Although the organic movement has certainly started to influence how Americans think about their food, it is still no match for the American fast food industry, which continuously finds creative new ways of piling sugar, salt and fat on a plate and charging customers $4.99 for the privilege of eating it.
In recent years, in fact, some of America's favorite chains have gone above and beyond the call of duty and concocted thoroughly repellent dishes that make the Double Quarter Pounder look like a celery stick. These companies have offered Americans these revolting meals despite the fact that roughly one-third of the country is now obese, a deplorable state of affairs that accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates costs the U.S. health-care system $200 billion a year in wasted spending.
In this article, we'll name and shame the very worst offenders, whether they're 1,400-calorie hamburgers or 550-calorie cups of coffee. So let's get things rolling with …
No. 7 -- The Krispy Kreme Doughnut Sundae
Two years ago, the brain trust at Krispy Kreme decided to answer the age-old question of how to make ice cream sundaes even less healthy. The solution, it turns out, is to remove bananas, strawberries or anything that looks remotely like it might contain nutrients, and replace it with a doughnut.
When the sundae -- known affectionately as the Kool Kreme -- premiered in Tacoma, Wash., customers had the choice of adding several toppings, including bits of Snickers, Butterfinger, Heath and Junior Mints. They could add some fruit as well, of course, but what's the point? If you regularly eat a doughnut sundae, no level of Vitamin C will save you.
No. 6 -- Starbucks's Mocha Coconut Frappuccino Blended Coffee With Whipped Cream
At first glance, the Starbucks Mocha Coconut Frappuccino Blended Coffee with whipped cream doesn't seem to belong on this list. After all, its 550 calories and 22 grams of fat pale in comparison to some of the burgers and pizzas we'll encounter a little bit later. But then you remember that the Frappuccino is supposed to be a breakfast drink. As in, something you drink the first thing in the morning while you eat your cereal. And then you understand that if you're willing to consume one-fourth of your daily caloric intake before you even arrive to work, there's nothing to stop you from wolfing down a 1,200-carlorie KFC Double Down (see Item No. 2) for lunch and dinner.
No. 5 -- Cheeseburger Fries
These treats were apparently made for people who love eating cheeseburgers and fries but who don't want to go through the hassle of mashing them together into a fine paste. Cheeseburger fries gained national attention when the New York Times reported that they had become a mini-sensation in the Midwest. The fries, said the Times, were "made of a meat-and-cheese compound" that was "breaded, then deep fried and served with ketchup or barbecue sauce." The caloric intake for these beasts was 75 calories per fry, meaning that eating 10 of them would account for more than a third of your daily intake.
No. 4 -- The KFC Famous Bowl
KFC has a long and proud history of making Americans morbidly obese, but the company reached a new high in 2007 when it unleashed its Famous Bowl upon the world. The Bowl is really a variation on a classic American method of cooking that involves taking a bunch of unhealthy goo from different sources and then slopping them all into a bowl. In this particular example, KFC threw together mashed potatoes, corn, fried chicken, gravy and cheese to create a 720-calorie horror that contains 1 1/2 times your daily fat allowance. The thought of joylessly plowing through the Bowl's starchy potatoes, greasy gravy and processed cheese sounds about as soulless and monotonous as working in a puppy-slaughtering factory.
No. 3 -- Hardee's Monster Thickburger
Simply put, the Monster Thickburger is a fat, sloppy middle finger aimed at nutritionists everywhere. Clocking in at an artery-blowing 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat, the Thickburger premiered in 2004, when McDonald's and Burger King were starting to sell out and offer their customers salads. In defending his decision to sell such a gaping monstrosity, Hardee's CEO Andrew Puzder played George W. Bush to McDonald's and Burger King's John Kerry, essentially calling them out as wimps who didn't have the balls to dramatically shorten their customers' life expectancy with just one meal. Specifically, he said the Thickburger was "not a burger for tree-huggers" but rather "for guys who want a really big, delicious, juicy decadent burger." Yes, gents, nothing will show the ladies how manly you are quite like a belly made entirely of butter.
No. 2 -- The KFC Double Down
Apparently determined to take the Atkins Diet to its most insane and illogical conclusion, KFC has released a new sandwich that succeeds in eliminating carbohydrate-packed bread by replacing it with two slabs of fried chicken. And oh yeah, in between the chicken they lay down heaping gobs of bacon and Swiss and pepper pack cheese. The KFC Double Down is really the ideological heir to the Thickburger, as it was seemingly designed for the sole purpose of pissing off nutrition advocates.
You can imagine future commercials where a rugged Ford-truck-style announcer comes on and says, "The next time some fruity bureaucrat tells you to exercise, look him in the eye and say, 'Hell no! I'm doublin' down with the KFC Double Down!' " The Double Down is slightly wimpier than the Thickburger as it only contains an estimated 1,200 calories. However, it more than makes up for this because it also contains something called "The Colonel's Sauce," which probably contains at the very least 2 percent all-natural radioactive waste.
No. 1 -- Domino's Oreo Cookie Pizza
Sure, everybody loves pizza. But what do you do when traditional pizza has lost its magic? How do you retain your love for it when all the fatty toppings -- pepperoni, buffalo chicken, Alfredo sauce and so forth -- just aren't satisfying you the way they used to? If you're Domino's, you take one of the world's least-healthy cookies and couple it with large doses of frosting to cover an entire pizza crust. Were Dr. Jack Kevorkian still practicing his trade, he'd surely use consumption of the Oreo pizza as his preferred method of assisted suicide. Truly, the only way this sucker could be any worse would be to put it in blender with a bucket of cheeseburger fries and then pour the resulting mixture into a bowl and then cover it with processed cheese.
Which, come to think of it, hasn't been tried yet. Anyone want to drive me to the patent office?
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Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!
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