Americans Not Likely to Count Calories
Having learned years ago in journalism school about the necessity of opening a news story with an interesting lead, I’m pretty sure the Associated Press writer who chronicled possible delays in posting of calorie counts on restaurant menus wasn’t trying to be funny.
But when I read the lead sentence recently about attempts to delay implementation of the requirement, I felt it contained a laugh-out-loud quality.
The story began: “Consumers hoping to find out how many calories are in that burger and fries may have to wait—again.”
The idea that anyone ordering a burger and fries cares one whit how many calories are in that particular choice?
In my mind, I could see a New Yorker cartoon of people lined up at McDonald’s, asking each other if they should order the salad because, “Well, there’s just too many calories in the Big Mac Meal.”
Heading for Healthy
The objection to posting calorie counts arose from grocery stores, convenience stores and pizza restaurants concerned over the burdensome nature of implementing the regulations, now delayed until after next year.
To me, the nature of their objections would make for a better lead than the idea that burgers-and-fries consumers are standing around, breathlessly waiting to know how many calories their order contains.
After all, it’s been two years since McDonald’s threw in the towel on trying to convince consumers its entrees are healthy. Reported Business Insider: “McDonald’s emphasizes that the Big Mac is ‘not Greek yogurt’ and ‘will never be kale.’”
Indeed, another more recent story told of how McDonald’s attempts to slant its ads towards healthy options on its menu had driven away core customers. They went to the Golden Arches specifically for burgers and fries, not salads.
Or, as my brother likes to say, the continuing popularity of pizza and entrees dripping with grease or cheese shows how people really eat instead of how they say they eat.
Choosing a Chain
More likely than the public hunting for calorie counts is eateries offering slightly healthier fare, as seen by this recent story about 20 fast food chains that won’t make you fat.
If we’re honest, this is kind of a hedging your bets and hoping the outcome will tilt in your favor. It indeed may be better than burgers and fries, but I still can’t imagine anyone basing their order on the calorie count.
I know because of what I do at one of the two outlets on the 20-restaurant list with locations in our area.
Since Pita Pit is close by and I love their fresh-made offerings, it is my restaurant of choice when I head out for lunch.
Ironically, several months ago (showing that no one needs to wait on Uncle Sam to act) Pita Pit started posting its calorie counts.
But they only apply to the essentials of a particular pita, since the final total depends on what options one chooses. And I have cheese every time, which ups the figure.
The thing is, I never look at the counts. I rotate my choice between one of three pita combinations. I couldn’t tell you what base number of calories any of them have.
The lines are usually busy at lunch, so I don’t have the luxury of studying the menu before it’s time to order and get on down the counter and tell a worker what I want on my pita.
Calorie counts actually aren’t a bad idea. But to think they’re going to prod people into making healthier choices is a stretch.