Food News

CSPI Releases GorgeFest Report

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has just released its report "Xtreme Eating 2009" detailing the nine worst restaurant foods, and three of them, a full one-third, come straight from The Cheesecake Factory.

By "worst," I mean those "appetizers" and entrees that pack the equivalent or more of a full day's calories; that's about 1,800 to 2,200 for most of us.

And don't get me started on the salt! Or the saturated fat!

To sum up what has happened to restaurant dining in the past three or four decades: Cast your mind back to those halcyon days when an "appetizer" was most likely a bowl of soup or a green salad. What "fast casual" restaurants like Olive Garden, Applebee's, Chili's, Uno's, and the Cheesecake Factory are doing nowadays is selling entrees as appetizers. That plate of sliders or baby back ribs or fondue or quesadillas may conceal enough calories and saturated fat to keep your metabolism busy for a week. Same thing with dessert. Any intrepid soul who's willing to do a three-courser could end up eating something like 6,000 calories in one sitting.

Supersize you! You'll argue, of course, that nobody eats like that. You always split your apps and desserts with your date, right? Well, you're not doing her any favors. If she shares your Uno Mega Deepdish Sundae, she's going to be putting away 1,400 calories just to eat her half of it. So romantic: You can waddle off into the sunset together, your fat little fingers entwined. Before you know it, you'll be sharing your 3x sweatpants and shopping at Lane Bryant together too.

Listen, I'm sorry, but this is freaking disgusting. What these places are selling isn't dinner; it's slop. You and I both know that to keep prices down and serve this much gross weight of food, the ingredients have got to be the cheapest (which almost always translates to "unhealthiest.") Salt is inexpensive. So is oil loaded with transfats. So is corn syrup used as sweetener. And it'll all make you sick.

What these restaurants are doing is unethical. Like the cigarette companies of yore, as long as they're making a profit off your ignorance, they couldn't care less if you expire before your time from diabetes and heart disease or if your organs are so sunk in blankets of fat that they can barely function anymore. I say, boycott these places and get your friends to boycott them too. They need to wise up and realize killing off their customers is a shitty way to do business. 

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Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd