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    Archive for the ‘Taco Bell’ Category

    2011: A Year to Remember (and Forget!)

    It wasn’t until I started compiling stories for this post that I realized just how much had taken place this year on issues of food, agriculture, and nutrition. While by no means a definitive list, I think it covers the most substantial events.

    So, if you’ve been spelunking in Antarctica for the past twelve months — or just want a short trip down memory lane — let’s review 2011, the year where:
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    Taco Bell’s Drive-Thru Diet

    8222_M_W_300Taco Bell’s latest advertising project? Their Drive-Thru Diet®.

    Their spokesperson, a real-life dieter identified as Christine, claims to have lost 54 pounds over the course of two years “by choosing Fresco items from the Drive-Thru Diet® menu and making other sensible choices.”

    As if the “other sensible choices” part wasn’t enough of a hint that there’s more to this than meets the eye, we then learn that Christine simply reduced her total caloric intake by 500 calories for a total of 1,250 calories a day.

    It seems that even the folks at Taco Bell are aware this campaign is a bit of a stretch.

    Not only does Christine herself share that “these results aren’t typical” and that “as you know,” (?) “the Drive-Thru Diet® menu is not a weight-loss program” — the Taco Bell website makes this statement:

    “For a healthier lifestyle, pay attention to total calorie and fat intake and regular exercise. Fresco can help with calorie reductions of 20 to 100 per item compared to corresponding products on our regular menu. Not a low calorie food.”

    This comes back to a point I often make on this blog — actual weight-loss can be done with almost any food.

    In fact, this campaign reminds me of a similar one by Special K cereal a few years ago.  The gist was that Special K helped you lose weight, provided — of course — that you had a bowl of it as your lunch.

    Christine could have consumed 1,250 calories worth of ice cream, french fries, and pizza and still have lost the weight.

    The added challenge comes from achieving weight loss while meeting nutrient needs and providing the body with sufficient energy and care.

    A 1,250-calorie diet of junk food will result in weight loss, but also in completely inadequate nutrient intakes.

    It’s also worth pointing out that one can consume 320 calories in a half cup of premium ice cream or six cups of strawberries.

    The strawberries, of course, provide phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber lacking in that half cup of ice cream.  In fact, a mere half cup of strawberries (roughly 50 calories) provides significantly more nutrition than that half cup of ice cream.  In that sense, all calories are most certainly NOT created equal!

    Furthermore, while I understand what Taco Bell is trying to do here (reminding customers that their menu offers lower-calorie items), two things bother me:

    1. This campaign is completely carried by a woman, once again reiterating the stereotype that only women care about managing their weight and seeking healthier options
    2. All this talk of healthier options is a little silly when you consider that some Fresco items contain half a day’s worth of sodium

    Rather than create this eye-rolling gimmick, why didn’t Taco Bell simply advertise their lower-calorie items with a “At Taco Bell, low calories are no problem”-ish campaign?  It would at least be — gasp! — more honest.

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    Holy Exploding Arteries, Batman!

    tb2Taco Bell’s Volcano Box is the newest addition to their “Big Box” value meal deals.

    For a mere $6.99, the “think outside the bun” folks fork over:

    • 1 Volcano double beef burrito
    • 1 Volcano taco
    • 1 Crunchy taco
    • 1 bag of cinnamon twists
    • 1 large drink

    Nutritionally, we’re talking about:

    • 1,755 calories (1,793 if your beverage of choice is a Mountain Dew Baja Blast)
    • 20.5 grams of saturated fat (an entire day’s worth)
    • 3,010 milligrams of sodium (125 percent of a day’s worth)

    While this meal provides a hearty 15 grams of fiber, the above figures demolish any idea of healthfulness.

    Some more fun facts about this “meal for one”:

    • Calorically equivalent to a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby PLUS nine Chicken McNuggets
    • As much saturated fat as two Big Macs
    • Three times the sodium of a Burger King Whopper burger
    • Provides 98 percent of the daily caloric needs for a 40-year-old, 6’1″, 190-pound man.

