with not only that catchy name but also two layers of beef and two layers of cheese plus a pinkish/orangish sauce that looked suspiciously like the Special Sauce that has been on Big Macs for years. In short, it looked a lot like a double cheeseburgerish kind of thing, only somehow bigger.

All I could think each time the commercials would come on was "Why are you trying to kill us?"

A slice of Papa John's pepperoni has 330 calories and 14 grams of fat, including 6 grams of saturated fat. That's pretty hefty considering that most of us are going to eat at least two pieces. But wait. Those numbers are for the usual Papa John's pepperoni. Their new double-layer version sneaks in 2 more grams of fat, and an extra gram of saturated. Why? Why do we want that extra layer of pepperoni?

The "W" is, in fact, not bigger. It's smaller. It is made with the Jr. hamburger patties and appears more as a snack than one of their bigger burgers. But here's what is on it:

Premium Butter Toasted Bun , two Jr. Hamburger Patties, 2 slices of American Cheese, Signature Sauce, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Mayonnaise, Ketchup, Mustard, Honey Mustard Sauce, Crinkle Cut Pickles, Red Onion, Tomato, Lettuce.

In other words, it is arguably the most condimented sandwich in the world with no less than 11 toppings. But all of that comes with a price, actually several. That little double cheeseburger sammy, that little snack, sneaks in under those two slices of Papa John's by 80 calories, BUT it's got 33 grams of fat (with plenty of saturated fat and even some trans fat) AND 1480 mg of sodium! That means that little sandwich contains 62% of the salt that you should have in a given day. Fries with that?

By the way, neither of these items are the flagships of their respective fleets--there a certainly specialty pizzas and triple cheeseburgers that pack a lot more fat and salt than these newbies.

And by the way, a quality cheeseburger from a not-so-fast place like Five Guys has 55 grams of fat. Put some mayo on that bad boy and you add another 11 grams and you're closing in on your fat allowance for an entire day. Want a couple of hot dogs instead of that heavy burger? 70 grams of fat for the pair.

So I ask you, restaurants of America, and, sadly, not just fast food restaurants, why are you trying to kill us? What's in it for you?

I mean, I kind of understand the economics of selling us oversized portions that we can either gorge on and hide in the back of our refrigerators in styrofoam containers. That allows you to charge us more for those larger portions and it's a lot cheaper to get us a to-go box than it is to sell us a much smaller portion. So, I get that. But why do you want us dead?

I would be disgusted with myself if I owned the restaurants that posted online the nutritional information about their products that I have been looking at. Disgusted. Like most people who cook, I'm worrying about the fat all the time, buying lowfat mayo, using olive oil, cutting the butter down or out of recipes, curbing the cheese. I look for ways to lower the fat in salad dressings or to use less dressing. The meats I do cook are chicken breasts and pork tenderloin, for the most part.

Heck, I quit eating beef and most red meat. But I do dine at the establishments of the secret slayers of America, so I doubt that has made a difference. Here's proof. That fish sandwich I had? Well, of course I got some fries, and they talked me into trying the gumbo. All told, I had 66 grams of fat and 3114 mg of sodium (2400 is the daily allowance) in that lunch. We won't even talk about supper.


John said...

So I take it you won't be buying today's Living Social?

Bob said...

Yeah, I saw that. Unbelievable.

troutking said...

They aren't trying to kill you, it's just an unintended consequence. I'm sure when Newt or Mitt gets into office and gets government off our backs, the corporations will help us out.

Anonymous said...

The fast-foodies probably own stock in health insurance companies (c.f. our premium and deductible increase).


Disclaimer: I have no idea if the increases mean the companies are doing better, or worse. Either way, the "insured" seem to be doing worse.