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Fat Profits
June 1, 2008 2:01 PM   Subscribe

"After a period of collective indigestion induced by the 2004 documentary Super Size Me and the 2001 book Fast Food Nation and its subsequent film adaptation, much of the industry is returning to its traditional customers—men—and its traditional food—meat—served up in ever-greater quantities. Although CKE's signature behemoths—the Carl's Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger and Hardee's Monster Thickburger, both introduced in 2004—out-calorie all comers, Burger King narrowed the gap with its Triple Whopper With Cheese (2005); Wendy's unveiled the Baconator (2007)...and Taco Bell awakened the industry to new possibilities with its 2006 campaign, which urged customers to enjoy a "fourth meal" each day."
posted by Pater Aletheias (89 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interestingly, at the same time McDonald's in Europe is "reinventing the hamburger" and has come up with "Le M" (or "Der M" in Germany) for consumers that explicitly want something smaller but that tastes better:

“For a long time, quantity had been a really big thing in our industry. Now people were telling us they wanted a tastier product [more] than lots of product,” Knezevic says. “They wanted quality over quantity. We discovered people were looking for authenticity.”
posted by patricio at 2:09 PM on June 1, 2008


I heard KFC was working on Fried Chicken Finger Suppositories, for those times when your mouth is too full to shove anything else in.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:14 PM on June 1, 2008 [13 favorites]


Asia has the Mega Mac.
posted by phunniemee at 2:19 PM on June 1, 2008


We discovered people were looking for authenticity.

Guess that's why they added meatballs to the menu in Sweden.
posted by effbot at 2:20 PM on June 1, 2008


Asia has the Mega Mac.

We have it in Canada, too, as the Double Big Mac.

I've got a hankerin' for a road trip to the US of A, where I can get a properly gigantic fast food burger. One of those double sirloin burgers from Jack-in-the-Box, maybe, followed up by a Six Dollar Burger.

And any vegetarians who come in to shit on this thread will be ground up, charbroiled, and eaten.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:25 PM on June 1, 2008


Oh, the Baconator is far from the calorie champ at Wendy's. You can order a grand slam with cheese and bacon. 1 lb (pre cooking mass) hamburger, three slices cheese, and a couple strips of bacon. I used to get an order for one about once a month.
posted by Mitheral at 2:25 PM on June 1, 2008


Asia has the Mega Mac.

Why don't we get the Mega Mac?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:28 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dag, now I'm hungry.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:29 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


They obviously don't know about Elevensees.

Worst (best) burger I've had is a 1 pound cheesburger on a sub roll served, for a while, at a local Greek joint.
posted by cowbellemoo at 2:31 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Clearly this is proof obesity is genetic.

Wait. What?
posted by tkchrist at 2:33 PM on June 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I didn't even know about the Wendy's grand slam until just now (googled it).

The thing is, though, the Wendy's single is clearly the best, because it has the right ratio of meat to other stuff. The double is edible, but the triple is just way too much meat.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:33 PM on June 1, 2008


Fried Chicken Finger Suppositories?
posted by ChickenringNYC at 2:35 PM on June 1, 2008


McDonald's used to Dino-Size your meal when Jurassic Park came out; meaning you could turn a Double Quarter Pounder into a straight-up Pounder. That link also talks about the McJordan they used to have- because nothing evokes the athleticism and physical fitness of Michael Jordan like a cheeseburger with onion rings and BBQ sauce on it.

Ah what the hell, here are a couple of guys taking the Octo Stacker challenge- basically Burger King will hook you up with 8 patties, 9 pieces of cheese and 16 pieces of bacon.

But fast food ain't got nothin on sit-down restaurants- Chili's Awesome Blossom keeps it real with over 2,700 calories, over 6,300 mg of sodium; and twice the fat of the Double $6 Burger. Put another way, it's the equivalent of 67 slices of bacon.
posted by Hiding From Goro at 2:40 PM on June 1, 2008


I used to get an order for one about once a month.

Just enough time to digest it. The Baconator is one of those legends of fast food where only a select few have dared to indulge in its immensity. It's also one of those burgers where immediately after you eat it you think, "why the fuck did I just eat that?"
posted by ageispolis at 2:41 PM on June 1, 2008


I think it is somewhat interesting to observe these trends as waistlines ever-increase, though you can't blame the fast-food industry for catering to this demographic, and trying to expand it ever-further.

Marketing is obnoxious, insidious, awfully effective stuff designed to convince people to buy things they don't need.

Our obligation is to make sure our kids are smart enough to be repulsed by such things, or, to find them amusing from a distance while maintaining a balanced outlook on reasonable eating, perhaps even indulging from time to time in such things knowing exactly what it means to eat 2-3,000 calories in a sitting and how one might be able to accomodate such a massive indulgence from time to time.