    Coronary masochism in a box!

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    Taco Bell’s new limited-offer Fully Loaded Nachos contain 17 grams of saturated fat, 4.5 grams of trans fat, and 2,190 milligrams of sodium.

    (NOTE: Daily saturated fat intake should not surpass 20 grams; trans fat recommendations are set at 0 grams per day; daily sodium consumption should be below 2,300 milligrams )

    Some more figures to make you go “yikes” — this “dish” contains over one pound of food and clocks in at 1,390 calories.

    Which means more calories, sodium, and saturated fat than a Big Mac with a side of large fries and a large soda.

    Seems like thinking outside the bun isn’t always such a good idea…

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    Numbers Game: Fully Loaded Arteries

    Taco Bell’s new limited-offer Fully Loaded Nachos contain _______ grams of saturated fat, _______ grams of trans fat, and _______ milligrams of sodium.

    (NOTE: Daily saturated fat intake should not surpass 20 grams; trans fat recommendations are set at 0 grams per day; daily sodium consumption should be below 2,300 milligrams )

    a) 15/2.5/2,560
    b) 18/2/1,980

    c) 14/3/2,340

    d) 17/4.5/2,190

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Wednesday for the answer.

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    Man, Oh Man…

    Have you heard of Taco Bell’s Big Bell Box value meal?

    According to the nationwide chain, it’s “the meal that’s made for men”!

    Gender roles defined by fast food companies. How… evolved.

    Anyhow, for as little as $4.99 (or as much as $5.99, depending where you live), hungry men all over the United States can feast on a volcano taco, a burrito supreme, a crunch wrap supreme, a side order of cinnamon twists, and a large drink.

    Or, if you want to talk numbers:

    1,670 calories
    19 grams of saturated fat (suggested daily maximum*: 20 grams)
    2.5 grams of trans fat (no suggested daily maximum, guidelines call for 0 grams)
    3,470 milligrams of sodium (suggested daily maximum: 2,400 milligrams)

    * = for a 2,000 calorie diet

    Calorically speaking, this is equal to THREE Big Macs!

    You know, this could very well be the nutrition version of Pandora’s box…

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    In The News: October Surprise

    Some very surprising — and encouraging — news to share today.

    “Yum Brands, parent company to Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, [A&W, and Long John Silver’s, has] announced plans to begin posting product calorie information on the indoor menu boards nationwide at company-owned restaurants.”

    Wow!

    You read correctly — these chains are doing so completely unprompted. This is not the fast-food industry sighing, rolling its eyes, and begrudgingly “doing what it’s told”.

    The end result of this ground-breaking announcement is that 20,000 of these chain restaurants throughout the United States will post calorie information on their menus by January of 2011.

    Meanwhile, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King have announced they have no intention of posting calorie information where they are not legally required to do so.

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    Frightful Fiesta

    Taco Bell debuted a new advertisement for their Fiesta platters during the 2008 Superbowl.

    They are clearly going for the office lunch crowd.

    The commercial features two cube buddies rushing to a meeting, fiesta platters in hand, only to be stopped by three mariachis who set up a small table for them in the middle of the cube farm, urging them to slow down and enjoy their meal.

    The two employees proceed to happily chow down on chicken soft tacos, seasoned rice, refried beans, chips, and salsa.

    The nutrition facts, however, aren’t so funky dory.

    Each platter adds up to:

    1,060 calories
    50 grams of fat
    12 grams (60 percent of a day’s worth) of saturated fat

    1 gram of trans fat (remember, the recommendation is set at ZERO)

    An astounding 3,420 milligrams (almost a day and a half’s worth!) of sodium.

    The thought of someone unknowingly consuming that much sodium in one sitting truly angers me.

    The one question that comes to my mind is, “why?”

    Why doesn’t Taco Bell offer this product with 300 less calories, half the saturated fat, and half the sodium?

    Well, I suppose I DO know why. Simple economics. Cost. It’s cheaper to provide inexpensive processed food than to buy, store, maintain, and sell fresher items.

    Sigh….

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