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    Archive for the ‘Burger King’ Category

    3 (More) Examples of Food Industry Deception

    As with computer operating systems or software programs, it is imperative to consistently update your Big Food BS detector.  Below, I decode three of the latest misleading declarations making the rounds.

    Continue Reading »

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    Burger King’s New Breakfast…. Is More Of The Same

    bk-new-breakfast-menu-items-590Hyperbolic press releases, pricey media campaigns, and plenty of advertising fanfare accompanied the recent unveiling of Burger King’s new breakfast menu.  Higher-ups were quick to point out that the addition of these items to the Burger King breakfast lineup  were the company’s “largest menu expansion ever”.  Like, OMG!

    According to Mike Kapitt, the chain’s chief marketing officer for North America, this menu was designed to “compete to be America’s wake-up call”, and he had no doubt the “quality, variety, and value” on the menu would make Burger King the “breakfast destination”.

    If these new items are America’s wake-up call, then the U.S. of A should smash its alarm clock against the wall and keep snoozing.  Let’s dissect the nutritional bombs unveiled by Burger King, from least to most explosive:

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    Weekend Fun: What Would The Holidays Be Without… Burger King?

    burgerking suicide-thumb-450x347Burger King addicts, rejoice?

    Erik Trinidad, creator of The Fancy Fast Food blog, has come up with a holiday ham recipe made solely from… Burger King items.

    You can see the ingredient list — and instructional photographs, which I recommend seeing well after you’ve eaten — here.

    Only Small Bites, however, breaks down the nutritional facts for you.

    There is no indication of how many people this is supposed to serve, but I calculated this for twelve servings.  In that case:

    888 calories
    23 grams (more than a day’s worth) of saturated fat
    1.8 grams trans fat
    1,901 milligrams sodium (more than 3/4 of a day’s worth!)

    Want to know the most disturbing part?  There are individual burgers (not combos that come with fries and a drink; just burgers) at Burger King with even worse nutritional profiles!

    PS: The accompanying photo shows what a Burger King Triple Stack hamburger looks like in real life, without camera tricks.

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    Does A Healthy Breakfast Cost More?

    Ciniminis_260x480I was just perusing Burger King’s website and came across one of their $1 breakfast offerings — a “4-pack of warm, gooey” mini cinnamon buns accompanied by a small container of icing dip.

    This breakfast item adds up to:

    • 490 calories
    • 7 grams saturated fat
    • 39 grams (almost 10 teaspoons) of added sugar
    • 1 gram fiber
    • 400 milligrams sodium

    Then, I started hearing the voices.  You know, the critical voices that claim healthy eating is something only a certain elite group is capable of doing.

    “See, Andy, how can you possibly convince someone to have a healthy breakfast when they can fill up on 490 calories for a mere dollar?”

    Time for some budget-conscious nutrition 101!

    Let’s suppose that, rather than start the day off with this cinnamon bun breakfast, our hypothetical subject instead toasts two slices of 100% whole grain bread, tops each with a tablespoon of peanut butter, and chows down on a banana.

    Based on prices I have seen online as well as in various markets in New York City, I think it is fair to say that one can buy a 20-slice loaf of 100% whole grain bread for $2.89.

    A standard 16-ounce jar of natural peanut butter can be purchased for $3.29 (even less if it’s a generic brand).

    A medium banana sets you back approximately 25 cents.

    Now, for some simple math:

    2 slices of a $2.89 20-slice loaf of bread= 28.9 cents

    2 tablespoons of a $3.29 16-ounce, 28-tablespoon peanut butter jar: 23.5 cents

    Add 25 cents for the banana and you get a grand total of 77 cents for the healthier breakfast (which, by the way, takes no more than 5 minutes to make).

    Even when you consider tax, you are looking at no more than 82 or 83 cents.

    For the record, this is the nutritional breakdown of the healthier breakfast:

    • 515 calories
    • 2.5 grams saturated fat
    • 460 milligrams sodium
    • 11 grams fiber
    • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) added sugar
    • 17 grams protein

    While the sodium count is slightly higher, it is still within reasonable parameters.  Remember, ideally you want a calorie-to-sodium ratio of 1:1.  Hence, 460 milligrams of sodium in a 515-calorie meal is much more acceptable than in a 150-calorie snack.