Given enough education and dietary diversity insofar as being exposed to far superior foods throughout childhood, one would hope to have children that don't crave gigantic burgers at all. But, in my own experience, no matter how much I enjoy a varied diet and treasure exotic cuisines from a number of cultures, I can't escape the urge to chow down on a big-ass chili-cheese-burger from time to time; we're up against years of research and this shit's been designed to appeal to massive swaths of the population.

I always understood that the largest profit margins were in soft drinks and I find it strange that these strategies are so effective. They need to draw people in in large numbers; shouldn't matter whether they kinda-sorta-pigout or go to town on a double-double-super-duper-sized-quantum-death-galaxy-meal...but this would seem to betray the fact that their core demographic (people who eat fast food multiple times per week) simply need some help deciding where the most ginormous offerings are to be found.

The whole fundamental "vote with your dollars" mentality seems reasonable enough to me in a moderately-to-well-educated society, but unfortunately the same people who most strongly espouse this notion seem to actively work towards undermining our nation's educational system and ensuring that the masses are sufficiently incapable of making informed decisions, ostensibly because they feel that education itself should be a "vote" too, and if you don't have the dollars to vote for a good private education, well here, check out this shitty shit we've got, which we'd really like to eliminate sooner or later, but those pesky libruls insist on keepin' the shit around...how's that workin'? Turns out that havin' lots of dollars before you're even born is the best way to ensure a successfuly lifetime of dollar-votin' action.
posted by lordaych at 2:42 PM on June 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


What I'm glad about is that some burger places are starting to recognize that all these beef monsters have totally wrong meat to bun ratio (as Dr. Steve mentioned about fast food up above). One of the reasons people in NYC love Shake Shack so much is that its a well-made burger that is also the correct size (and I don't mean for health reasons, as I pair one of their cheeseburgers with friees and a black and white shake).
posted by Bookhouse at 2:47 PM on June 1, 2008


Harold: I want 30 sliders, 5 french fries, and 4 large cherry cokes.
Kumar: I want the same except make mine diet cokes.
posted by not applicable at 2:48 PM on June 1, 2008


ten pounds of inedita: "any vegetarians who come in to shit on this thread will be ground up, charbroiled, and eaten."

I'm vegetarian, I've come to shit in this thread, and I can tell you that my poos are sinkers, not floaters, and that's A Good Thing for a quick eyeball of your lipid metabolism.
posted by meehawl at 2:57 PM on June 1, 2008


Let the buyer beware. All the hand wringing in the world isn't going to change the fact that some people enjoy eating this garbage several times a week, and as long as those people exist, we'll have plenty of artery-clogging monster burgers available to us. Every now and then I just have a powerful urge to go through a drive through and get some fast food breakfast on the way home from work (I work nights). I don't want anyone sticking their hands in the situation and taking all the fun out of my grease breakfast. I take my health pretty seriously and make sure to get some sort of exercise every day and I haven't suffered a bit because of some fast food. People that got fat because of McDonald's don't need to be protected; they need to take responsibility for their own well being.
posted by TrialByMedia at 3:02 PM on June 1, 2008


You know what I do to make my co-workers bug-out at lunch time? I tell them I don't eat fast food. It blows their effen minds!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:02 PM on June 1, 2008


I can tell you that my poos are sinkers

Weird. My poops are swimmers. You can tell they're mine by the dorsal fins.
posted by tkchrist at 3:04 PM on June 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I enjoy fast food. But the Baconator is just too much. Can't finish one. (Admittedly, I only tried it once, and that was more than enough.)

The Hardee's Six Dollar burger, OTOH, is fucking delicious. I think it's their use of sweet bread-and-butter pickles instead of dill pickles that makes the difference.

(Is Carl Jr.'s/Hardee's the fast food equivalent of Hellmann's/Best Foods Mayonnaise? Like, cross the Mississippi and the name changes but the product is the same?)

A few nights ago I went out on a late-night food run and ended up at Taco Hell. I ordered (I thought) the grilled stuffed burrito with chicken. What I received was wrapped like a chili and cheese burrito, yet tasted like neither chili, cheese, chicken, steak or beef. I have no idea what was in the damn thing.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:06 PM on June 1, 2008


To be fair, that used to be Taco Bell's slogan: "You Have No Idea What Was In The Damn Thing."
posted by arto at 3:17 PM on June 1, 2008


A fourth meal? Of fast food?

Sometimes I think corporations should be held responsible for their marketing and advertising beyond just false advertising lawsuits. Is this very different from a cigarette advertisement?

And to the vote with your dollars folks: Yes, it is a good strategy for those who can afford to do so. As for people who have to watch their pennies more carefully, don't have time (for legitimate reasons, like work) to cook, and don't have many options in their area, fast food is the only viable choice. Voting with dollars is not enough.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 3:21 PM on June 1, 2008


When I eat fast food, it's usually a Double Whopper With Cheese. Seeing Fast Food Nation has got me to (almost) quit like I'd been meaning to for years, but sometimes it's just, like, aw, fuck it. Whoppers is delicious. I can hardly even taste the fæces.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:23 PM on June 1, 2008


daaaaaaang
posted by danb at 3:35 PM on June 1, 2008


I just slow-roasted a 5 lb. duckling on the grill. We chewed on the crispy fatty duck skin, saved the drippings in the fridge for future frying, and are now making stock out of the carcass.

