Archive for the ‘Food & Drink’ Category

Warning: this will make your mouth water … guaranteed !

June 25, 2010

The Center for Science in the Public Interest puts out an annual ranking of unhealthy (i.e. really good tasting) restaurant dishes.

Reads like they just shadow the Homa family around for awhile.

I may submit a job app – imagine getting paid for scarfing this stuff.

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NutritionAction CSPI: Xtreme Eating 2010 , June 2010

2010 Xtreme Eating Awards

Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger: A Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger has 920 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat (1½ days’ worth) without toppings. Think two Quarter Pounders. And how many Five Guys patrons eat a burger without fries or a drink? Add 620 calories for the regular fries .

The Cheesecake Factory’s Chocolate Tower Trouble Cake. A tower of any food is rarely a good idea. If it weren’t served on its side, this one would stand over six inches tall. And upright or not, the slab of cake still weighs in at threequarters of a pound. What do you get for all that heft? Just 1,670 calories and 2½ days’ worth of saturated fat (48 grams.

California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Steak: The (individual-size) Tostada Pizza brings 1,440 calories and more than a day’s saturated fat (27 grams) and sodium (2,630 mg) to each diner. The crust alone supplies some 400 calories’ worth of flour (about 1 cup). With grilled steak the pizza has 1,680 calories, 32 grams of sat fat, and 3,300 mg of sodium.

The Cheesecake Factory’s Pasta Carbonara: A serving of Pasta Carbonara with Chicken has 2,500 calories and 85 grams of sat fat (more than a four-day supply).

P.F. Chang’s Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo: the Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo delivers an off-the-charts 7,690 milligrams of sodium. That’s 3 teaspoons of salt—a five-day supply, and double the outrageous levels in Chang’s lo meins.

Outback Steakhouse New Zealand Rack of Lamb: The total damage from the lamb-plus-sides: 1,820 calories, 80 grams of sat fat, and 2,600 mg of sodium. If you’re on a diet, consider Outback’s 16 oz. Prime Rib instead. With the same sides, it’s a steal at “only” 1,580 calories, 57 grams of sat fat, and 2,240 mg of sodium.

Chevys Crab & Shrimp Quesadilla: the platter packs 1,790 calories and 63 grams of saturated fat plus 3,440 mg of sodium. Ay caramba!

California Pizza Kitchen Pesto Cream Penne:  before you add any chicken or shrimp — it hides 1,350 calories, 49 grams of saturated fat, and 1,920 mg of sodium. That’s essentially what you’d get in a plate of fettuccine Alfredo, which we dubbed a “heart attack on a plate” in 1994. 

Bob Evans Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes: a stack of three ordinary hotcakes that will add around 1,000 calories’ worth of white flour to your midsection, with a bonus 3 to 9 grams of trans fat (1½ to 4½ days’ worth) and 6 to 12 grams of saturated fat for your heart. And you can pump up the calories on your own by adding syrup (every ¼ cup—just 4 tablespoons— adds 200 calories). Take two pancakes and stuff them with either good stuff (like blueberries or bananas) or garbage (like cinnamon chips made of sugar and oil). Then add a layer of vanilla cream cheese (it’s more like cream than cheese) and a sugary topping (like cinnamon cream), with whipped topping as the coup de grease. Voila! Bob Evans Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes — bumps up the calories to 1,380, the bad fat to 27 grams of saturated plus 7 grams of trans, and the sugar to 27 teaspoons.

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Subway claims only their’s is a footlong … depends where you measure from, I guess.

June 17, 2010

Punch line: The term “footlong” has been around for decades – maybe centuries. 

But Subway, fresh off its $5 footlong promotion, is trying to claim the phrase is proprietary and suing other folks who use the term.

Come on, Subway …  go fight McDonald’s, not push-cart vendors.

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Excerpted from BrandChannel: Did Subway Put Its Foot(long) In Its Mouth? ,  May 19, 2010

Subway successfully positioned itself via its Jared Fogle healthier eating campaign as the antithesis of “fast food.”

Launched in 2008, the chain’s $5-footlong deal has become its most successful campaign ever.

Now, Subway is moving to protect its “footlong” golden goose …

Subway is sending cease-and-desist letters to hotdog vendors using the term “footlong” to sell their wares.

In one case, Subway even targeted a hotdog vendor that has been selling “footlong” dogs for 40 years.

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A patent attorney points out, “Federal trademark law prohibits federal trademark registrations on words which, when used in connection with the goods, are merely descriptive. A cursory Google search reveals over 6,000 uses of the words ‘footlong sandwich’ apart from the term ‘Subway.'”

