Some nutritional horror figures don’t exactly come as a surprise. No one is particularly shocked when told that an order of Burger King’s large fries packs in 580 calories, or that a large Wendy’s chocolate frosty shake clocks in at 890 calories and contains almost as much added sugar as three cans of Coke.
It’s not just the large sizes that come with jaw-dropping nutritional values. In fast food world, “just go with a small” advice goes out the (drive-thru) window. Below, my three picks for “yes, really, those numbers are for the SMALL size!”
1) Dunkin’ Donuts frozen iced tea:
You know you’re a sugar overload when, ounce by ounce, you deliver more of those empty calories than soda. Sixteen ounces of Coca-Cola clock in at 53 grams of sugar; whereas that same amount of the donut chain’s frozen iced tea (yes, 16 ounces constitutes a “small”) delivers 58 grams.
Don’t let the presence of tea make you think there is something healthful about this beverage. The ingredient list, as always, tells the tale:
Frozen Neutral Base [Water, Neutral Base (Sugar, Glucose, Fructose, Silicon Dioxide, Malic Acid, Xanthan Gum)], Tea Concentrate (Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Tea Extract, Xanthan Gum, Phosphoric Acid).
So, essentially, a tiny bit of tea extract drowning in sugar (14 and a half teaspoons, to be exact). By the way, the large (32-ounce) variety contributes almost 29 teaspoons of added sugar to your day. BYOI (Bring Your Own Insulin!).
2) Baskin Robbins Fudge Brownie 31° Below® soft-serve sundae
Behold these values: 970 calories, 690 milligrams sodium, approximately 97 grams of added sugar.
Let’s provide some equivalents. Calorically, this provides 50 more calories than a Big Mac with a side of McDonald’s medium fries. Sodium-wise, you’re looking at 60 Lay’s potato chips. In terms of added sugar, this contains as much as two and a half cans of soda.
Not surprisingly, the ingredient list is its own horrific tale, crowded with the usual suspects: partially hydrogenated oils, corn syrup solids, and natural and artificial flavors.
Get this in its large size and you’re looking at 1,760 calories, 43 teaspoons of added sugar, and almost as much sodium as two Burger King Whoppers.
3) Uno Chicago Grill’s Chicago Classic Individual Deep-Dish
Individual only in name, this item delivers two days’ worth of sodium (4,650 milligrams, to be exact) and over a day’s worth of calories (2,310). The classic signs of hyper-processing appear on the ingredient list (think corn syrup solids, BHA, and BHT in the sausage, along with plenty of soybean oil throughout).
Despite being different food offerings from different chains, there one very familiar common thread among all of these monstrosities — cheap, subsidized ingredients (corn syrup for the win!). It’s rather disturbing to note that these are the sorts of “food” items our crop subsidies go to (along with sketchy ingredients like Kentucky Fried Chicken’s “grill flavor”, made from autolyzed soy and wheat).
Small, medium, or large, there’s no denying these products have more in common with a chemistry laboratory than your pantry.