Carl’s Jr.: ‘Feel Good About Being Fat’

The proliferation of over-indulgent double meat, double bacon, double cheese, double bypass-surgery monster burgers across our fast-food nation has been taken to an all new level as detailed by this article in Portfolio magazine. (If you don’t believe me take a look at this interactive feature.) It doesn’t take a 7 page magazine article to tell us that fast-food chains from sea to shining sea have hardly even paid lip service to the public outcry against their freakishly fatty fare. You can hardly go anywhere without being bombarded with ads of fit young guys diving into double-pattied, greasy behemoths “no holds barred.” The latest evil-genius marketing ploy uses opponents charges against them by developing a false sense of pride associated with eating something that is so extremely socially incorrect. The bigger burger you eat, they tell us, the higher your middle finger flies in the face of whiny, veggie-eating health nuts.



Here are some of the more outrageous quotes from the article:

“In an age when other chains have been forced to at least pretend that they care about the health of their customers and have started offering packets of apples and things sprinkled with walnuts and yogurt, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. are purposely running in the opposite direction, unapologetically creating an arsenal of higher-priced, high-fat, high-calorie monstrosities…”

“That message may be revolutionary or totally evil or maybe both, but in any case, it goes like this: Anyone can make Americans fat (hell, everyone already has), but only one fast-food company can make them fat and allow them to feel good about it, even get them to feel like they’re making a statement and striking a blow against the forces of political correctness.”

“So Hardee’s dispensed with any semblance of social conscience and in 2003 introduced the Thickburger. In 2004, this begat the downright lurid Monster Thickburger, a messy two-thirds of a pound of charbroiled Angus beef containing more than 1,400 calories and 107 grams of fat.”

“Last summer, Wendy’s introduced the Baconator—two hamburger patties, two slices of American cheese, and no fewer than six strips of bacon.”

“They’re regulars: Tony says he eats at Hardee’s four times a month, sometimes breakfast, sometimes lunch or dinner. He’s quietly, methodically working on a Philly Cheese Steak Thickburger, a large fries, and a tankard of soda. It takes him a solid 15 minutes to get through it all. Arlie Mae is eating a comparatively dainty Big Chicken Fillet Sandwich (770 calories) and fries and drinking a “small” Coke, which is about the size of her thigh.”

“Amid all the bluster, CKE has made a couple of concessions. Carl’s Jr. offers a charbroiled-chicken salad that has just seven grams of fat, and Hardee’s serves a barbecued-chicken sandwich. “It’s a very healthy sandwich. I think we sell about two a day,” Pudzer quips.”

“The development team is currently working on a Cap’n Crunch shake, featuring vanilla ice cream and crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal.”

via Portfolio

I’d say I hope CKE (Carl’s and Hardee’s parent company) will experience the same sort of backlash that McDonald’s experienced a few years back for their in-your-face, overt attempt to sell these artery clogging beef bombs if not for the fact that it was the media and public backlash that is now being used in their favor. In fact, maybe I shouldn’t even be publishing this blog post. My, how the bright red plastic tables have turned.

Albeit a completely wacky idea, I can now at least imagine why the Mississippi legislature thought such desperate measures were called for when they suggested restaurants prohibit serving obese patrons.

What is one to do? Thoughts?

Further Reading:

What Does a 410 lb. Weight Loss Really Look Like?

Conditioning Research: Not Fat! Fast Food Carb Intake Associated with Liver Damage

The Consumerist: Worst Fast Food in America

Modern Forage: UK and US Citizens Love Their Fast Food

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25 thoughts on “Carl’s Jr.: ‘Feel Good About Being Fat’”

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  1. I love the small coke size of her thigh line.
    I know my approach isnt popular but Ive taken responsibility with my daughter to TEACH her moderation and healthy eating.

    that sugarysnacks and fast food DO have a place in our food plan just not every day and often we DONT EAT IT ALL even if it’s in front of us.

    we’ll separate it out before we start and save the rest for later or (more typically) BRING FRIENDS WITH US!

  2. Thanks for commenting, carla, even though, as you said, it probably isn’t the most popular opinion. We love hearing everyone’s viewpoint. Without differing opinions these comment boards would get boring really quick. It is the debate the keeps everything alive and fresh.

    As you probably know, carla, we preach living a healthy lifestyle with sensible vices and indulging (in moderation) only when we fully understand the compromises we are making. I wouldn’t ever suggest eating at Carl’s Jr., but I certainly know where you are coming from.

  3. *Bows in shame* I have tried a Baconator. It was actually a rather lame sandwich, but then again, I can really throw down on some food, I just typically choose much more healthful fare.