    Besides, an additional 60 milligrams of sodium are not worth worrying about when the healthier breakfast provides less saturated fat, a lot less added sugar, and significantly more fiber than Burger King’s $1 “value breakfast”.

    More importantly, the healthier breakfast contains higher amounts of magnesium, manganese, monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fats, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.

    In this case, choosing healthy over convenient truly is the better deal.

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    The King Comes Home

    090309-bkfriesIn the mood for Burger King fries?  Forget the drive-thru window!  In a matter of weeks, consumers will need to look no further than their supermarket’s frozen food aisle.

    King Krinkz, the first of three Burger King french fry products due this year, come in an “easy transport frypod.”  The only thing customers need to do is “shake, vent, zap [in the microwave], tap, and rip.”

    Notice that this “single-serve” item contains 4.5 ounces of French fries.  This is slightly larger than a “medium” order (which, up until recently, was the “large” size) of Burger King fries and clocks in at 400 calories.

    Why not sell these in a more reasonable 2.6 ounce (the equivalent to a Burger King “small”) container?

    Sharon Miller, vice president of retail sales for ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, refers to this product as “perfect for today’s busy families.”

    Families?  I was picturing more of a “dude, I’ve totally got the munchies” college-aged target demographic.

    In any case, later this year we’ll be blessed with the launch of King Kolossalz “extra-large crinkle-cut fries.”  Perhaps those will deliver the 580 calories — and 40% of a day’s worth of sodium — in Burger King’s king-size fries.  In a “single-serving” portion, of course.

    Many thanks to Corey Clark for sending me this news item.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    bowl+of+vanilla+ice+creamA study led by Brian Wansink and published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that subjects served themselves 31 percent more ice cream in a 34 ounce bowl than in a 17 ounce bowl.

    By the way, some of these subjects were nutrition professionals!  No one is immune from portion distortion.

    I find these studies fascinating because they frame the discussion of caloric consumption and obesity from a model that is simultaneously subconscious (when asked, subjects didn’t think they had served themselves more in the 34 ounce bowls) and environmental (if a self-serve ice cream bar only offers 34-ounce bowls, customers will serve themselves — and eat — larger quantities of ice cream).

    This is precisely why “personal choice” is not always a relevant argument when talking about healthier eating.

    Food companies love to wash their hands by saying customers always have choices.

    Consider, though, the following example.

    Burger King recently announced the “elimination” of King Size fries (580 calories and 40% of a day’s worth of sodium).

    I say “elimination” because the King Size fries are still available — they are now called “large”!  Similarly, what used to be “large” is now “medium” and what used to be “medium” is now “small.”  These details were barely publicized.

    Keep in mind that Brian Wansink’s studies have also shown that most people tend to not register fullness until they empty their plate, no matter how extreme a portion they were served.

    How, then, do consumers have “choice” when they are unknowingly served an additional 100 or 120 calories?

    Similarly, a dining hall chooses to order one bowl size for the self-serve ice cream station.

    The best take-away lesson from these studies is that the size of serving dishes matter.  If you are trying to lose weight, implement the use of smaller plates and utensils — especially with high-calorie items.

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    In The News: Explain Something To Me, Bro…

    CChearingNJ_303Lost amidst the sea of shocking celebrity obituaries last week week was Nick Jonas’ diabetes-related visit to the White House.

    In case you just awoke from a two-year slumber,  Nick Jonas is the youngest member of the Jonas Brothers, a tween-friendly Disney band composed of — you guessed it — three brothers.

    The most-repeated trivia facts about Nick are:

    1. He is the youngest brother
    2. He is involved in a Melrose Place-worthy on-again off-again relationship with Miley Cyrus
    3. He has Type 1 diabetes

    In the wake of his White House visit (where he attended a meeting hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Children’s Congress), the “JoBro” PR machine celebrity press has applauded Nick for his commitment to diabetes.

