Thingish Things

Nose Against the Bakery Window

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Mar• 30•11

It’s amazing that fast-food restaurants have survived since New York City mandated calorie estimates on their menus.

I haven’t bought a morsel of food at Starbuck’s, for example, since the law took effect.  Same thing at my local Burger King where I bring my daughter to play on a jungle gym once in a while:  Black coffee.  That’s it. There must be others out there who do the same, and that loss of sales must add up.

Who knew that a bagel or a grilled chicken sandwich or an insty-winsty doughnut could pack 150,000 calories? And don’t even peek at the Frappuccinos. Armed with calorie information, it becomes easier to say “no thanks” than to actually order something.

The Daily News has a story out today about restaurants going the other way — those serving food with obscene calorie, fat, and sodium content. Just looking at the pictures will put you on a treadmill. There is the Bacon Maple Sundae and the Fried Cheese Melt at Denny’s; the new KFC sandwich with deep fried chicken breasts replacing the bread; the “Craz-E-Burger,” featuring a bacon cheeseburger between two deep fried Krispy Kreme doughnuts; deep fried pizza; chocolate covered bacon (that sounds good); the “Quadruple Bypass Burger”; the 2,000 calorie Quizznos Tuna Sub, and more. Yes much, much more!

People voluntarily eat this stuff.  How else can one explain it being on a menu. I wonder, though, how many of these items are sold when the nutritional content is posted plainly on the menu. I would love to see comparative sales figures from fast food restaurants in cities with calorie menus and cities without.

I’ve been pretty clear on these pages that I don’t like government over-reach, and I’ve criticized spending taxpayer money on over-the-top public health campaigns.  But I am deeply ambivalent about these  mandated calorie menus. They clearly step over the line of government authority, in my opinion, and I suspect they will cost restaurants millions of dollars in lost revenue every year, but damned if I don’t find them helpful.

I know that makes me a hypocrite, but so be it. It saved me a small fortune at Starbuck’s last year. Although I now see half-sized 150-calorie doughnuts on sale there, which I suppose is the whole point of the government’s exercise.

What’s next?  The Little Mac?



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  1. Karol says:

    Totally agree. I hate it in theory but I never buy anything anymore when the calories are displayed. Obviously the donut at my local bakery has zero calories while the one at Starbucks has 600.

  2. Your Friend says:

    I love it. So true. What I can’t believe is that the prices didn’t stop people first, especially at Starbucks. I was in a hurry recently and bought a scone and a medium beverage at Starbucks. $7.00. $7.00!!! The margin on that sale must be… bigger than I’m capable of calculating, but I figure the ingredients for all of this, including the paper products, could not have cost more than 50 cents. It was flour, tea, milk and water. Absolute robbery. Dang if it wasn’t good though. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I’ll have to check the calorie count next time, apparently the robbery wasn’t enough to stop me from wanting more.

  3. Me says:

    Fried Cheese Melt??!!! Yum.

    But, you’re right; it’s totally changed what I order at Panera Bread. Very helpful.

  4. I’ve got to move back to Brooklyn, Karol!

  5. Karol says:

    Me too! (And we probably are).

  6. […] *Does posted calorie counts (at Starbuck, McDonald’s, etc.) make you eat less food at the establishment doing the posting? One man says yes, and I agree. […]

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