We all like our fat; some just like it more shelf-stable than others.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:51 PM on June 1, 2008


Hurf durf burger eaters.
posted by Tube at 3:52 PM on June 1, 2008


one would hope to have children that don't crave gigantic burgers at all. But, in my own experience, no matter how much I enjoy a varied diet and treasure exotic cuisines from a number of cultures,

I'm glad I'm somehow able to enjoy a varied diet and exotic cuisines as well as enjoy a bacon mozzarella burger (decent, not fast food, of course) without feeling guilty about it.

If you want a real fast food challenge, try to drink? eat? 20 fluid ounces of ketchup. (Fill a 20 oz. bottle, use a slurpee straw.) I only made it to about 18 and at that point it was somewhat psychoactive.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:53 PM on June 1, 2008


It's funny how you rarely hear this kind of stuff about carbonera, alfreado, curries or steak. Perhaps because we aren't sure enough of their evil to be able to get moralistic about it.
posted by srboisvert at 4:04 PM on June 1, 2008


Burger King narrowed the gap with its Triple Whopper With Cheese (2005);

If you've been to Burger King lately, you'll find they have a Loaded Steakhouse Burger that puts the Triple Whopper to shame.

Yes, you read that right: It has a layer of mashed potatoes with chives. That damn thing is delicious.

Of course, I only order it with a half coke/half diet-coke, because I gotta watch the figure.


(Seriously, tho, around these parts, nothing beats a Butterburger from Culver's).
posted by thanotopsis at 4:14 PM on June 1, 2008


I wasn't logged into metafilter at the time of reading this thread, and this was the sponsored link. weird.
posted by sswiller at 4:29 PM on June 1, 2008


As for people who have to watch their pennies more carefully, don't have time (for legitimate reasons, like work) to cook, and don't have many options in their area, fast food is the only viable choice.

I don't know about that. Making a sandwich and putting it in a paper bag is cheaper than fast food and takes less time than a trip though the drive through.
posted by the jam at 4:36 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember the first time I saw the Baconator billboard last summer. I remember thinking, damn, that thing should totally be brandishing a sidearm in a careless and menacing manner, like it was kind of drunkenly threatening to put a cap in your punk ass if you dared say shit about how much saturated fat it was about to ram down your colon. Must've been the camera angle and lighting.

I have to assume, in any case, that the effect was intentional. Especially since, last week alone, two guys wandering out late in a big-box plaza near here were killed in separate involuntary peristaltic incidents. Remember, though: Highly processed beef patties don't kill people; aggressive niche marketing kills people. With bacon.
posted by gompa at 4:39 PM on June 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


followed up by a Six Dollar Burger.

That's become a regular stop when I make an American road trip.

You can order a grand slam

Is that a "secret" menu item? I've never heard of it. (I do think I should draw the line at a one-pounder, though.)
posted by evilcolonel at 4:46 PM on June 1, 2008


Mark Bittman: What's wrong with what we eat (TEDTalks video, 20 minutes) [via AmericaBlog]

ten pounds of inedita : "any vegetarians who come in to shit on this thread will be ground up, charbroiled, and eaten."

Eat me
posted by Auden at 4:49 PM on June 1, 2008


I wonder, has anyone indulged in a Taco Bell 'fourthmeal' sober?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:52 PM on June 1, 2008


Why would anyone order this crap when you can head down to In-n-Out and get a double-double with grilled onions for under $3? They're so good I could eat 3. (But I don't).
posted by Justinian at 4:54 PM on June 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I think corporations should be held responsible for their marketing and advertising beyond just false advertising lawsuits.

Fuck that. Do you want the government to regulate your bed time for you as well? What kind of society will we live in when people are not considered smart enough to freely choose what they eat for lunch everyday? People eat fast food because they want to, not because evil corporations trick them into it. The same applies to people who pay too much for car insurance, or who drink bottled water when they don't have to, or who buy things from Best Buy. The onus is on the consumer to choose where to spend their money. If some people want to make and sell fat laden fat burgers for fat people, and then some other people want to buy and eat those burgers, then good on both of 'em. It's ridiculous to hold a company responsible for making a desirable product.
posted by tracert at 5:05 PM on June 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was gonna post that 100x100 picture. Apparently, In N Out will make NxN of whatever number.

As a good ole god-fearing, freedom-loving American, I'm generally for letting people eat whatever the hell they want, but if citizens also *really* want things like socialized medicine (er, sorry, single-payer health care), I think it's valid to regulate the marketing of these sorts of semi-dangerous foods. There's a trade-off. If it's a battle of the evolutionary diets, bring it.