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I’ll have a burger, hold the hot dog …

May 27, 2010

Punch line: The conventional wisdom is that red meats have higher saturated fat and cholesterol levels which increase heart  attack risk. 

The good news:  a new study suggests that a juicy burger isn’t a heart-attack-on-a-plate after all.

The bad news: hot dogs, bacon and sausage are still no-no’s.

Badest of the bad: there was a TV special on the least healthy restaurant foods served in America … my favorites: a place in NJ serves deep fried hot dogs and a place in Tennessee serves deep fried burgers … both had lines running down the street ala Georgetown Cupcakes.

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Excerpted from WSJ: A Guilt-Free Hamburger, MAY 18, 2010

A new study from Harvard suggests that the heart risk long associated with red meat comes mostly from processed varieties such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts — and not from steak, hamburgers and other non-processed cuts.

The finding is surprising because both types of red meat are high in saturated fat, a substance believed to be partly responsible for the increased risk of heart disease. But the new study raises the possibility that when it comes to meat, at least, the real bad actor may be salt. Processed meats generally have about four times the amount of salt as unprocessed meats.

The findings suggest that people, especially those already at risk of heart problems or with high blood pressure, should consider reducing consumption of bacon, processed ham, hot dogs and other packaged meats that have a high salt content. Salt increases blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

None of this suggests that steak is a new health food. While red meat wasn’t linked to an increased risk of heart disease in the study, it didn’t lower it either.

The American Meat Institute Foundation took issue with the findings, saying they conflict with national dietary guidelines. “The body of evidence clearly demonstrates that processed meat is a healthy part of a balanced diet.”

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When is candy not candy ?

May 21, 2010

Punch line: States want to cut deficits by taxing candy. That’s not as easy as it sounds …

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Excerpted from WSJ: Candy Taxes Struggle to Define Candy, May 17, 2010

Many states don’t tax food – which  considered is essential.  Taxing food might push the poor toward malnourishment or unhealthy eating.

The food exemption has traditionally extended to candy and soda.

As they struggle with budget deficits, states from New York to Washington are looking to candy and soda taxes to help bridge the gap. .

More than a dozen states have passed or proposed some sort of candy or soda tax in the 2010 legislative session, and most of them are bound to face some sort of confusion.

The hard part: defining candy.

The distinction between candy and food can be hard to pin down.

  • In Washington, a new candy tax will apply to Butterfinger candy bars, yet Kit-Kat wafers remain excise free (this because the law exempts foods with flour in them).
  • in Colorado, Kit-Kats go untaxed, but Twix bars face levies.
  • In Illinois, retailers in Chicago are unsure if Twix Bars — some of which contain flour and peanut butter — are food or candy.

Bottom line: one man’s food is another man’s candy …

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Diageo Pushes Pricey Pods For Chilled Beer Displays

April 23, 2009

Excerpted from WSJ, “Diageo Serves Up New Campaign Aimed at Shoppers” By Aaron O. Patrick, Apr 7, 2009

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With people going out less often amid the recession and drinking more at home, Diageo is adding a twist to its marketing.

The company, whose brands include Johnnie Walker scotch and Guinness beer, is developing in-store displays to encourage shoppers to buy more of its products in supermarkets and liquor stores. Central to its approach is a plan to roll out big refrigeration units so stores can sell their beer chilled.

The idea is to create a partially enclosed, refrigerated beer zone within a supermarket aisle, using a design Diageo calls “the pod.” The refrigeration units, which will cost retailers roughly €10,000 ($13,000) each, are intended to hold all kinds of beer, not just Diageo’s brands, in an attempt to boost beer sales overall.

No retailer has yet bought the pod … But Diageo says it is working with Spar, a European food chain, to install a smaller version this spring.

The effort is part of a strategy by Chief Executive Paul Walsh to make Diageo, the world’s biggest alcoholic-beverage company by revenue, better at working with supermarket chains, an increasingly important outlets for alcohol sales …

Diageo is installing computer screens in liquor stores to help people plan parties. Customers type in the cocktails they want to serve and the number of guests they are expecting, and the computer prints out a list of ingredients and quantities, including ice. The machines, which the company says are in 500 liquor stores in 38 U.S. states, can also send cocktail recipes via email …

Analysts say Diageo’s retail push seems to be working. Sales of its Smirnoff vodka grew 2.2% in the U.S. in January, twice the rate of the spirits market as a whole … while sales of most big spirits brands fell … In Europe, Diageo’s Irish unit has emerged as a leader in the supermarket strategy. In the past few years it has given away 600 display stands that hold spirits, mixers and condiments …

Spirits account for most of London-based Diageo’s profit, but beer is especially important to it in Ireland, where it brews Guinness as well as such brands as Budweiser and Carlsberg. Diageo Ireland learned that 78% of those who buy beer in Ireland drink it within three hours, says Henry Dummer, the company’s head of customer marketing in Ireland. Many Irish supermarkets don’t sell chilled beer, missing out on sales, he says.