    While Nick’s visit to the White House is positive in terms of visibility for type-1 diabetes, I just can’t ignore that his group’s 2009 tour is co-sponsored by Burger King.

    Heart disease is a significant concern for anyone living with Type-1 (or Type-2) diabetes.  Two key nutrients that must be watched in a heart-healthy diet — saturated fat and sodium — are found by the bucketload in most Burger King food.

    And while obesity may not be a factor for the development of Type-1 diabetes (as it is with Type-2), obesity among Type-1 diabetics has been found to increase their risk of kidney disease.

    Research has shown that frequent consumption of fast food — at least twice a week — is directly related to an increased risk of obesity.

    The Coronary Artery Risk Development In Young Adults (CARDIA) study concluded that, among white children, eating fast food more than twice a week was with an 86 percent increased risk of becoming obese (compared to their peers who consume fast food less than once a week).

    Attending Senate hearings and advocating for more funding for diabetes research is important and makes for a great photo op, but the most powerful statement the Jonas Brothers’ PR team can make is to refuse advertisement and sponsorship-related associations with companies that sell junk food.

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    “Let Them Eat (Even More) Crap!” says the King

    burger-kingBurger King’s nutritional atrocities just keep on coming!

    Here are some of its latest limited time and regional offerings:

    • Angry Triple Whopper Burger: 1,360 calories; a day and a half’s worth of saturated fat, two thirds of the daily sodium limit; four grams of trans fat
    • Texas Triple Whopper Sandwich: 1,310 calories; a day and a half’s worth of saturated fat; eighty percent of a day’s worth of sodium; three and a half grams of trans fat
    • Country Pork Sandwich: a day’s worth of sodium

    Ironic how these are the same establishments that then go on and on about how they offer plenty of choices to customers want to eat fast food without wrecking their arteries.

    The “moderation” argument falls flat when you offer foods stuffed to the gills with calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.

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    More McTales From Afar

    20061213mcdonaldsI recently blogged about the caloric differences between McDonald’s menu items in the United States and England.

    Small Bites reader Quinn Andrus, who resides in Qatar, recently visited a local McDonald’s with a trusty scale — and sent me the results.

    Among them — Qatar’s Big Mac clocks in at 200 grams (7.14 ounces, compared to the USA’s 7.5 ounce concoction), while the largest beverage order comes in a 825 milliliter (27 ounce) cup.

    This means that a large soda at a McDonald’s in Qatar is roughly 16% smaller (and contains 50 fewer calories) than one in the United States.

    While we’re talking numbers, consider this interesting tidbit that pertains to the 50 states:

    • McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish: 380 calories; 640 milligrams of sodium
    • Burger King’s Big Fish Sandwich: 650 calories; 1,480 milligrams of sodium

    While neither is a “healthy choice” (and both are processed to death), it is quite startling to see the nutritional differences in two seemingly similar offerings.

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    Shame On You: The Results Are In

    I am sure you have all been on pins and needles awaiting the results of Burger King’s Whopper Virgins experiment. Or not.

    Well, the wait is over!

    And wouldn’t you know it — the majority of those “weird third world villagers who have never heard of a burger” prefer the Whopper to rival McDonald’s Big Mac.

    Wondering how the burgers stayed hot and palatable in desolate areas of the world, far from any Burger King?

    Turns out the “expedition team” shuttled villagers to the closest city and had them bite into their first Whopper — in front of a video camera no less — in some sort of warehouse.

    Supposedly, said warehouse had both a Burger King and McDonald’s nearby, ensuring that both chains’ offerings would be in a participant’s mouth no more than 15 minutes after being purchased by the expedition team.

    All this trouble to find out which corn-fed beef patty topped with high-fructose corn syrup ketchup and a single pathetic wilted leaf of lettuce is the more superior one? I don’t get it.

    Burger King chronicles their worldwide journey in this 7 minute, 8 second “cinematic piece”.

