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stupidity supersized
the big big big mistake of pleasing a few
by joe procopio (@jproco)
5.3.04
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Not too long ago, I chronicled my journey into the wild world of weight loss. And while I successfully traversed my way through a drop of twenty-five pounds, dodging Atkins and South Beach and Sugarbusters and stomach stapling and all the rest of the fads and follies, one thing remained crucial and clear.

I never once set foot in a McDonald's.

Not that it was a rule, it was just common sense. If I needed to cut my weight, I needed to cut the calories and fat coming in. McDonald's is cheeseburgers, fries, milkshakes, and pies. I hear the McNuggets are all white meat now and no heads.

That's awesome. Good for them.

The long and short is that McDonald's is what it is. It's a quick bite at a reasonable price for the hungry person on the go. It's Fast. Friggin'. Food.

So why doesn't McDonald's understand this?

In a move that can only be described as ridiculously short-sighted, McDonald's recently announced that they would do away with the term "Supersize" in their menus. This is across the board, not just in healthy-happy-hippie hot spots like San Fran, Austin, and Intrepid HQ Chapel Hill.

The rub is that the term "Supersize" is one of the recent great American marketing successes. McDonald's, playing Microsoft to Wendy's Apple, swooped in and swiped the concept of the "Biggie" menu - ludicrously large portions at why-not-upgrade prices - and made it a part of the American Lexicon.

Who hasn't joked about taking a date to McDonald's and letting her supersize? When NBC decided to undercut competition on Thursday night with extended episodes, they labeled them "supersized." It's Swanson's "Hungry Man." It's Ford's F150. It's Two for Tuesday. It's Buy One Get One Free. It's Sam's Club Keg of Mayonnaise. It's the Super Gulp. It's the Large Movie Popcorn.

It's more than you need at a price you can afford.

And it's brilliant.

So now they're stabbing themselves in the eye by getting rid of this marketing miracle, all to capitulate to the perpetually more irritating no-carb crowd - and also, far more subtle and exponentially more dangerous, issuing a pre-emptive strike before the anti-smoking zealots become the anti-fatty zealots.

Aside: I'm telling you now. You beer drinkers better start learning how to brew your own. In your lifetime, alcohol will come under fire. Me? I'm developing my own whisky-making process involving Clorox, plantains, and an Igloo cooler. Don't try this at home, I'm a professional. And yeah, I know what you're thinking. Budweiser, enormous, never happen. That's exactly what R.J. Reynolds and Ray Kroc thought. Don't think that the plans weren't on the drawing board for Marlboro Gardens and McDonaldLand in Orlando, Florida.

Yes. This seemingly innocuous terminology shift is really the result of a successful shot across the bow of the largest and most visible fat factory in the world. It's not the first, just the first one to hit.

First they told you that 75% of the country was overweight, a good chunk of those obese. But we all quickly realized they were using Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of fitness that's just plain deceptive in its aggressive inaccuracy. Then they told you that weight-related heart issues would soon overtake tobacco-related issues as the number one killer of Americans. But when you think about it, the real culprit is a lack of exercise and an ease of lifestyle that dwarfs the sloth of any other in human history.

McDonalds is taking a defensive posture - before the protests, before the lawsuits get taken seriously by husky judges who were picked on in the 3rd grade, before the congressional investigative panel which will really just be an excuse for Democrats to accuse Republicans of thickening our kids, and vice versa. McDonalds has sent a clear message to the fat police. That message?

"Yes. We understand that Americans don't have the sense to NOT order the biggest size possible when the opportunity is presented."

And before you start in with your "Hey pal, the average American can't get enough of The Simple Life 2," let me save you from that slippery slope. The opposite is actually true. If the bunch of fat, white, stupid, old network executives cared about quality over cost, television would experience a new golden age. The truth is, they truly believe that you can't and won't change the channel, so they're not bothered. Reality TV is stupid, but it's very profitable, and it isn't killing anybody.

Yet.

A couple of paragraphs back, I took a shot at the anti-smoking movement, so now I'll justify the connection. The initial concessions to non-smokers were also pre-emptive, "non-smoking" sections started popping up as a means to satisfy a niche. Yes, a niche. Not the niche that didn't smoke, but the niche that simply would not stand to eat anywhere near a smoker.

Not long after, laws were passed. Then some more. Then some more. Until we've reached the point where you can no longer smoke in bars in some areas - a law which actually, in most cases, hurts the very establishments it purports to protect.

So follow me along the conclusion highway. Why aren't cigarettes, as dangerous, unpopular, and socially divisive as they are, illegal?

The strongarm tobacco companies? No. The farmers are all waiting to be bought out and the companies have either folded, diversified, or are on their way to financial ruin.

The strongarm smokers? Right. No lobby. No power. And let's face it, if we work too hard, we get winded.

The right answer is the answer to every question that ever started and ended with the creation and extension of laws.

Money.

Taxes.

So keep your eyes open, because McDonalds just let the Crisco out of the tube. This isn't the first time you've heard the phrase "fat tax," and it won't be the last. Until then, I suggest you keep supersizing, smoking, drinking, and farting in public. Because the ACLU and like-minded saviors are too busy with the more popular causes and minivan parents are eyeing their kids and thinking about saying, "Yes, Timmy. Those shorts DO make your butt look big and we're going to GET the bastards who did this to you."

And then, Wham! We're all eating bunless burgers and answering yes when asked if we'd "like a fry with that." We're washing it down with Adequate Gulps, driving our electric hybrids to pick up a few Peckish Man dinners and maybe, if we're lucky, a 12-ounce jar of mayonnaise, all while getting only one for Tuesday.

Who wants to live in a world like that?


ABOUT JOE PROCOPIO

Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.

more about joe procopio

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COMMENTS

matt morin
5.3.04 @ 1:28a

Joe, non-smokers aren't a "niche." Non-smokers are the majority. That's why we kicked your ass outside.

The thing you're missing is this: Smoking hurts other people. If I'm a waiter and don't smoke, you're forcing me to smoke secondhand.

But eating fat doesn't hurt anyone else. If I'm a 2% body fat health nut, you're not forcing me to ingest 40 grams of saturated fat.

America is (mostly) fine if people want to kill themselves. They're not fine with killing other people. That's why you can drink yourself to death, but not drink and drive. You can smoke, but not if it's around someone who doesn't want to. And until the day comes when the guy on the bus eats a cheeseburger and suddenly I get fat from smelling those two all-beef patties, no one's going after fast food.

McDonalds is just following a trend. The lo-carb thing is in. They're capitalizing on it.

sandra thompson
5.3.04 @ 7:40a

Actually, according to the stats, heart disease kills more people than cancer, including lung cancer, in this country. When we get the stats, as I'm confident we will, that low carb/no carb diets are "causing" more heart disease, I reckon we'll just have to say, "Oh, well...."

juli mccarthy
5.3.04 @ 7:50a

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." - HL Mencken

And it's true. We are very easily led, and we're too lazy to take the time to think. That's why Supersize caught on in the first place, and it's why we're all jumping on the bandwagon to eliminate it now.

And Matt, I won't defend smoking, because it's not a healthy thing to do, but you're way oversimplifying the whole smoking/fat/alcohol thing. Sure, you can drink yourself stupid and eat yourself obese and think it's not affecting anyone else, until you think about the shared health costs we all pay. (And I hear this very argument from non-smokers all the time - yes, you will probably someday be supporting my cancer-ridden self through your health care costs, just as I will be supporting some drunk who has managed to kill 70% of his brain, or some fat slob whose artery clogs have caused him to stroke out.)

bettina berger
5.3.04 @ 8:11a

I mostly agree with matt. When I lived in SanFran it felt like paradise to eat in restaurants where your experience was not spoilt by wads of smoke. On the other hand I can only shake my head when I read about the regulations in New York. That is a bit too much. I'd be happy to have just a few nice restaurants or bars without smokers, but here in Germany that is next to impossible. All you get is a dark corner with a few non-smoking tables where you may be lucky if the place has a working aircondition.

On the other hand I agree with juli. Almost everybody over here has expensive health insurances and I think it is unfair that people who care for their health have to pay the same as people who drink and eat too much. Ok, smokers often die younger so they might actually be "cheaper". What the insurance companies are coming up with are bonuses for people who are gym members, who quit smoking and so on. It is just beginning but I think it is a good way.

Another good thing: The first Subway opened here a few weeks ago! That is fast food that I can really enjoy. If you want Burgers, at least go to Burger King and not McD. ;-)

juli mccarthy
5.3.04 @ 8:22a

Yeah, well, let's think about insurance for a sec. Basically, what we're doing with insurance is betting against ourselves. I'm not advocating NOT being insured, but insurance is one of those funny things that I think about occasionally and realize how bizarre we are as a species. And here's the kicker - you can eat right, not smoke, not drink, and still get run over by a bus.

lisa r
5.3.04 @ 8:38a

As a nutritionist (albeit an animal nutritionist--but physiology is almost the same across species), I'm watching the whole Akins thing and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like Sandra, I think trading carbs for fat is asking for heart disease to explode in our population, and it no doubt will. Our bodies require carbs and whatever we don't get in our diet our bodies will make from fat and protein--neither process of which is designed to make large quantities of carbohydrates on a daily basis. Break down too much protein, and then you've got problems with urea and ammonia detoxification. Try to metabolize fat too fast, and the liver gets fatty because it can't break it down as fast as it can be mobilized from fat tissue.

All fad diets are based on two things--people are inherently impatient and they all want to do something the easy way. Why exercise if a fad diet will melt away the pounds? Never mind what it's doing to your endocrine system or your circulatory system...we want to look good in that nearly there bathing suit when the stud muffin or Victoria's Secret model glances our way.