If we want something like a happy medium, the FDA could regulate that every wrapper list the nutritional information for the sandwich. On the other hand, that could lead to unnecessary paper use, and the resources required to print all of that information multiple times, etc. Perhaps I'm demonstrating why government always fails.

only one fast-food company can make them fat and allow them to feel good about it, even get them to feel like they're making a statement and striking a blow against the forces of political correctness

Are people that easily hoodwinked? I suppose that's a stupid question. "Hey, PC police, suck on my baconator!"

Last thought: how do you think Del Taco (or, on preview, In N Out) can sell a Triple Del (52 grams of fat, 720 calories) for $2.99? Where does that $3/lb. meat come from? What sort of environment damage and resource waste is going on to create that cheap meat? Does that matter?

Disclaimer: I am, duh, a vegetarian. Most rational, god-fearing, freedom-loving Americans are. If I shit in your thread, you wouldn't even know it, because my poo is odorless. And my cum tastes like champagne.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:12 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a reason that there is millions and millions of dollars spent on advertising. And that reason isn't to educate consumers as to their many options when exercising their free will. Advertising doesn't brainwash, but it wouldn't be done if it didn't strongly influence. If your influence leads to detrimental effects... why should you not be held accountable?
posted by the jam at 5:17 PM on June 1, 2008


Bacon Burger. I was tempted to post this in the Sex and the City thread, actually. I still might.
posted by ooga_booga at 5:20 PM on June 1, 2008


mrgrimm: I dunno about Del Taco or whatever, but in-n-out gets the beef in chucks and removes the bones themselves, grinds the beef, and makes it into patties out here in Baldwin Park. The beef is about as fresh as you're going to find in a fast food joint.

As to environmental damage, well, I don't drive much and walk to a lot of places. The grocery store is just up the street. I don't commute. I live in a 19 unit dwelling. I'll put my lifestyle with occasional burger up against most vegetarians any day of the week. Yeah, maybe they don't eat meat but they drive fifty miles a day and live in a detached single family home. So, no, I don't think they are particularly good for the environment.
posted by Justinian at 5:20 PM on June 1, 2008


Why would anyone order this crap when you can head down to In-n-Out
Because we don't all live in California.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:21 PM on June 1, 2008


The Double Pounder.
posted by Jimbob at 5:23 PM on June 1, 2008


Holy shit, The Triple Pounder.
posted by Jimbob at 5:24 PM on June 1, 2008


Most rational, god-fearing, freedom-loving Americans are.

Sit down and be quiet Hillary.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:25 PM on June 1, 2008


The Wendy's Spicy Baconator is a delight.

I'm going to plug Five Guys, though. They used to be DC only, but now they're all up and down the east coast. Cheeseburgers the way they should be.
posted by empath at 5:31 PM on June 1, 2008


srboisvert writes "It's funny how you rarely hear this kind of stuff about carbonera, alfreado, curries or steak. Perhaps because we aren't sure enough of their evil to be able to get moralistic about it"

Man there used to be nothing like a Norm's 20oz porterhouse with potatoes and vegatables after a day of really working, Something like stacking bales or moving a legal office {nothing but box after box full of either paper or books}. All you'd have to go is call him up and tell him when you'd be there and he'd have a couple thousand calories ready exactly how you liked it.

Ok, now I'm drooling

Justinian writes "Why would anyone order this crap when you can head down to In-n-Out and get a double-double with grilled onions for under $3?"

No In-n-Out in Canada.

evilcolonel writes "Is that a 'secret' menu item? I've never heard of it. (I do think I should draw the line at a one-pounder, though.)"

Sort of, some places have it on the menu board in small print but I've never seen it on the drive thru menu. It used to be listed on nutritional sheets but I see it's not there now.
posted by Mitheral at 5:32 PM on June 1, 2008


Goddamn, they are opening a Five Guys seven blocks from my house. Doom, all is doom.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:52 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was talking with the gf about this, and we started wondering if these commercials are less sleazy than some because they're less dishonest ... that is to say, instead of implying that beautiful women will have sex with you if you drink the correct mass-marketed brand of beer, they are simply advertising that they are selling a massive, artery-clogging, stroke-inducing hunk of processed beef.

But the more we talked about it, the more we realized that they weren't really being honest - the approach was just a little bit more subtle than girls-in-bikinis-licking-beer-drinker. Afer all, the commercials weren't actually using the phrase "massive, artery-clogging, stroke-inducing hunk of processed beef", and any advertiser who suggested it would be quickly fired. Nor were the men in most of these commercials in general obese (with the possible exception of the actors playing construction workers. Why is that?)

That's when we realized that the actors in these commercials, are, almost invariably, men. That these commercials are promulgating the idea that and/or taking advantage of the fact that these products are culturally gendered. Essentially, it's the exact same thing as the yogurt commercials that were discussed in a thread here a few weeks ago, except pointed at the other gender.

