Americans spend 100 minutes a day on average preparing and eating food. But what if you could get your day's caloric needs satisfied in just one sitting?
That's the promise offered by some of the gut bombs topping the "Xtreme Eating Awards" list, put out annually by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a food watchdog group.
There's the Fried Chicken & Waffles Benedict from the Cheesecake Factory, a 2,580 calorie doozy with four days' worth of saturated fat, almost two days' worth of sodium and enough sugar to get you through the whole day, 15 teaspoons.
Coming close behind is the Dave & Buster's Short Rib & Cheesy Mac Stack. It's mac and cheese and short ribs crammed into two slices of bread, clamped down with a pickle-and-tomato-topped toothpick, and served with a side of tater tots. This flavor creation will run you 1,910 calories and give you a day and half worth of sodium.
No time for solid food? No problem!
Sonic's RT 44 Grape Slush with Rainbow Candy offers 970 calories and one and a quarter cups of sugar. Get two for the price of one during the 2-4 p.m. daily half-off "Happy Hour" at Sonic and you've got all the caloric fuel you need for a hard day's work.
Other items on the list include a one-pound burger topped with four other kinds of salted meats and "dessert nachos."
The restaurant industry said the CPSI "awards" present a skewed view.
"CSPI's cherry-picked examples paint an inaccurate picture of the great strides the industry has made in the area of nutrition," said Christin Fernandez, Director of Communications at the National Restaurant Association, an industry trade group. She noted the group's work with the FDA for a federal nutrition standard so diners know what they're eating and its efforts in provide "healthful menu options" for children at restaurants.
"America's one million restaurants provide numerous options to accommodate all types of tastes and diets—diners looking for an occasional indulgence or those that are keeping things light," said Fernandez. "Restaurants, now more than ever, are offering choices to meet every consumer's needs."
NYU Health Professor Marion Nestle said the restaurant industry knows what it's doing.
"They must know that they have an audience for them, and of course, they're highly profitable," said Nestle. "Restaurants, alas, are not social service or public health agencies."