Obesity is increasing the incidence of adult-onset diabetes. I wonder just how many more incidences of pancreatic burnout we're going to see in response to the Atkins fad?

We're a nation of fatties not because McDonald's started the supersize fad, we're a nation of fatties because of television, computers, and Nintendo. Before they came along kids played outside--rode bikes, played cops and robbers, and all sorts of games that required PHYSICAL ACTION. Joysticks and remote controls exercise a limited amount of muscles.

We also have become a nation of CONVENIENCE. Why even learn to cook if McDonalds or Lean Cuisine or someone else will do it for you?

As for the non-smoker issue--I'm a non-smoker who grew up with smoking parents (they finally stopped when I was a sophomore in college). Thanks to their smoking, I was born with a hole in my heart and I have chronic sinus problems. I LOVE being able to go in smoke-free restaurants. Unfortunately, that's not possible when I go home for a visit, because home is Winston-Salem, NC, headquarters of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

Restaurants that don't provide a non-smoking section, or who don't provide one that truly is smoke-free, or (on occasion--Lexington Barbecue is an exception!)who make me walk through the smoking section to get to the non-smoking section do NOT get my business. Why should I have to suffer because someone else is having a nicotine fit? And why should I pay a restauranteur good money for forcing me to be exposed to cigarette smoke as part of the "privilege" of eating in their establishment?



[edited]

joe procopio
5.3.04 @ 9:38a

All good points - and just to reiterate. It's the point where the government slaps regulations, seemingly at whim, on a vice that boils my blood.

Ask any cop what the fuel is for the majority of violence, assaults, injuries, and fatalities on their beat. I bet you a dozen donuts that they'll answer "alcohol!" before you finish asking the question.

The McDonalds move is not a carb move - in fact, their burgers still boldly include the bun - it is a direct response to the onslaught of lawsuits being brought against them by people who claim they were tricked into supersizing and it's McDonald's fault that they are fat. But this isn't a personal responsibility issue in my mind, it's a liability issue. By capitulating, McDs has swung open the door for the next wave of fat police to stick their nose where it doesn't belong.

Matt, you're an ad guy, tell me throwing away the concept of supersizing is a good move. It's a New Coke situation!

tracey kelley
5.3.04 @ 9:43a

I hear the McNuggets are all white meat now and no heads. That's awesome. Good for them.

I hear these ads, laugh my fool head off, then shudder uncontrollably. Parts is parts, after all.

As a former almost two-pack a day smoker who hasn't smoked longer than she did smoke, I agree it is a choice, but I think society has finally evolved from the post-war era to realize it's NOT a glamourous habit. There once was a day when it was acceptable to smoke in offices, on airplanes and even while waiting in the doctor's offices. Fortunately, those days are over.

So as much as I don't shoot spitwads at other people while in a restaurant, although I may enjoy doing it in my home, I completely agree that certain public establishments should not allow smoking.

LAZY. We're all just LAZY. That's why we're fat, that's why we watch reality tv, that's why we're apathetic about voting. It's all related.

adam kraemer
5.3.04 @ 11:16a

I think, regarding smoking, that you forget, Matt, that the second-hand smoke thing is a very recent (relatively) development. Non-smoking sections were not started because smoke posed a health risk. Non-smoking sections were started because people like to be able to eat their food without it tasting like an ash tray. So don't get on your high-non-smoking horse and claim that the smoke-free movement started because you non-smokers are so much more health-conscious than the rest of us. Truth be told, I prefer to sit in the non-smoking section, too.

That said, cigarettes, as far as I know, are the only product on the market right now where using them correctly, carefully, and with all the proper caution still has a good chance of resulting in your death.

matt morin
5.3.04 @ 11:22a

Joe, trust me, McD's will come up with something other than Supersized.

"Sir, for just .78 cents more you can Go McHealthy™ and we'll fry your fries in olive oil, plus you'll get the no-carb bun and our new lo-carb ketchup."

jael mchenry
5.3.04 @ 1:45p

McDonald's is cheeseburgers, fries, milkshakes, and pies.

As you say, you haven't been in a McDonald's lately. They're also entree salads and flatbread sandwiches. At least around here.

They'll sell what sells, and having healthier options sells, so why not do it? Doesn't mean they're not still selling all the rest of the crap, but there really are options, even in fast food. Because in options, there is money.

adam kraemer
5.3.04 @ 1:56p

Actually, in some ways I applaud getting rid of the supersize. It beats Burger King's move of a few years ago of getting rid of "small" sizes. Now at BK, the smallest size is "medium." That doesn't even make any sense.

matt morin
5.3.04 @ 3:01p

Juli, I guess i was talking more physically hurting than financially hurting. But also remember, smokers or people who are overweight are going to pay a higher insurance premium that healthy people.