It's not subtle; many of the commercials pretty much outright say, "Manly men who are manly eat manly food such as our large manly hunks of manly meat." They're not advertising the notion of big fat obese guys stuffing themselves with burgers; they're selling the idea of large muscly men who eat big meals with lots of calories because they're MEN (with the possible unspoken implication that they need the calories to feed the massive muscles they've developed bench-pressing automobiles all day long.)

So I think these commercials are actually jacking into something in the human psyche a little more poignant and subtle than what people in the "LOL people who buy stuff advertised on TeeVee" crowd are giving them credit for. Gender identification and insecurity are powerful advertising tools.

Even very intelligent women fall prey to the meme that Women Don't Eat / Women Should Eat Less / Women Eat Yogurt. Women who are reading this, how many of you feel completely comfortable obviously eating the most food at a group luncheon? So I suspect that men, even intelligent men, can likewise fall prey to the fairly widespread cultural notion that Men Eat Meat / Men Eat Lots Of Food / Men Like Their Food Fried And Sneer At Diets. (Note: obviously there are many actual exceptions among real people on both sides, with many women who love their meat and many men who love their yogurt. But I'm speaking of cultural perception, which does not correlate one-to-one with reality.)

So, in the grand scheme of things, these commercials are probably roughly equivalent to the Marlboro Man that associated Marlboro Cigarettes with the manly manliness of cowboys and avoided mention of lung cancer et cetera. Some types of cigarette advertisements are now illegal. Should they be, and will these types of food advertisements someday be? I'm not sure, and what happens will depend mostly on the way general social trends evolve in the next few decades.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting.
posted by kyrademon at 5:59 PM on June 1, 2008 [11 favorites]


I loooove the name Baconator. Marketing genius. Having read Fast Food Nation, I try to avoid hamburger, esp. cheap fastfood hamburger. I try not to obsess too much about my poo. thanks for listening.
posted by theora55 at 6:02 PM on June 1, 2008


Fuck that. Do you want the government to regulate your bed time for you as well? What kind of society will we live in when people are not considered smart enough to freely choose what they eat for lunch everyday?

I think this falls under the "poison well" analogy.

There's no reason to pass a law to tell people not to piss in their own wells. That's just common sense. Anybody who came on your land aiming to tell you where to piss is just causing trouble, and you're well within your rights to chase em off with a shotgun. By this same logic, if Farmer Ted pisses in his water bucket, there's no need to chastise him, he's gotta drink his own waste, and that's punishment enough. If he offers you a glass of water when visiting, you politely decline, and all's well with the world.

The second Farmer Ted starts selling his water in the town square, the sheriff has a right to pull him aside have a word with him...

"Hey Ted, It's a real hot day, and this is a nice setup you got here under this shade tree with the big block of ice, and the gumdrops for the kids. Everyone really could use a cool drink of water, so maybe you might want to refrain from pissing in the water jug right out her in front of god and everybody. Otherwise I'm gonna have to ask you to clear out and let The Ladies Church Auxiliary handle the refreshments from here on out. And nobody wants that, cause let's face it Ted, You know and I know they're a bunch of uptight hags, and if they had their way, we'd have to close down the saloon."

That's pretty much my entire position on government regulation, fast food or otherwise...
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:23 PM on June 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I got a Baconator once by accident, since its combo meal number suddenly replaced the one I used to get (the Big Bacon Classic, which was basically just a single with bacon) and I wasn't paying attention. It was the most vile burger I ever ate, and I didn't even make it halfway through. A burger at least needs to have some lettuce or ketchup or something, not just greasy slabs of beef and pork slapped between a bun.

Some old friends of mine (brothers) that I haven't seen in a while always special ordered burgers with only meat and bread because "I don't want that fuckin' rabbit food". They had also never had Chinese food, and probably any other sort of cuisine besides American and Tex-Mex, in their entire lives, and had no desire to try it. Weird dudes. They probably love the Baconator, though.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:24 PM on June 1, 2008


if you let the government into the kitchen, don't complain when it wants to hang out in the bedroom, too
posted by pyramid termite at 6:47 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


DecemberBoy: I did something similar when I was a kid.

I hate to admit it, but I would order Taco Bell corn tortilla Tacos. Hold the cheese. Hold the lettuce. Hold the tomatoes. No sour cream or salsa. Yes, I would chow down on like a dozen Taco Bell corn tortillas with nothing but that fake Taco Bell meat in them.

