Culinary no-no #621


We open with some fast food porn.

Image may contain: food

Image may contain: food

Image may contain: food

Image may contain: food

Image may contain: food

Culver’s is an amazing success story. The Culver Franchising System Inc., is based in Prairie du Sac, WI. Culver’s restaurants are among the hottest franchises in the country with close to 700 restaurants in 25 states.

Craig Culver opened the first Culver’s in 1984 that combined butter burgers and fresh frozen custard.

A few days ago Food and Wine listed Culver’s as the best fast food in the state of Wisconsin. It’s hard to disagree.

Earlier this year Culver’s was rated the third best quick-service chain by Restaurant Business, getting high marks for its ambience, food and convenience.

The unhealthiness of fast food is not a news bulletin. This infographic by Healthline illustrates 13 effects of eating highly processed, unhealthy food on the human body.

But what’s this?

Could this blaring headline possibly be true?

Fast food can be healthy

Who said that? Craig Culver? The CEO of McDonald’s? A cook at Taco Bell?


Image may contain: tree, plant, sky, table, grass, house, outdoor and nature

Researchers at Harvard University.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

That’s Kelsey Vercammen, a PhD student at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health in Boston and the lead author of the study, “Calorie and Nutrient Profile of Combination Meals at U.S. Fast Food and Fast Casual Restaurants.” She and six other researchers collaborated on the study that just came out in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Here’s what they did. In 2017 and 2018, Vercammen and her team took online menus from 34 U.S. fast food and fast casual restaurants to identify combination meal options. At their disposal was nutrition information for each item.

The researchers analyzed three options for each meal: the default option, as advertised on the menu, and two versions of the meal with substitutions (a low-calorie, or minimum option, and a high-calorie, or maximum option).

The Rand Corporation claims the United States is in the throes of an unprecedented epidemic of obesity, fueled in part by consumption of food away from home. Rand cites healthier restaurant and meal guidelines that suggest an adult meal should contain no more than 700 calories, with less than 10%, or less than 70, of those calories coming from saturated fat and less than 35%, or less than 245 calories, from sugars. The average combination meal, in its default form, contained 1,193 calories, with 14 grams of saturated fat (126 calories) and 68 grams of sugar (272 calories),

The guidelines say an adult meal should contain no more than 770 milligrams of sodium, but the study’s authors found the average default option contained 2,110 milligrams.

Keep in mind it took seven researchers at Harvard no less a significant amount of time to come up with their conclusion, that fast food can be healthy. Any idea where this is headed? Of course the Harvard team is correct. Actually the key word isn’t “healthy.” A better word is “healthier.”

An optimistic Vercammen said, “We were surprised at just how much realistic customer modifications can change the nutrient profile of a meal.”|

Note the word “modifications.” That would mean:

Substituting a sugar-free beverage for a sugary drink.

Substituting plain water for a sugary drink.

Removing toppings from entrées.

Removing  dipping sauces from entrées.

Vercammen maintains these “modifications” would substantially change the calorie and nutrient content of a fast food meal.

And it took some Harvard brainiacs over a two year period to come up with this?

So, using Culver’s as an example, I am supposed to:

Request that no butter be placed on my butter burger.

No cheese on the burger.

No mustard, no ketchup, no bacon, nothing.

Just a plain old naked burger.

No ketchup on my fries.

No BBQ or ranch sauce for chicken strips for nuggets.

Same for the cheese curds.

Oh, and no soda. I’ll just have water.

Remember Vercammen said “realistic”  modifications would make a difference. Sorry, young lady, but as for me these would not be “realistic.”

No no.


Unhappy meals: Study says fast food could make teenagers depressed

Diet advice changes by the minute. How are we supposed to figure out what to eat?

Half-empty boxes of Milk Duds, underfilled Halo Top: people keep suing over “slack fill” in food

ICYMI: Culinary no-no #620

One thought on “Culinary no-no #621

  1. Pingback: Culinary no-no #622 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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