    But I have trouble blaming Carl’s/Hardee’s, Wendy’s, or any other fast food chain for making Americans fat. I blame Americans for making Americans fat. Carl’s is merely providing what people are clamoring for. That’s the whole point of business…sell what the market wants. For better or for worse (depending on your viewpoint), corporations are not altruistic. Their motivation is to make money for the shareholders. When the market rejects such offerings, they will quit appearing on menus.

    And thanks for the link love!

    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  4. I have to say that IF I go to a fast food place, it will only be Hardee’s or Cookout. Personally I think the quality of their meat is better than the other fast food joints.

    The burger pictured looks awesome, but ditch the bun and the condiments (WHO ever decided mayo goes on a burger!). I usually order the largest burger available, bun-less, with cheese, lettuce and tomato, sometimes extra tomato.

  5. It is interesting how the fast food industry is marketing the bigger, fatter, burger meals. When I saw the Baconator commercial I immediatly asked “I wonder how many calories and grams of fat are in that thing”. I went to the Wendy’s website where they publish all the “nutritional” information of the monster. Incredible!

    However, life is all about choices. I’ve chosen NOT to eat that stuff, and only hope to convince others around me by my actions and fitness results to do the same. There is a price to be paid for enjoying foods like this, and sooner or later the bill comes due!



  6. As usual, the fat is always to blame. But is is really? Even with those big burgers, most of the calories in a combo (sandwich, fries, and HFCS sweetened soda come from carbs, not fat or protein.

    E. coli and grainfed factory farmed beef issues aside, the primary nutrition problems with the Carl’s Jr foods mentioned are the white flour buns, the plastic cheese slices, the HFCS-laden condiments, the hydrogenated veg oil cooked french fries, and the HFCS sweetened sodas, not the burgers. Carl’s Jr is still one of the few remaining fast food places where one can find a low carb burger (minus the bun and wrapped in lettuce) on the menu. Sure the other places can make a bunless burger on request (or the bun can be tossed by the diner), but I have to give them points for the guts to keep the Low Carb option in plain view.

    I don’t think the other fast food places really have such great “healthy” options for the most part. Stuck in airports, I have tried the McDonald’s salads and such and they are still crap, full of sugar and engineered food products. So are the kid’s meal alternative options.

    That doesn’t mean I think a steady diet of Carl’s Jr (or any other fast food) is the way to go, low carb options or not. But on the rare occasions I’ve been in a Carl’s Jr, it is s full of young men and tradesmen with “HFCS” bellies ordering the combo meals with fries and soda, not better choice of the Low Carb burger and water.

    Still, these days I brown bag it whenever feasible.

  7. Anna: When I gave low-carb a try a while back, the folks at a local burger chain (Whataburger)went out of their way to save me money. They created an order where I ordered water at no charge, then they would charge me for an “extra” hamburger patty. They threw in some tomato and lettuce and I had a cheap, low-carb, meal. But as low-carb got more popular, management caught on and I ended up paying for a full burger–they just substituted a plastic tray and eating utensils for the bun.

    I don’t eat fast-food burgers anymore but I still cringe when I read a write up making “fat” the bad guy. As you pointed out, it’s everything around the hamburger patty that takes this thing something to fear. If nothing else, it’s just the sheer number of calories!

  8. At 1400 calories, I don’t think the problem is just what’s around the burger. The whole thing is too big, too greasy, and surrounded with simple carbs. Yes, I eat beef, but nothing that looks like that.

    I think the interesting thing is the marketing they use with this to help people feel okay, and even proud of overeating. Heard a commercial this summer for one of the grease bomb sandwiches that was basically saying “are you man enough to eat it?”

    Lots of people make a lot of money at the expense of others’ health. Here’s raising a Cap’n Crunch shake (gag me!) to them.

  9. Dave C – You know we love fat (the right kinds at least) here at Mark’s Daily Apple. But there is a fair balance needed in everything we eat. The burger shown has 111 grams of fat. Additionally, if anything, the fat I intended to be the “bad guy” was the fat around the diners’ mid-sections…

    Karen – Agreed. The burger isn’t the only thing to blame, but, as you allude to, with burgers alone reaching calorie totals upward of a full day’s worth of calories, it is certainly a good place to start.

  10. I truly loathe Carl’s Jr. and everything for which they stand. You can add AM/PM to that list as well – “Too much good stuff.” I dislike these companies more than the tobacco companies. I actually make the effort to turn the channel everytime one of these commercials appears. This garbage has no place in the human diet – the stuff is poison.

    This is my opinion, I do not expect everyone to agree. However, I also have the opinion that anyone who frequents these places should not be complaining about the cost of healthcare.

