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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Culinary no-no #387

Culinary no-no's

This week’s installment is a real…










We, of course, will get to it, but first, in the late 90’s, after WTMJ and I parted company, I was in my car, still listening to WTMJ and I do to this day, when I heard almost a “Breaking News” delivery by the radio news anchor. Seems The Center for Science in the Public Interest had just issued the results of a special study.  Horror of horrors, the Center had done extensive and expensive research to determine that these were fattening:

 It was a day like hearing the news on the radio that ever since has had me screaming to the clouds, “PLEASE LET ME BE THE RECIPIENT OF A GOVERNMENT STUDY!!!!”

The latest study by the Center took them into chain restaurants across the country and more than 200 of their menus. Needless to say they found some disturbing items. That’s what you’d expect, right?

They were on a mission to find the “single unhealthiest" meal on all those menu items so they could crown the 2014 edition of their not-very-coveted Xtreme Eating Awards. The awards go to dishes and combos especially high in calories, fat, sugar and salt.

When I learned the #1 worst offender was NOT from McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s, KFC, Popeye’s, Wendy’s, or Arby’s, I must admit I was relieved…extremely.

Here’s the champion artery hardening meal, described as an A.1. Peppercorn burger, Bottomless Steak Fries, and Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake.

Where can you find this Frankenstein meal?

Care to guess how many calories in that Monster meal?

Did I hear someone say 1,000? 1,000?

That person would be juuuuuuust a bit off.


Uhh, hello, people. We’re talkin’ monster and we’re talkin’ unhealthy for God’s sake.


Close, but not close enough.

Try 3,540 calories.

Oh, now look what just happened. Twelve This Just In readers up and keeled over. Damn it, I need those readers! Probably atheist vegans.

The rest of you still standing, follow along with me and be strong!

3,540 calories.

I know. I said that. Just want to test you, folks.

69 grams of saturated fat.

Oh, mercy!

And 6,280 mg of sodium.

Oh, God, no. Have pity on those Red Robin patrons!

Here are others that made the unhealthiest list:

Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, Cheesecake Factory

Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic, Cheesecake Factory

The Bruleed French Toast from The Cheesecake Factory has over 2,700 calories.

Bruleed French Toast from Cheesecake Factory

The Big Slab of St. Louis-Style Spare Ribs from Famous Dave's

Big "Hook Up" Platter from Joe's Crab Shack

Prime NY Steak Contadina-Style from Maggiano's Little Italy

Signature Deep Dish Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza from BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse

Chevy’s Super Cinco Combo, Chevys Fresh Mex

To burn off the calories after eating some of the above monstrosities, the Center for Science in the Public Interest reports you would have to do:

• 12 hours of brisk walking for the Monster Burger meal
• 7 hours of lap-swimming for the French toast.
• 5 hours of jogging for the chicken pasta dish
• 4.5 hours of aerobics for the cheesecake.

Geez, does mowing the lawn and having a light beer immediately after count?

The aptly-named Paige Einstein is a dietician with the Center. She proclaims, “I don't think people really know just how bad these meals can be in restaurants.”

I respond without the benefit of any over-paid government study that people do, in fact, know just how bad these meals are. They don’t need rocket science or plain old science for that matter. They get that a burger piled up to the ceiling accompanied by twice the normal order of French fries and a milkshake with the same consistency of cement is no damn good for you.

The Center that Einstein works for suggests ordering burgers with steamed broccoli. Are they for real?

Einstein (God, I love that name) says, “Two out of three American adults are overweight or obese and one in 10 adults has diabetes, thanks in part to The Cheesecake Factory, Chevys Fresh Mex, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and much of the rest of America’s chain restaurant industry.”

Now we’ve discussed this ad nauseum on this blog. Yeh, the fat guys and gals eating the triple burgers at Red Robin? It’s not THEIR fault or responsibility. Let’s blame Red Robin and all those other evil restaurants!

What the Center doesn’t tell you is that places like the Cheesecake Factory have what’s called including the SkinnyLicious menu with 50 low calorie items that a Cheesecake Factory official says is “actually larger than many restaurants' entire menus.”

So why would the chains offer these killers and who would order them?

The answers are simple. In the restaurant business where profit margins are razor thin, chains, to be competitive, must provide new and exciting alternatives. And someone’s ordering. And the chains know it. Otherwise they wouldn’t be on the menu.

For those of you who truly get your noses out of joint and stew over the menus at these chains, cheer up. Last year, Long John Silver's found itself atop the list of worst offenders for its "Big Catch" dish, which the Center said had a staggering 33 grams of trans fat. Following that news bulletin, Long John Silver's said it would eliminate trans-fat by the end of 2013. The result: Long John Silver's products were not among the nine worst meals this year. But their battered fish dishes are still mighty tasty.

Actually, there are some elements of those unhealthy losers I might try. And here’s why. I expect to live a lot more years on this planet. I’m happy to say I have lovely reasons.

Call it corny if you will, but as a very young reporter I covered an assignment that to this day I have not forgotten. I was working at WUWM and we got word that Governor Lee Dreyfus was going to make a major announcement. We arranged with WI Public Radio for live feed of the announcement that I anchored live at WUWM.

The rather popular Governor Dreyfus dropped an unexpected bomb. He would not seek re-election. As to why he referred to family saying, “I am not cavalier about time.”  The sound bite was like a lightning bolt that has remained with me for over 30 years.

There's a dance card with my name on it. When it comes up, it comes up, no matter how wonderful I am, no matter how loaded my pockets. And I shake my head that names I shouldn’t read in the obit column for another 20 years suddenly surface today.

So I rarely struggle about indulging in an extra scoop of ice cream or a food or drink item that’s 50 cents or a dollar more than I think it should be.

A Monster Meal? Probably not. But no way does the Center for Science in the Public Interest or Michelle Obama influence my life.


In Defense of Red Robin's 3,000 Calorie Burger and the Other 8 "Most Unhealthy Meals in America''

10 things winemakers won't tell you

Getting kids to eat veggies through inaction

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