Now, Spar has agreed to install Diageo-designed beer refrigerators in all 50 of its Irish Eurospar stores over the next two years, says Declan Ralph, Spar Ireland’s retail-development director … Diageo is in talks with other retailers about the pod.

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When Every Hour is Happy Hour … Restaurants Make More Room at the Bar

April 16, 2009

Excerpted from WSJ, “Bar Wars” By Katy McLaughlin, Apr 3, 2009

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When chef Eric Greenspan opened the Foundry, a $1.3 million restaurant in Los Angeles, two years ago, he created a menu of high-end cuisine, showcasing the culinary skills he had honed at some of the world’s top restaurants. Three months ago, Mr. Greenspan turned the restaurant into a lounge with nightly live bands, cocktail waitresses and promotions such as “fried-chicken-and-waffles night.” The dining room has been banished to a back patio.

Around the country, proprietors are turning their restaurants — or significant parts of them — into glorified bars. They’re ripping out dining-room tables to make more bar space, applying for late-night and cabaret licenses and adding the word “bar” to their names. Top chefs are serving up bar snacks like grilled cheese sandwiches and hot dogs.

The reason: While consumer spending at restaurants is falling precipitously, drink orders, particularly for cheaper drinks like beer, are barely dropping off. For restaurants, it’s now proving more cost-effective to serve lower-priced dishes that diners can munch on as they buy drinks …  

The morphing of some of the nation’s top dining rooms into bars and lounges with food demonstrates how dramatically and quickly consumer behavior has changed since the economy plummeted this fall … this year fine dining sales will plunge at least 12%, after falling 4% last year. Meanwhile, analysts are predicting a less painful contraction in alcohol sales …“Historically, consumption of alcohol tends to outperform compared to other parts of the economy in a recession” …

Selling alcohol, and cocktails in particular, is typically a better business than selling restaurant food because the margins are higher. While ingredient costs may account for as much as 35% of the price of an entrée in a high-end restaurant, they typically only account for about 14% of the price of a cocktail or 25% of the price of a glass of wine.

Bar snacks, which often include inexpensive items like pizzas, can also have better margins than fine-dining dishes with expensive proteins such as filet mignon or organic lamb. Since restaurants are already paying to run a kitchen, selling additional, easy-to-make food is simply an extra revenue stream.

Beyond thrift, there is a social component to noshing at bars. Restaurateurs say patrons seem especially eager to rub shoulders with one another at the bar, rather than isolate themselves at dining-room tables.

“People want to socialize and be out; they don’t want to be miserable at home,” says Chris Douglass, co-owner of three Boston-area restaurants … Informal dining is increasingly popular, and some of the restaurants launching bar menus and lounges will likely keep them even after the economy bounces back …

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A flagrant act of nutritional disobedience …

November 11, 2008

Excerpted from NY Times, “Bake Sales Fall Victim to Push for Healthier Foods”, November 10, 2008

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Members of the Piedmont High School boys water polo team never expected to find themselves running through school in their Speedos to promote a bake sale across the street. But times have been tough since the school banned homemade brownies and cupcakes.

The old-fashioned school bake sale, once as American as apple pie, is fast becoming obsolete in California, a result of strict new state nutrition standards for public schools that regulate the types of food that can be sold to students. The guidelines  … require that snacks sold during the school day contain no more than 35 percent sugar by weight and derive no more than 35 percent of their calories from fat and no more than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fat.

The Piedmont High water polo team falls woefully short of these standards, selling cupcakes, caramel apples and lemon bars off campus in a flagrant act of nutritional disobedience.

The ban on bake sales has not been met with universal enthusiasm. The Piedmont Highlander, the school newspaper, editorialized about “birthday cakes turned into contraband” and homemade goodies snatched from students “by the long arm and hungry mouth of the law. You shouldn’t stop a kid from buying a cookie.”

The idea is that policy interventions to reduce consumption “will do for junk food what smoking bans and taxes did for tobacco.”

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Ken’s Take: Yeah, worked pretty well on smokes … 

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