Adam, yes, non-smoking sections were developed long before the secondhand smoke issue came around. But the full-on bans of smoking in restaurants, airports, etc., is a new(ish) thing almost entirely based on the secondhand smoke issue.

So Joe, what's wrong with taxing vices? If that vice is going to cost everyone in terms of the diffused cost of extra medical care, why not make people pay more to help cover their share?

matt morin
5.3.04 @ 3:07p

The other thing to remember in all this is it's not only what you eat, it's how much you eat.

People eat too damn much. And while McDonalds can offer all the healthy Chef's salads they want, if someone eats 3 of them for lunch, they're still going to gain weight.

Calories are calories. So weight-wise, if you burn 2500 calories a day, it really doesn't matter if those 2500 calories come from a burger or a salad. (Of course nutritionally and health-wise it totally matters.)

lisa r
5.3.04 @ 3:55p

Calories are calories. So weight-wise, if you burn 2500 calories a day, it really doesn't matter if those 2500 calories come from a burger or a salad. (Of course nutritionally and health-wise it totally matters.)

Exactly. Burn more than you take in, you lose weight. Eat more than you burn, you gain weight.

jael mchenry
5.3.04 @ 4:22p

And while McDonalds can offer all the healthy Chef's salads they want, if someone eats 3 of them for lunch, they're still going to gain weight.

Yeah, but... whatever. If you're going to harsh on McDonald's for contributing to America's girth, it's gotta be based on serving size. Three salads? Not a serving size. Give them some credit.

On the other hand, I did see a salad at Starbucks the other day with over 50 grams of fat in it. Now that's irresponsible.

matt morin
5.3.04 @ 4:36p

Jael, the problem a lot of nutritionists had/have with the low-fat labeling craze is it gave people an excuse to eat more. People thought, "Hell, these Snackwells are FAT FREE, so I can eat a whole box!"

I think that's what happens a lot. People equate "fat-free" with "not fattening."

If you want to talk serving size, go back and read Let's eat and see how much the average American eats.

[edited]

robert melos
5.3.04 @ 5:03p

McDonald's is cheeseburgers, fries, milkshakes, and pies.

Joe, that's so poetic. It's like a love poem to McDonald's.

Poetry aside, I agree dumping the supersize is the biggest mistake they can make. It would be like America giving back the Statue Of Liberty because the French built it. Besides, it's unAmerican to bow to public pressure.

jeff wilder
5.3.04 @ 5:07p

A war on fast food. That's just as bogus as the current war on drugs.

jael mchenry
5.3.04 @ 5:21p

If you want to talk serving size, go back and read Let's eat and see how much the average American eats.

Again, that's not relevant to the point I'm making. My point is, you can blame McDonald's for misleading labels, you can blame them for serving giant meals far beyond the appropriate nutritional limits, but if you're claiming that Americans will order three of something just because it's lowfat, that's hardly the fault of McDonald's.

And what's your solution? Because it seems like you think Americans are going to stuff their fat faces regardless of what options are offered.

matt morin
5.3.04 @ 6:42p

I think we're arguing the same point.

Joe's column talks about legislation or lawsuits based on the shitty health effects of McD's food.

All I'm saying is, McDonalds can start serving Apple McSlices and McWheatgrass, but it still won't change the fact that people eat way too much and exercise way too little.

Like Tracey said: We're LAZY. if we weren't so lazy, what McDonalds serves us would be of only minor consequence.

I'm not blamg McDonalds for anything. There's not a person in this country who doesn't know fast food is bad for you. So we're dumb enough to eat too much of their shitty food. And when we do, we're lazy enough that we don't burn off the calories we just ingested.

Personally, I'm tired of everyone blaming anyone but themselves for their weight problems. As Joe proved with his 25lb weight loss - a little discipline and exercise goes a long way.

lisa r
5.3.04 @ 8:35p

Precisely. McDonald's wasn't forcing anyone to order supersize fries. Burger King took away the choice of small sizes, but still doesn't force someone to eat everything on his or her plate.

Yet, if you look at the recent attempt to sue McDonald's for making someone fat, the plaintiff would have you believe that he or she had no option but to order and eat the food. Not true. They could have gone to the salad bar next door, and put together a reasonable (not top heavy with ham, cheese, pepperoni, and pasta salads) salad and had a healthy meal. They didn't, and they didn't exercise. The fault lies with them alone, as apparently there was no evidence to show there was a metabolic disorder causing excess weight gain.

As the saying goes, you are what you eat.

dan gonzalez
5.4.04 @ 12:48a

Some random thoughts from a drunk guy stuck in Hagerstown, MD:

1. Joe, This column is pure rock.

2. Juli is pure rock for quoting Mencken.

3. Lisa is pure rock. She is clearly smarter than us all, but accurately described the ill-effects of ketosis without making us feel like the dullards we are.

