I understand that commenting on the eating habits of Americans is well-traveled territory. And I’m certainly not within hailing distance of proper eating habits. However, there are still certain lines I won’t cross—lines that separate man from insatiable animals unable to distinguish between piles of barely-edible refuse in a dumpster and actual sustenance.
That brings me to the crux of this piece. This is a topic I’ve been wanting to discuss for some time, and, after seeing the thousandth commercial for the subject matter in question, could postpone no longer.
Hardee’s (or, for those of you in the unsettled territories, “Carl’s, Jr.”) has a promotion called the “$5 Big Bag Lunch.” I will now deconstruct this abomination.
The “five dollar” portion of the moniker is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate. Having never purchased this item, I can’t swear to that fact, but I have no reason to believe anything to the contrary. Likewise, the “big bag” aspect of the item seems to me to be self-evident, unless Hardee’s has begun serving its products in a bucket or a barrel of some kind.
It’s that pesky final word that raises major concerns. Can a food compilation consisting of the following be called “lunch?” Let’s look at it:
1. Double Cheeseburger: This, without more, is a fairly heavy lunch. A double cheeseburger and a glass of water would include a few more calories than even a part-time glutton like myself ingests at a typical lunch.
2. Jumbo Chili Dog: We’ve already gone off the rails. What person in his right mind would ever have the thought, “You know what would be the perfect compliment to this double cheeseburger? A chili dog! No, wait . . . a jumbo chili dog!” We’re only two items in, and there are already three potential entrees in the mix: Burger, hot dog, chili.
3. Fries: If there’s anything missing from the above, it’s (1) starch and (2) more carbs. I’ve often said this, but no “common” food is as bad for you, pound-for-pound, as French fries.
4. Apple Turnover: Heart disease is great and all, but let’s not give short-shrift to diabetes. Once you get through the double cheeseburger, giant hot dog, chili, and french fries, you’ll need something sweet to
block the vomit hit the spot and truly complete the meal. After all, you don’t want to get that “still hungry” feeling after lunch, right?
5. Coke: I need more sugar. I need better odds on belching up some undigested chili. Mission accomplished on both counts.
I’m left with the sad conclusion that some people—perhaps many people—eat this combination of delicacies in one sitting, only to return to their coworkers a couple of pounds heavier and certainly worse for wear. As I said before, I’m no “food prude.” I ate five large pizzas over a seven-day period earlier this summer.
But even I have my limits. The $5 Big Bag Lunch should be something that a friend bets you five bucks you can’t eat in one sitting, not something that is considered a “meal” by a critical mass of Americans.