Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Holy Heart Failure, Batman!

Here is what I have been wondering for the past two days: how many pounds do 68 slices of bacon make?

A little research reveals that the answer really depends on how thick the bacon is sliced, but for regular bacon, 16 to 20 slices.

Thus, 68 slices is a little over three pounds of bacon.

68 slices is also the equivalent of the amount of fat contained in one 24-ounce serving of a PB&C shake* from Cold Stone Creamery. That same serving packs a walloping 2,010 calories too: basically the full daily caloric intake for a healthy, active individual (and that is active as in old school active, not like nowadays where people sit around all day watching TV, engaging in social media, and well, uh, blogging).

What are the odds that the people who slurp down a PB&C shake eat nothing else throughout the course of their day? Not so good, I would imagine. And would those same individuals also sit down and consume at one sitting three packages of bacon? Not likely. Because while Americans are getting huger and fatter and more unhealthy with every passing day, most are not, in all likelihood, setting out to eat to become large enough to be buried in a grand piano-sized casket.

But if this shameless, irresponsible marketing of fatty, sugary crap continues, that is where a majority of Americans will end up.

Now, I should note that I am among the first in line to say that people are responsible for their choices, and to recognize that in a capitalist society, markets are driven by consumers. If people werent sucking down those PB&C shakes, well more than likely Cold Stone Creamery wouldnt be making them.

But....wait a minute. Ice cream milkshakes have been around forever. There is nothing wrong with having a sweet, cold treat once in awhile. But at 2,010 calories a pop, this type of drink is not a treat, its a threat. Old fashioned milk shakes, even ice cream made from pure heavy cream, don't pack that sort of caloric punch. So clearly, Cold Stone is adding a lot of something else to its products.

On its website, the company is not entirely forthcoming about what that something else might be. In fact, rather obviously the information about its products (all of which, including PB&C, are trademarked) appears to imply that these milkshakes are leaner and more nutritional than milkshakes of yore. According to the company's ice cream FAQ's, the PB&C (TM) is nothing more than peanut butter, chocolate ice cream and skim milk (there is that masterful stroke to lull those itchy dieters).

And while the company likes to blat about how its ice cream is "made fresh daily" (not obviously trademarked), with only the freshest ingredients, it is darn hard to find out just exactly what those ingredients are - let alone what their nutritional value is.

In fact, it takes following about four links on their web site to finally drill down to the table that reveals the dietary horror that its products truly are. Personally I have never stepped foot in a Cold Stone Creamery but I am willing to bet its even harder to get nutrition information from a server at one of the franchises.

Besides which, that is not the point. The point is that this corporation, like McDonald's and so many other processed, fast food corporations that try to pass as responsible corporate citizens, is packing its products with an excess of sugar and fat, while simultaneously using copy that appears to promote health, responsiblity**, slimness and in some extreme cases, weight loss (even though in reality, their products results in its antithesis).

If this was America in the days before there was a Starbucks on every corner and a Lowe's in every strip mall, this wouldn't be so bad. Sure, there have always been eateries that have promoted severely unhealthy eating. But they were local businesses that had impact only within their own regional reach.

Nowadays, where Anywhere USA clones Olive Gardens, Chilli's, Cold Stone Creamerys in every hamlet, burg and city in this nation (and beyond), their menus reach us all. Their dietary influence is ubiquitous and pernicious, especially as the new breed of fast crap food is re-packaged in ways that lull people into thinking its safer and healthier.

Case in point: Cold Stone Creamery's architecture, internal decor, marketing and packaging plays on people's nostalgia and memories of days when ice cream was ice cream: sweet and a bit fatty, but certainly not three-pounds- of- bacon fatty!

*Named "Worst Beverage in America" by the authors of "Drink This, Not That!", a timely expose of the hidden calories in common and popular beverages like bottled, flavored water, ice teas, energy drinks and coffee and ice cream specialty drinks. Rather than just list calories and grams of sugar and fat, the book does a nice job of putting the #s into equivalents that people can immediately relate to - such as 68 slices of bacon.

** From the company web site comes this gem of meaningless marketing babble: " Despite the general perception that ice cream isn’t as good for you as it tastes, at Cold Stone, we’re all about making people happy – for the long haul! – which requires a balanced and sensible approach to eating fun treats like ice cream. We therefore obsess, far more than most companies, about the nutritional aspects of our products as much as we do their taste. For some people, Cold Stone is a ritualized special treat, for others, a daily must-have."


HistoryGoddess said...

Thanks for writing this. Nice comparison between the shake and bacon. I will be thinking about this during the day as there is quite a bit of "food for thought" here. Good job!

HistoryGoddess said...

Thanks for writing this. Nice comparison between the shake and bacon. I will be thinking about this during the day as there is quite a bit of "food for thought" here. Good job!

CabinDweller said...

Mmm. Bacon. I wonder how many PBRs the PB&C equals?

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Hmmmm, I think dinner tonight will be a couple of kilos of bacon and a 12 pack of soda! Dessert will be 3 of those shake thingys. After all, I've expending a lot of energy using the scroll mouse today.

Don't what everyone else will be having though, probably something weird like cauliflower soup.