4. Smoking is stupid and I hate it. I do it because I am an addict, but tonight at the lounge, I asked a random bartender if he minded if I smoked. This wasn't because it would hurt him, the effects of secondhand smoke are greatly exxagerated, I did it out of courtesy, that stupid old Arthurian value that no one gives a shit about anymore. Plus, I prefer to be outside anyway where things are less confusing.

5. The main topic of this discussion, and the great column that brought it forward, is the continuing debate our country is having about how personal responsibility should factor into our lives. The democrats want to obliviate it. The republicans ignore it altogether. It really should play a universal, non-discriminatory part in our lives, but how best to affect that?

lisa r
5.4.04 @ 7:57a

Dan is pure rock for recognizing that I was indeed describing ketosis. One gold star, coming up!!

tracey kelley
5.4.04 @ 9:35a

I have absolutely no sympathy for any "victim" of a smoking or overeating lawsuit. A smoker got cancer? NOooooo way. Really? Ya don't say? An extremely fat person became "addicted" to McDonald's fries and couldn't stop eating them and got fatter? NOOoo, really? That's too fuckin' bad.

Yep. No more personal responsibility in this world. We're all just aimless drones, helplessly led by the crotch hairs by every advertisement we see. Funny how I still scarf down an entire pint of B&J's Phish Food when they don't run ads in my marketplace. The devil made me do it.

Let's not forget that in America, value equals BIG. We order a $9.95 bowl of Zesty Fiesta Chicken Penne Pasta from Applebee's, swimming in a "creamy marinara" sauce with 14 grams of fat. The serving in the bowl, which actually provides 3 accepted dietary servings, and eat the whole damn thing. Nevermind that the dish costs the restaurant $1.92 to make - they have to serve us a portion that makes us believe it's worth $10.00, rather than a portion a 1/3rd the size for $4.00. Couldn't make money doing that,, heaven's no.

dan gonzalez
5.4.04 @ 11:25a

Dan is pure rock for recognizing that I was indeed describing ketosis.

I only knew that because I looked into it when everyone and their dog was telling me Adkins was gold. A gold 'S' for skeptic is the most I'm due, but thanks. ;-)

Just to clarify: I wasn't saying I wasn't responsible for my addiction to smokes, I was saying that I'm an addict but it's my job to fight it. That's why I won't sue. That's why I won't drive up your healthcare costs by demanding stop-smoking treatment be provided.

I understand secondhand smoke is unfair, and possibly unhealthful in some circumstances, but bartenders choose their workplace. I just feel better about it if I ask people if they mind.

Tracey, you're right about the big portions and such. People used to act like you were killing some kid in China if you didn't clean your plate. But why force it? I'll take it to go, or have them pitch it if I'm not headed home.

Matt, non-smokers are the majority, true. But I wonder if active anti-smokers are a majority as well, or have just taken the liberty to represent them all?

[edited]

matt morin
5.4.04 @ 11:27a

Intrepid Media: Helplessly led by the crotch hairs.

Tracey's totally right. Do you guys have the Cheesecake Factory out east? One plate will literally feed three people with leftovers to spare. I've never been there where I've even eaten half my food. But of course I look around and see finished plates everywhere.

Just on Sunday I was in a local burger joint called Barneys getting a turkey burger. Sitting at a table was a family of four - all of whom weighed at least 400 pounds each. And what are they eating? Double cheeseburgers with bacon. Incredible. These people can hardly move or breathe without effort, and there they are scarfing down about 1500 calories in one sitting.

juli mccarthy
5.4.04 @ 11:43a

Man, I hate going to restaurants where the portions are huge. It's rare that I will take a "doggie bag" because I think that's sort of weird (can't explain it, just do). People tend to get pissy when I eat a third of my dinner and then order dessert, which I again only eat a third of.

On rare occasions, I will eat everything on my plate and then some. There's an Italian restuarant near my house where the food is so good I can only go there once a year, because I'm in pain for days afterward.

adam kraemer
5.4.04 @ 12:32p

There's a Cheesecake Factory in Burlington, MA, I'm pretty sure. Good stuff. I allowed myself to go there once. Just once.

A smoker got cancer? NOooooo way. Really? Ya don't say?

To be fair, the tobacco industry claimed for years that smoking didn't cause cancer. That's not personal responsibility, and that's why I didn't have a problem with those early lawsuits. In this day and age, yes, everyone knows smoking causes cancer, but I was all for punishing the industry that tried to hide that for years.

McDonald's executives have never claimed that overeating their food won't make you fat. Hell, they provide a fat/calorie list if you ask for one. That's why I thought the fast food lawsuits were ridiculous.

As I said before, name one other product whose correct use is designed to kill you. It's definitely not a small order of fries.

matt morin
5.4.04 @ 12:56p

I dare everyone to go ask for that nutrition list at McD's. You'll be stunned at how bad that food is nutritionally.

You think you know how bad it is, but damn...

matt morin
5.4.04 @ 1:04p

Actually, here's the McDonalds nutrition list.