    Apart from seeing images of these “researchers” in remote third world areas (including scenes where they cook Burger King hamburgers for a small village in a portable broiler displaying the fast food chain’s logo), we get to hear choice quotes like:

    “[Some of these people] didn’t even know how to pick [a hamburger] up.”

    Oh, wow! How backwards! And the majority of Americans don’t know how to hold chopsticks properly. Your point?

    The team is incredulous when a man practically missing all his teeth chooses to tear off a part of his burger rather than bite into it.

    So incredulous, actually, that they instruct him to take a bite.

    I cringed.

    “You can not get an entirely pure taste from a group of Americans because they have been exposed to so much advertising.”

    Partially true, but this isn’t only a problem in the United States. Fast food and soft drink advertising crosses borders and makes it to some very remote areas.

    Have these people never heard of blind tastings? Simply blindfold your subjects (right here in the USA!), ask them to take a bite of Burger 1, a bite of Burger 2, and tell you which one tastes best to them.

    And for all his “marketing virginity” talk, isn’t “rewarding” those who selected the Whopper as their favorite of the two burgers with their very own Burger King cookout a form of advertising?

    I am still waiting for the press release informing everyone this is a spoof along the lines of Waiting for Guffman or This Is Spinal Tap.

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    Looking To Have Your Intelligence Insulted?

    Then please check out Burger King’s latest shameful advertising attempt — The Whopper Virgins.

    Here is one of the television ads, too.

    In an effort to find out whether the Whopper is superior to the Big Mac (does anyone seriously care?), the folks at Burger King have taken to remote villages in third world countries and videotaped people’s first bites into 100% American fast food.

    You know, because the “poor indigenous” people living in “those weird countries over there” don’t know what they’re missing!

    I mean, come on, who wouldn’t go nuts for a Whopper, right?

    Okay, back to reality: this is one of the most pathetic food-related advertising campaigns I have seen in a VERY long time.

    Burger King is actually proud of the fact that they are bringing Whoppers to parts of the world that don’t have a word for “burger.”

    Hmmm… do they have a word for “trans fat”? I hope so, because the Whopper contains 1.5 grams (along with half of the daily maximum recommendations for sodium and saturated fat.)

    I truly don’t know what’s worse — the cultural arrogance, the complete disregard for local culture, or the idea that third world villagers are the equivalent of lab rats.

    Besides, why not target their main demographic by simply asking random adolescent and twenty-something men in the United States to participate in a blind tasting?

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    Same Mess, Different Name

    Burger King and Wendy’s have launched new burgers and chicken sandwiches. I can barely contain myself!

    First up, Burger King’s Cheesy Bacon Tendercrisp — “premium crispy white meat chicken breast, three kinds of cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise on a corn-dusted bun”.

    Don’t you love the usage of “crispy” as opposed to “deep fried”?

    Anyhow, this gem (which, actually, is being relaunched) adds up to 1,179 calories, 26 grams of saturated fat (more than a day’s worth) and 2,312 of sodium (95% of a day ‘s worth).

    Over at Wendy’s, the “Baconator” (can’t you just smell the oozing testosterone?) awaits.

    This concoction — pictured alongside this post — contains half a pound of ground beef, 6 bacon strips, 2 slices of cheese, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

    That’s right — not even a measly lettuce leaf.

    And so you end up with 830 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat, 1,880 milligrams of sodium, 1 (yes, ONE) gram of fiber, and really bad breath.

    Oh, here’s a fun Wendy’s fact: their cheese sauce is made from 25 different ingredients, including corn syrup solids.

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    Big Patty, Big Problems

    The folks at Burger King never stop thinking of new products.

    Two new steak burgers are being unveiled this month.

    The Steakhouse Burger features a flame-broiled steak burger topped with two slices of melted American cheese, A.1.(R) Thick & Hearty steak sauce, crispy onions, red ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce and creamy mayonnaise on a premium bakery bun,” reads the fast food chain’s press release.

    Looking for even more from your burger?