I feel slightly ill just thinking about it now.
posted by Justinian at 6:49 PM on June 1, 2008


SA on the Baconator (3rd one down)
posted by anthill at 6:52 PM on June 1, 2008


This brought to mind a passage from the memoirs of my great-great-grandfather, who grew up fairly poor on a German farm. Meat wasn't scarce to the point of being a luxury, but was rare enough that one appreciated what one had, and used it to the best of one's ability. Since I have a copy of those memoirs at hand, allow me to transcribe:

"At butchering time little or nothing was wasted. Pigs knuckles (with the "shoes" pulled off the toes) were fine with sauerkraut. Sausage casings were made out of the intestines. Noses, ears, and brains were very fine eating. Blood sausage was good. After salt-curing, hams, side meat and jowls and sausage were simply hung under the ceiling above the threshing floor where smoke from the hearth fire cured them without further trouble ... the fat side-meat was mostly eaten raw or plain boiled. In that rather damp cold climate your system needed a good deal of fat."

Now, I've got no problem with fat - used correctly, it's a tremendous source of flavor. Yet despite any squeamishness I may have about eating certain parts of the animal (ears are mostly cartilage and hair...), I've got to admit that I'd probably be more likely to eat any of those secondary pig-parts than a Carl's Junior burger. Life's too short for cheap, low-grade meat, especially when it's used as a condiment to mask the taste of even more low-grade meat.
posted by Graygorey at 7:16 PM on June 1, 2008


Rather than irresponsible corporations vs. duped consumers, my theory is that the true source of the problem is biological. In general, I would wager that people are biologically driven to seek out high-energy foods. Certainly, multiple studies have shown that infants prefer sugary/high calorie food sources. Because ensuring adequate caloric intake is so important, it would not surprise me if there is a built-in pathway that causes us to both enjoy and remember high-calorie meals more intensely, so that we're more motivated to seek out similar food sources in the future. Once you've had one Monster Thickburger, you're more likely to crave another one next week, and you're more likely to gradually develop a taste for similar foods over time. This also means you're most likely more susceptible to advertisements for high-calorie foods, because these lead you to remember/crave similar meals you've consumed in the past.

If you buy the first part of the theory, it becomes easier to see how we may have gotten into this mess in the first place. Because a disproportionate number of customers at restaurants are repeat customers with a taste for higher-calorie items, higher-calorie items tend to sell better than lower-calorie ones, leading restaurants to stock more of these items and advertise them more heavily, leading to increased consumption, ultimately creating a feedback loop. I'm sure that there are individual, cultural, and biological limitations which intervene at some point, but for the average American, the net result is that restaurants are driven to offer worse and worse choices, and consumers are driven to select the worst choice available.
posted by OrlandoFurioso at 7:26 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


DecemberBoy writes "A burger at least needs to have some lettuce or ketchup or something, not just greasy slabs of beef and pork slapped between a bun."

Just as an FYI: When your not ordering by accident Wendy's will make even a Baconator any way you want. You can add lettuce, tomatoes, and onions at no cost. The only thing that is a pain in the least is a no salt burger but they'll make you that too. It just means you'll be waiting the 5 minutes it takes a burger to cook.
posted by Mitheral at 7:32 PM on June 1, 2008


if you let the government into the kitchen, don't complain when it wants to hang out in the bedroom, too

So you think marital rape should be legal? Curious. (See, I can play false dichotomies, too!)

Good point, Kyradaemon. It's pretty obvious that Carls Jr's is playing on a man's sense of manliness ("Only real men can eat this much meat and say "Fuck you" to whomever says they can't!"), which is why it's so funny to see how the commercials actually play out in real life.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:57 PM on June 1, 2008


A fourth meal? Of fast food?

Sometimes I think corporations should be held responsible for their marketing and advertising beyond just false advertising lawsuits.


Responsible for what? Letting people who are hungry (or drunk or stoned late at night) know that there's an option for them? Those evil bastards! Anyway, who decided that three meals was A-OK, but promoting four makes you scum?

No thanks on the nanny state. Yet another example of, "Well, I see right through this marketing, but I need to do something for the poor rubes who aren't as insightful as me!"
posted by pardonyou? at 7:58 PM on June 1, 2008


(I just want to quickly say I don't really want the government to "do" anything more to regulate fast food (aside from perhaps change our international trade policies and beef up safety audits)).
posted by mrgrimm at 8:01 PM on June 1, 2008


Put another way, it's the equivalent of 67 slices of bacon.

Nonsense. 67 slices of bacon has NO EQUIVALENT.

In-n-Out does beat all of the burger joints in this thread so far for me, including Shake Shack, which I also like a lot. (Hint to LAX plane-changers: there's a free shuttle bus to and from the closest In-N-Out. Perfect for a 2hr layover.)

I can't speak for Five Guys... I'll have to find one of those while I still have arteries.
posted by rokusan at 8:07 PM on June 1, 2008


Obligatory Super Sized Meals link - this is where I go for my vicarious food porn. As a vegetarian, OMG LOOK HOW MUCH TOFU HE'S EATING just doesn't have the same sort of enjoyment as seeing someone try to eat a 55 pound burger.
posted by jtron at 8:13 PM on June 1, 2008


I wonder, has anyone indulged in a Taco Bell 'fourthmeal' sober?