Check it out. A Big Mac with large fries has 57 grams of fat.

Think you're better off with the chicken sandwich? The Crispy Chicken with large fries still has 51 grams of fat.

Some of their Triple Thick Shakes contain 135% of your daily allowance of saturated fat.

A Big Mac, large fries and large Coke contain 1430 calories. That's about 75% of the calories we need in an entire day.

Burger King is even worse. A Whopper (no cheese), large fries and large Coke? 1530 calories (590 from fat), 67 grams of fat (20 grams saturated) and 1900mg of sodium.

[edited]

adam kraemer
5.4.04 @ 1:59p

Good lord. I think I just gained weight from reading that.

joe procopio
5.4.04 @ 2:35p

I have a compiled spreadsheet from all the restaurants I frequent. Very anal, but very handy.

Burger King is indeed the worst, followed closely by Taco Bell.

But then, as I tried to drive home in my column, if you're trying to lose weight or stay healthy, common sense should tell you to lay off all of it.

adam kraemer
5.4.04 @ 3:34p

Does Taco Bell depend on what you eat? How bad could a chicken soft taco be?

tracey kelley
5.4.04 @ 3:59p

I have a compiled spreadsheet from all the restaurants I frequent. Very anal, but very handy.

What? You did this?

I've been very, very good this year not eating at fast food restaurants, although all the road-trippin' I do makes it hard sometimes. Since I read Fast Food Nation, however, it's been easier to avoid them altogether.

That being said, the local Mexican and Pakistani restaurants I frequent the most (lunch at least once a week) might kill me. Sure, everthing is fresh (the salsa varies from week to week based on the tomatoes used, and in the summer, it's practically morphine, it's so good and addictive) but deep-fryin' that fresh chicken in my chimi does nothing good for my ass.

But the taste? Del uno!

jael mchenry
5.4.04 @ 4:11p

Does Taco Bell depend on what you eat? How bad could a chicken soft taco be?

Absolutely. All the fast food places have good options and bad options. At McDonald's you can get a Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch salad for 270 calories w/Low-Fat Balsamic Vinagrette for 40. A hamburger is under 300 calories, and although 10 grams of fat isn't the best thing in the world for you, it's nothing near the bad stuff. Grilled chicken sandwich? 400 calories.

As for your question about the chicken soft taco, that's 160 calories and 4 grams of fat, without cheese. Have two!

jael mchenry
5.4.04 @ 4:13p

Okay, and this is the funniest thing I've seen on any of the fast food nutrition websites:

Nutritional values not applicable to Taco Bell® products in Hawaii.

So... they're different there? Is the chicken taco made with Spam, or what?

tracey kelley
5.4.04 @ 4:43p

Well, since Hawaii is the top consumer of SPAM, it's very possible.

AAGH! I can see the SPAMmobile headlights!

david damsker
5.5.04 @ 8:41a

People tend to get pissy when I eat a third of my dinner and then order dessert, which I again only eat a third of.

I hate it when people do that! (Well, not really, because then I can eat their leftovers)

Joe, I totally agree with you that the only reason cigarettes are still legal are the taxes. However, I totally disagree with your assertion that we've reached the point where you can no longer smoke in bars in some areas - a law which actually, in most cases, hurts the very establishments it purports to protect.

Show me ONE piece of evidence that this true.



tracey kelley
5.5.04 @ 9:57a

McDonald's did the supersize thing to attract a certain type of audience, just like they swing back and forth on attracting children with toys. This rage of health food is to appease the low-carb-counting mommas who have kids clammering for a Happy Meal, but don't want to eat any more cold fries. Voila! We now present you salads and gardenburgers. It's all in the marketing.

People who want more portions will actually pay more now than they did supersizing. So McD's isn't being altruistic in any way. It's just another profit move.

juli mccarthy
5.5.04 @ 10:09a

I have nothing like actual evidence, but I will say that having worked in the restaurant and bar industry for 15 years, I was able to observe the creeping expansion of the non-smoking section, and oh yes, it hurt.

joe procopio
5.5.04 @ 10:17a

link

link

link

link

link

Just a sampling. By the way, the contrary POV comes mostly from no-smoking NPOs, and they all sound eerily and cheerily similar. But there are, as evidenced above, municipalities looking for waivers or providing aid to business that have been severely damaged. That alone should tell you this is a bullshit law.

Make it illegal, or leave it alone. Alcohol is so next.

juli mccarthy
5.5.04 @ 10:30a

We already tried making booze illegal and it didn't work. For some inane reason, The Powers That Be can't seem to get it through their thick skulls that screwing around with people's vices is a bad idea. I wanna live in Amsterdam.

jael mchenry
5.5.04 @ 10:31a

Alcohol isn't going anywhere. Don't you read me?

adam kraemer
5.5.04 @ 11:10a

Has anyone heard of this guy Morgan Spurlock? He decided to live off only McDonald's food for 30 days and film it for a documentary. Salon's got a good interview with him here.

tracey kelley
5.5.04 @ 12:20p

Yeah, that was incredible.

russ carr
5.5.04 @ 12:32p

I mentioned him in my column two months ago, Adam. Don't you read me?

dan gonzalez
5.5.04 @ 12:41p

Alcohol isn't going anywhere. Don't you read me?