    Never fear — the Loaded Steakhouse Burger is here (“crispy bacon and a loaded baked potato topping replace the tomatoes, lettuce and mayonnaise.“)

    Global marketing, strategy, and innovation president Russ Klein gushes, “The patty is so big, it peeks out from under the bun. We are proud of our ability to provide premium, quality products to our guests at affordable prices.

    This is no belated April Fool’s joke.

    What’s particularly not funny is the nutritional breakdown of these burgers:

    950 calories (970 for the loaded burger)
    21 grams saturated fat (22 for the loaded burger; daily intake should not surpass 20 grams)
    2 grams trans fat (an entire day’s worth!)
    1,950 milligrams of sodium (2,190 for the loaded burger; daily intake should not surpass 2,400 milligams)

    Before you say, “so what? It’s Burger King! It’s not supposed to be healthy,” keep in mind that a single Steakhouse Burger is calorically equal to two of the chain’s double cheeseburgers.

    I’m all for innovation, but why not come out with a new 450 calorie burger?

    It’s certainly possible.

    After all, seven other flame-broiled burgers contain less calories and sodium than this new colossal artery bomb.

    In fact, only one burger contains more calories — the Quad Stack (a four beef patty affair).

    Are we heading towards the age of nothing but 4-digit calorie burgers?

    (NOTE: Accompanying photograph, from The Impulsive Buy blog, is actual steakhouse burger.)

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    In The News: Maniacal Monarch

    The New York Times‘ Andrew Martin penned a fascinating piece on the inner workings of the Burger King machine.

    If we let figures do the talking, they tell us that the suits at BK are doing something right when it comes to finances and popularity among their target demographic.

    The company has recorded 16 consecutive quarters of growth in same-store sales — those open at least a year, a common industry measure. And in the last quarter… Burger King posted a remarkably strong 4.5 percent gain in same-store sales, even as McDonald’s and its other competitors showed recent signs of weakening amid a souring economy.

    Their stock has crept up 32 percent over the past twelve months, too.

    Too bad their practices are nothing to write home about.

    Case in point? “When McDonald’s… agreed to pay farm workers in Florida a penny more per pound to pick tomatoes, Burger King dug in its heels and refused,” Martin reveals.

    Lovely.

    Meanwhile, The Portion Teller Plan author — and New York University adjunct faculty member — Dr. Lisa Young points out some of their nutritionally hideous items.

    “‘BK is pretty shameless with regards to portions,” Lisa Young, a dietitian in New York who has tracked the increase in portion sizes at fast-food restaurants, wrote in an e-mail message. “Bigger than McDonald’s… The Quad [Stacker hamburger] has 1,000 calories, no veggies allowed!”

    As Dr. Young explained in a self-penned article for MSNBC.com last October, “Hardee’s, Burger King and Wendy’s all have introduced 1,000-calorie-plus sandwiches stuffed with 12 ounces of beef — the amount of meat recommended for two days for most adults” over the past few years.

    Martin explains that McDonald’s ended up bearing the majority of the brunt after fast-food documentary Supersize Me unveiled the murky world of fast food. Burger King continued selling monstrously large items with little criticism or media scrutiny.

    And who can forget this heinous 2006 television commercial for their Texas Double Whopper?

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    The King of Junk

    Behold one of the newest dessert offerings at Burger King — the Sundae Shake (because ordering one or the other is no longer sufficient?)

    The lack of a large size initially struck me as a socially conscious move from the fast food chain.

    I quickly crashed back to Earth when I glanced at the nutrition figures and realized the small and medium sizes already inflict plenty of damage.

    Order a small and slurp down 680 calories, 15 grams (75% of a day’s worth) of saturated fat, 480 milligrams of sodium (slightly more than what a small side of their fries offers), and 95 grams (almost 24 teaspoons) of added sugar.

    Ask for a medium and you’ll be getting 960 calories, 20 grams (an entire day’s worth) of saturated fat, 720 milligrams of sodium (almost as much as an order of large fries), and 138 grams (34.5 teaspoons) of added sugar.

    The syrup alone adds 27 grams and 47 grams of sugar to the small and medium sizes, respectively.

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