I have, but then again, I've struggled with obesity for most of my adult life, sooooo I might be atypical.

Good news, though: I've been getting serious about loosing weight recently. I've lost 15 lbs in the past month-and-a-half, and plan to keep it up for as long as I can. My biggest secret so far is........(drumroll)......cutting out the fast food.

So I brought a healthy choice low-calorie dinner and a V8 to lunch at work today. What did my co-workers bring, you ask? Whataburger. The only fast food joint in the lower 48 that, to the best of my knowledge, offers white pork gravy as a condiment.

My body screamed for a bite. Just one little bite of that delicious whataburger and maybe just a few fries with gravy. Thats all I need.....yeah, man, I'll be good if I can just get this one fix.

I think I can honestly say that now I know what it's like to quit smoking, despite never touching a pack of cigs in my life. What a horrible, horrible feeling. I really do believe that there is something about high-calorie, high-fat foods that suppliments some people's brain chemestry to make them desire a Bacon-n-Cheese Whatameal over, say, salad. It would explain a lot, I think.
posted by Avenger at 8:38 PM on June 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have tried to eat better for a while now, but I still get a craving for fast food. A few months ago, instead of giving in, I bought a pound of locally raised, grass-fed, lean ground beef. Now, before any of you grizzly men start giggling, I was able to make two of the best burgers I've ever had, mixed thoroughly with homemade blackened rub, cooked medium-rare in a cast iron skillet. I'm not aware of any fast food place that will serve a seasoned, medium-rare burger cooked in cast iron, but I wouldn't trust any of them to do that anyway. I probably have a burger once every month or two, but when I do, I think it should be worth it. I remember the taste fondly, and without regret, and unlike fast food burgers, it didn't play havoc on my digestive system. Next time it will be grilled, naturally.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:54 PM on June 1, 2008


Super-Size Me (With Whiskey!) [YT]
posted by LarryC at 9:01 PM on June 1, 2008


Justinian writes "I hate to admit it, but I would order Taco Bell corn tortilla Tacos. Hold the cheese. Hold the lettuce. Hold the tomatoes. No sour cream or salsa. Yes, I would chow down on like a dozen Taco Bell corn tortillas with nothing but that fake Taco Bell meat in them.

"I feel slightly ill just thinking about it now."


For what it's worth, the rest has very little nutritional value anyway, except maybe the tomatoes, which have historically been the subject of labor disputes.

I must admit, in my 20s I could eat nearly any sort of fast food and usually preferred the big burgers (no tomatoes, though onions, lettuce, pickles, cheese were OK), but I could never stomach Taco Bell more than once a year or so. Something about it always tastes like lousy cafeteria food to me, like worse than Furr's, probably from memories of eating tacos around once a week for lunch at my elementary school's cafeteria. The taste of the ground meat was distinctive, about the same as Taco Bell. It only tastes good if I'm starving.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:30 PM on June 1, 2008


meat!
posted by Hands of Manos at 9:33 PM on June 1, 2008


You can add lettuce, tomatoes, and onions at no cost. The only thing that is a pain in the least is a no salt burger but they'll make you that too.

Aw jeez, you're not one of those people, are you? "I'd like a Whopper, two tomatoes, no onions, precisely one ounce of ketchup, no mustard, three pickles, heated to 97.2 degrees farenheit..." It's frickin' fast food, the operative word being "fast". Anything more complicated than "number (x) with a (drink)" just slows it down for everyone else, and you're likely to just get the first burger they grab from under the heat lamp anyway.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:14 PM on June 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wendy's makes to order, burgers aren't put under the lamp.

Asking for lettuce and tomatoes on a burger costs essentially no time unless someone is being foolishly anal retentive specific. Like I said the only thing that disrupts the flow is a no salt burger. That because the grill man has to clean a spot on the grill and then babysit the meat until it's done rather than the regular right to left flow. When things are busy a good crew can make sandwiches faster than they can be ordered/payed for. IE: the bottle neck is the cashier.

PS: you can't sell hamburgers "heated" to 97.2 degrees, salmonella/E. Colli you know.
posted by Mitheral at 10:30 PM on June 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Goddamn, they are opening a Five Guys seven blocks from my house. Doom, all is doom.

They're good. You buy a take-out bag of fries, and by the time you get home, you can see through the bag, there's so much grease. God bless this awesome country.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 PM on June 1, 2008


if you let the government into the kitchen, don't complain when it wants to hang out in the bedroom, too

Unsurprisingly, it stays out of the bathroom.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 PM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll just have a failure pile in a sadness bowl.
posted by PenDevil at 12:55 AM on June 2, 2008


Oh man, DecemberBoy, watch out. I made pretty much the exact same comment as you did in a fast-food related thread some months ago - I believe in regards to coffee rather than burgers - and was slapped down so hard I've still got the bruising. Some people are sensitive little fucks.
posted by Jimbob at 2:11 AM on June 2, 2008


So, in the grand scheme of things, these commercials are probably roughly equivalent to the Marlboro Man that associated Marlboro Cigarettes with the manly manliness of cowboys and avoided mention of lung cancer et cetera.