Alcohol has arleady been damaged by the arbitrary assertion that .08 = impairment for all individuals. And the fact that the states were coerced into raising the drinking age to 21. Oh yeah we got to vote, but the Fed agreed to pull all highway maintenence subsidies if the vote was no.

By the way, the contrary POV comes mostly from no-smoking NPOs

The exact type of liberal NPO's which are responsible for the rampant social-engineering that plagues us in other matters. Personal responsibity, choice, and free thought are not relevant if one is trying to forcibly implement a new design for society.

Morgan Spurlock

I heard about that. It's cool that he demonstrated it for actual proof, but wouldn't good old-fashioned logic tell you that if you eat nothing but that for a month you're gonna get fatter? Also, I'm not sure I get his point. All McD's said was that it's food could be used as a part of a healthy diet, albeit the bad part, but never the entire diet.

[edited]

jael mchenry
5.5.04 @ 2:44p

He also fully admits he avoided any of the healthy options. From the Washington Post interview: "Before Spurlock began his journey into saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, he established a few ground rules based on observations he'd made of typical McDonald's customers. They order Extra Value Meals, not à la carte. They're not so fond of the salads. They generally say yes to super-sizing when asked.... He super-sized when asked. He ate everything on his tray. He cut back on exercise, trying to take no more than the 2,500 steps that the average American walks in a day."

juli mccarthy
5.5.04 @ 2:56p

I could never do it. I have never managed yet to make it through a McDonald's sandwich of any kind. I ALWAYS get some hard or crunchy bit in the "meat" that sets my gag reflex off big time. I can handle the fries, but not more frequently than once a month, because I can feel the grease on my teeth.

matt morin
5.5.04 @ 3:24p

Well, Spurlock was trying to be realistic. The average American does almost zero exercise, so that's why he cut back.

He didn't make a point to eat the worst stuff either. He went through each Extra Value Meal one by one. And when he finished all of them, he started over on the list.

"Personal responsibity, choice, and free thought are not relevant if one is trying to forcibly implement a new design for society"

Dan, I don't buy that argument at all. if I want to be at a bar or restaurant, and I want to make the personal choice not to inhale smoke, how can I if the person sitting right next to me is smoking?

Your argument doesn't hold up. By allowing the minority to do whatever they want, you remove MY personal choice (and the personal choice of the majority.)

joe procopio
5.5.04 @ 3:34p

Actually Matt, I believe you have it backwards. You have the choice to patronize the bar or restaurant based on whether or not they allow smoking.

Your personal choice is dictaed by the decisions you make. If you ban something, you inherently REMOVE a choice.

What you've painted is not a choice issue, but a decision issue. In other words, if you decide to go out in the rain, you do not have the choice of whether or not to get wet.

david damsker
5.5.04 @ 3:43p

link

link

david damsker
5.5.04 @ 3:44p

I really think CA is the model to look at. There are other studies that show that CA has had no ill effects from the ban.....what other states need is a full, state-wide ban to be effective....not these local ordinances that vary greatly from place to place.

[edited]

matt morin
5.5.04 @ 4:41p

The California ban was centered around worker's rights. You can't provide hazardous working conditions - and making workers spend long shifts in smoke-filled rooms is hazardous.

Joe, if every bar I go into is filled with smokers, how is that a choice? There are already plenty of regulations that are made for the benefit of the majority. You can't get naked and have sex in a bar - and that's certainly not hurting anyone else. But the majority of people don't want to see that. So you can't do it.

Same way with smoking. It was on the CA ballot and the (vast) majority of people approved it.

dan gonzalez
5.6.04 @ 12:00a

Well, Spurlock was trying to be realistic.

Why would he be realistic about only the exercise and not about the diet? The average American does not eat like that.

You can't provide hazardous working conditions - and making workers spend long shifts in smoke-filled rooms is hazardous Aw now, no one is forcing anybody work in a bar, and thus no one is forcing hazardous conditions on the people who willingly work there. Personal responsibility, see what I'm trying to get at it?

It was on the CA ballot and the (vast) majority of people approved it.

I don't agree with the state ban on this issue, it should never have even have been on a state ballot. If some municipality finds smoking in bars harmful, it should democratically elect to ban them locally. If some other town wants to allow people in bars to smoke, how does it affect individuals in the first town? If there was even one municipality in CA whose majority voted against the ban, democracy has been thoroughly subverted.

