Volume 14, Issue 23 ~ June 8 - June 14, 2006

The World’s Fattest Burgers

The new USDA report doesn’t taste nearly so good

by Matt Makowski

If you’re reading this, there is a 64 percent chance you are overweight. The United States Food and Drug Administration released a report last week with recommendations aimed at restaurants to help curb the nation’s propensity for the pounds.

The 134-page report is chock full of government, industry and academia mumbo jumbo based firmly on the foundation of common sense. For example: “Recommendation 3.3: Foodservice providers should develop, make available, and promote beverage options that help consumers to reduce calorie intake.” Have any of these people ever just ordered a glass of water while out to eat?

Perhaps the brilliance of the Keystone Forum on Away-From-Home Foods Report is its simplicity. On the other hand, a chunk of the recommendations sound like squirrelly ways to garner additional grants. For instance: “Recommendation 4.2: Research by multiple sectors should be conducted on how consumers use nutrition information for away-from-home foods.”

With language like that, I was shocked to learn that it’s already working.

Fast food juggernaut McDonald’s will be releasing a new burger to celebrate the World Cup, the Super-Bowl-World-Series-Stanley-Cup of soccer. Their way of recognizing the sport will come in a 40 percent larger Big Mac entitled World Cup Burger. There aren’t any nutritional statistics out on it yet, but the standard 7.8-ounce Big Mac brings 560 calories to the plate. Based on the statistics available, the World Cup Burger could send 784 through the digestive track.

Considering target calorie intake for most adults is in the 1,600 to 2,000 range, it’s hard to figure out where a nearly 800-calorie burger fits into the diet. Here comes the shocker: The burger is only being sold in England, and possibly select markets in France and Germany. No World Cup Burger for us Americans.

It seems a little odd. Soccer is slowly but surely growing in popularity in the U.S., and the burger is usually deemed better when bigger State-side. So why the McMassive American omission?

Oddly enough, McDonald’s revenue has gone up 30 percent since introducing a healthier salad-pushing menu in America in 2002. The British were less impressed; sales there have been flat since the Mickey D’s style salads were launched.

The house of golden arches appears to see these figures as a sea change in American and possibly European consumerism. Either that, or they got wind of the Keystone Forum Report and heeded its recommendations. I’d bet on the former.

While European soccer fans are noshing on over-sized burgers, what’s a jealous American to do? While cruising the Internet, I found hope for the gluttons on this side of the pond, and it dwells in Sauget, Illinois.

A step below Single-A baseball is Frontier League; in this league there is a team called the Gateway Grizzlies. They play their home games at GSC Ballpark, which is home to hot-tub seats and most likely, the world’s most indulgent burger. It’s a thick cheddar cheeseburger, topped with bacon, and — here comes the kicker — a sliced Krispy Kreme doughnut replacing the bun. At just $4.50 a pop, that comes down to .0045 cents a calorie. That’s right: A 1,000-calorie burger.

The Keystone Forum people won’t be standing in that line.

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