Did you write this Jack in the Box ad?
posted by Jakey at 2:25 AM on June 2, 2008


I think I should start a thread bashing Wimpy and Little Chef. Man, they suck. They suuuuuuuuuuuuuuck like a Dyson. Fucking horrible.

You know you're in a bad restaurant when you're pining for a Bob Evans.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:25 AM on June 2, 2008


"What I tell people about fast food is it's great if you're in a hurry - to die,"

Brilliant.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:14 AM on June 2, 2008


This thread is causing my Angina pectoris to act up.

Somebody call a doctor.
posted by chillmost at 3:36 AM on June 2, 2008


The only problem with eating a Monster Thickburger is that three days later you're hungry again.
posted by eratus at 4:15 AM on June 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


This thread is timely, considering this Washington Post article that just came out. Apparently a restaurant in the area (Bethesda's "The Burger Joint") has a special: 'If you can finish the monster burger, which totals more than 15 pounds with bun and toppings (and comes with a bottle of Maalox!), the house will pick up the $79.99 tab -- a financial bargain if not a dietary one."
posted by inigo2 at 7:01 AM on June 2, 2008


"It's the size of a boogie-board!"
posted by Sys Rq at 7:22 AM on June 2, 2008


While in England, the wife and I were introduced to the "Angry Whopper" which in addition to jalapenos and spicy cheddar cheese had all together more personification than we wanted in a burger. So we spent the rest of our trip coming up with our own fastfood sandwiches:

"The Very Disappointed In You Whopper" - Whopper with extra mayo on mayo-flavored bread.
"The Bugfuck Crazy Whopper" - Whopper with hot sauce and thumbtacks
"The McRiddled With Doubt" - Pressed ribmeat slabs that just can't keep it together
"The Whopper That Says It's Your Friend, But Totally Gossips About You Behind Your Back" - Now with extra Ex-lax topping.
"The BigMac Paddywhack" - Is an Orangeman
"Chicken McNugents" - It's just a small compound bow with a note saying "Kill What You Eat"
"The Quarter Pounder With Sad" - A quarter pounder with a picture of a puppy on the bun with a caption reading "I hopes I find peoples that loves me before I goes to the Vets for Long Nap Times."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:26 AM on June 2, 2008 [14 favorites]


Holy crap robocop, that was water-on-the-keyboard funny. Bravo. (Chicken McNugents was my fave.)
posted by jennaratrix at 1:09 PM on June 2, 2008


Of course, the manliest thing to do would be to eat no critter that you haven't killed yourself, preferably in a contest of man vs. beast that required some degree of courage.

Handing a teenager six dollars and receiving a hunk of flesh harvested by a 50-year old Guatemalan woman in Chicago would make you a little *less* manly.

Want to really show off? The most vulgar display of power is mercy. See also: "Friendship. Flawless Victory." (MKII) Animals suffer. We don't need to eat them to survive. To do so is cruel. Cruelty is the earmark of the bully, not the hero.

The best part? Chicks love it, even omnivorous ones.
posted by vegetarian at 2:37 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


As to environmental damage, well, I don't drive much and walk to a lot of places. The grocery store is just up the street. I don't commute. I live in a 19 unit dwelling. I'll put my lifestyle with occasional burger up against most vegetarians any day of the week. Yeah, maybe they don't eat meat but they drive fifty miles a day and live in a detached single family home.

Nice straw man (or some other fallacy. IANAL). Well, if you want to whip it out ... It's nice you don't drive much. I don't drive at all. I bike to work every day, and take public transit when I don't bike. I also live in a multiunit building with about 900 sq. ft. for me, wife, and baby. 2-nil (maybe 3-1) for the vegetarians so far.

Honestly, I don't have much of a problem with people eating the "occasional burger" once a week or something. When eating meat becomes every day, or every meal, that's ridiculous.

There is supposedly a global food shortage, btw. I realize that there's not a direct relationship to eating meat and the food shortage, but it's one of many factors.

We'll need to develop sustainable food practices asap if we want human civilization to survive (without massive famine and war). It's time to move down the food chain, imo.

I have no problem with people getting meat from insects. That's the protein source of the future.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:20 AM on June 3, 2008


Locusts swarms should be harvested.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:24 AM on June 3, 2008


Honestly, I don't have much of a problem with people eating the "occasional burger" once a week or something. When eating meat becomes every day, or every meal, that's ridiculous.

You know what's ridiculous? Eating vegetables everyday. Your selfish vegetarian actions are depleting the worlds supply of vegetables. We need that corn for fuel and sugar, dammit.
posted by tracert at 5:59 PM on June 5, 2008


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