We've been down this road before, we don't agree, but I'll try to clarify my view. Not only does our system have checks and balances between branches, it has a hierarchy of jurisdictional powers based on level. Now I'm not a poli-sci guy or a lawyer, but it's clear that our system was designed to have four levels of government. The first is the self, the second is local, the third is the state, and the fourth is the federal. The first level is pure democracy, based on personal choices and inherent personal responsibility for making those choices. The second level, the local, is representative democracy, where dense populations of self-governers constantly interact, and local ordinance, where absolutely needed, can regulate interaction. The third is the state, a regional beaurocracy where municipalities are guided toward legally enforcing issues that are common to them all, without subverting the level of goverment that they represent. The last is the fed, which is a republic, and which guides states to enforce issues that are common to them all, without subverting the level of goverment that they represent. Stepping out of this hierarchy and skipping a step subverts democracy by definition.

It doesn't matter to me that 10 miles down the road, there is a town which prohibits alcohol sales. Just like it doesn't matter to some guy in East Bumblefuck, Nevada that prostitution is legal in Vegas. That's democracy, and states shouldn't be subverting it by dictating to incorporated municipalities, a practice more commonly known as Totalitarian Socialism.

[edited]

joe procopio
5.27.04 @ 3:19p

Here we go. Call for EU-wide junk food ban.



matt morin
5.27.04 @ 3:44p

Well, it's only a ban on advertising. And it sounds like they're mostly concerned with advertising directed towards children.

They already ban cigarette ads on TV here in the U.S. How is this any different?

dan gonzalez
5.27.04 @ 3:57p

Perhaps because cigarettes contain nicotine, a dangerously addictive CNS stimulant, and food does not?

mike julianelle
5.27.04 @ 3:58p

Nice job not writing a 16 paragraph response, Dan. You're doing it!

matt morin
5.27.04 @ 3:59p

You ever had a McDonald's Shamrock Shake? Mmmm...those things are addictive.

russ carr
5.27.04 @ 4:08p

From CNN.com...right now!

A businessman sued the promoters of the Atkins Diet and the estate of founder Dr. Robert Atkins, alleging that the low-carb, high-fat meal plan clogged his arteries and threatened his health.

The suit by Jody Gorran, filed Wednesday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, seeks $15,000.

Gorran, 53, said Thursday he started the diet in May 2001 because his weight had risen from 140 to 148 pounds. In two months, he said, his cholesterol rose from a normal 146 to an unhealthy 230, and by October 2003, he needed heart angioplasty to clear his arteries.

"I came very close to dying, and this is from a diet I thought was marvelous," said Gorran.

Editor's note: Hey, dumbfuck. what did you expect?!

dan gonzalez
5.27.04 @ 4:09p

Nice job not writing a 16 paragraph response, Dan. You're doing it!

Smart

Ass

From

Boston

Must

Learn

To

Shut

His

Big

Mouth

Or

Get

Ready

To

Rumble

[edited]

matt morin
6.15.04 @ 12:18p

Bump.

I just read this today on Salon.com. This sounds like something the Onion would run:

The Frozen Potato Products Institute appealed to the USDA in 2000 to change its definition of fresh produce under PACA to include batter-coated, frozen french fries, arguing that rolling potato slices in a starch coating, frying them and freezing them is the equivalent of waxing a cucumber or sweetening a strawberry.

The USDA agreed and, on June 2, 2003, the agency amended its PACA rules to include what is described in court documents as the 'Batter-Coating Rule.

sarah ficke
6.15.04 @ 12:27p

If it's frozen, it's not fresh. Now, if I pull a potato out of my garden and coat it in batter, then it is fresh.

dan gonzalez
6.15.04 @ 1:03p

Hmm... Well, that's..., Hmm...

sloan bayles
6.15.04 @ 4:13p

There's a Frozen Potato Products Institute?!

lisa r
6.15.04 @ 8:38p

Actually, if you're a piece of meat, chicken, or fish and you're frozen, you aren't frozen--you're hard-chilled. Gotta love semantics in the USDA.

sloan bayles
6.16.04 @ 10:44a

Hard chilled, just how I like my margaritas :)

dan gonzalez
6.18.04 @ 11:09a

Heh. Looks like the Irish ban doesn't apply to certain moral crusaders. It must be nice to have the morals forced on others be completely flexible for yourself.

russ carr
8.16.06 @ 10:29a

Bump.

It's been going on all summer here in St. Louis, but I hadn't gotten the itch to investigate 'til a drive-by this morning. McDonald's has been pushing a "Hugo-sized" drink (I don't know what the volume of the thing is, but it's bigger than their 'large') for just 89 cents. That's 11 cents cheaper than their 'small' drink size. Faced with that kind of economic logic, who can say no to "Hugo-sizing" their bubbly beverage?

As Joe so presciently stated, McDonald's got rid of the term 'supersized.' They didn't get rid of supersizing.

I just wish they'd gotten Jorge Garcia to be the spokesmodel for this promo.



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