  11. I’m with some others here- fast food is a business, they sell what sells. The problem is the mindset that buys it.

    I can understand that mindset. I HATE being moralized at or treated like a child by someone who doesn’t approve of choices that are none of their business, and the health-n-fitness crowd (in general, not here, or else I wouldn’t BE here) has a nasty tendency to do both to people they have deemed Unhealthy. It’s understandable, and it comes from pure frustration, among other things, and my instinctive reaction- the urge to flip that middle finger and go have a six-pound cheeseburger, fries, Coke, and a pack of cigarettes- is childish. But it’s also very real.

    As for indulgences, I will never, to my dying breath, understand people who live almost entirely healthfully, occasionally overindulge, and then actually feel guilty about it. Call it a hedonistic streak, but I generally feel pretty awesome about it, even though I know it’s going to cost me a bit and have probably already planned how I’m going to “pay the bill”. However, I also don’t understand doing so with anything that wasn’t worth it- like a fast food burger. And I don’t understand doing that often; then it stops being fun and just becomes a tiresome bad habit with all sorts of costs I don’t want.

  12. I agree with CKE and their stance to advertise high calorie food. One doesn’t go to a burger joint to eat something healthy. Seeing fast food chains advertise ‘healthy’ low fat options doesn’t sit well with me. There’s nothing healthy about eating a low calorie salad and washing it down with a coke (or diet coke for that matter). Same goes for eating a fish sandwich, just in time for Lent as every year, that probably has more than twice the amount of your daily salt needs.

    Keep it simple. Want to eat healthfully – cook. Want to indulge in modern fast food – take the responsibility and consequences of your actions on yourself. Don’t blame McDonalds for making you fat (or cars, or the tv remote).

  13. There’s nothing healthy about eating a low calorie salad and washing it down with a coke (or diet coke for that matter)

    I don’t agree. I eat a salad from a local burger joint from time to time and although it could be healthier (organic produce, chicken, oil on the grill, etc), overall I think it’s a pretty healthy choice. I’m glad they offer it for those times when I’m not prepared to eat something home cooked.

  14. That burger looks delicious. I’ll probably try to hook myself up a nice burger at Hardees for lunch. Get off your can and exercise hard and you can live it up a little. 1400 calories is nothing. I eat about 5000 a day and never put on any weight. Have excellent health too. It’s because I work out hard and am not lazy. People are always looking for short cuts and playing the victim. The problem isn’t the food. It’s YOU!

  15. You know, I’m about halfway through The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I’m not sure that big business IS “just giving us what we demand.” Pollan makes a pretty convincing case that what big business is trying to do is get rid of a glut of corn by getting us to consume more, either directly through HFCS or indirectly through corn-fed beef, chicken, and even fish.

    I’m not saying that we don’t have choices, just that 1) big business is trying to get us to swallow a lot of corn, and 2) our choices are limited somewhat by what’s on offer. Quick example: try finding full-fat, unsweetened kefir some time. (And if you’re within 25 miles of Boston, please tell me if you succeed!)

    1. I just couldn’t resist commenting on your kefir statement- SO true!!! It’s so frustrating; I’m new to the primal lifestyle so I was starting to think that maybe there was no such thing as full-fat unsweetened kefir (even though I knew this was wrong…). And it’s all ultrapasteurized. I live in Kansas, and you would think that in a farm state we would have ready access to local foods. But with the abundance of farms, most of them are big agriculture. We are finally starting to gain momentum with farmers’ markets and I know of a few small farms offering raw dairy and the like. But it’s more of a food wasteland here…fast food chains abound and the riches of the land are largely unavailable to us. It’s harder than ever to survive and live well in an urban area in this state at least; I’m getting more and more interested in growing my own vegetables and going the extra mile to find quality, whole, raw dairy.

  16. I gotta say I don’t see anything wrong with indulging once in a while. I understand the popular opinion is that fastfood is bad wrong and should be banished from the world. However, as Carla the first commenter stated “moderation”. We as individuals need to take responsibility for what we eat. The whole idea of “the companies made me eat it” is BS. We control our actions not the evil CKE empire. Yes it looks tasty, yes they market it that way- if they were to market cat food in the same way, would everyone eat that too? Come on now people, lets start taking responsibility for ourselves and stop blaming the handsome fit young man enjoying the obscene mammoth burger for our lack of self control.

  17. I am not sure if I could use this site to aire my frustration with Carl’s Jr. (Virgil & 6th LA, CA). I visited the store for the first time. Parking was bad. When I got in, there was one cashier, 2 talkative managers, where the girl’s brassiere’s strap was falling in the middle of her fat arms. I ordered Meal#11. Funny because I waited 30 minutes for my meal, got charged for my drinks and fries in a COMBO, and I asked where the comment box…nobody knew. Funny coz all their tables were filled with suggestion forms.

    How crazy and ugly my experience was and I am recommending everybody never to go there.

    When I got home, my stomach was upset from the burger I ate. The fats and the ugly crews that served my meal this day deserves a big booh booh!!!