These Chain Restaurant Menu Items Contain a Day's Worth of Calories

kellyvandellen/iStock via Getty Images
kellyvandellen/iStock via Getty Images

Most American chain restaurants are not fun places to count calories. On menus that feature all-you-can-eat breadsticks and sandwiches the size of an infant, the "light" section is usually an afterthought. Of course, there's no shame in eating an over-the-top meal surrounded by mismatched memorabilia, but if you'd like to keep your calorie intake in the triple digits, there are some items you should avoid.

As The Takeout reports, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has announced the winners of its annual Xtreme Eating Awards. Each year, the CSPI highlights a handful of particularly gut-busting menu items offered at various chain restaurants. Each entry on the 2019 list boasts 1500 to 2300 calories and at least one daily recommended serving of sugar, salt, or saturated fat.

Several desserts made the list: Sonic’s Oreo Peanut Butter Master Shake, The Cheesecake Factory Cinnamon Roll Pancakes, and Topgolf's Injectable Donut Holes (which come with syringes of chocolate, jelly, and Bavarian cream) all come out to about a day's worth of recommended calories. At Maggiano's, you can order the Today & Tomorrow Pastas special, which includes one meal to eat at the restaurant and one to go. Even if you can resist eating both in one sitting, the Braised Beef al Forno alone contains 1760 calories, 41 grams of saturated fat, and 2990 milligrams of sodium.

Sandwiches account for some of the worst offenders on the list. If you finish a Giant Gargantuan sandwich from Jimmy John's, you'll have consumed 7720 milligrams of sodium—more than three times the daily maximum sodium intake recommended by the American Heart Association. The Boss Burger from Chili's, which contains five different types of meat, is only slightly better with 3900 milligrams of sodium. In terms of calories, the Chicken & Waffle Sliders from Dave & Buster's maxes out the list at 2340. It includes fried chicken and bacon on a Belgian waffle bun with a side of maple syrup and tater tots.

If that list of winners made you more hungry than queasy, read up on the origin stories of your favorite chain restaurants.

[h/t The Takeout]

The Disputed Origins of Publix’s Chicken Tender Subs

Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

After Popeyes released its new chicken sandwich last week, a heated battle broke out on Twitter over which fast food chain offers the best one. Favorites included Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and KFC, but the Publix chicken tender sub was mostly absent from the dialogue. Maybe it’s because Publix is a supermarket rather than a fast food restaurant, or maybe the southern chain is too specific to Florida and its neighboring states to warrant a national ranking.

Either way, the chicken tender sub is a cult culinary classic among Publix customers—there’s even an independently run website devoted to announcing when the subs are on sale (they aren’t right now), and affiliated Facebook and Twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers. So whom do sub devotees have to thank for inventing the Publix food mashup from heaven? A Facebook user named Dave Charls says, “Me!,” but Publix begs to differ.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that in May of this year, a man named Dave Charls posted a message on the “Are Publix Chicken Tender Subs On Sale?” Facebook page recounting his origin story for the menu item, which allegedly took place in 1997 or 1998. At Charls explains it, he and his co-worker Kevin convinced their friend Philip, a deli worker at the Fleming Island Publix location, to assemble a sub with chicken tenders and ring it up as one item—something that deli workers had refused to do for Dave and Kevin in the past. According to Dave, Philip then convinced his manager to make it a special, publicized it via chalkboard sign, and the idea spread like hot sauce.

“You’re welcome,” Charls said. “It was actually Kevin’s idea and Philip brought it to life.”

Publix, however, told the Tampa Bay Times that its recorded documentation for a chicken tender sub recipe and procedure goes all the way back to 1992 or 1993. Based on that information, Publix spokesperson Brian West confirmed that Charls's heroic account of the origin is more fairytale than fact (though West, unfortunately, doesn’t have an equally thrilling origin story—or any story at all—with which to replace it).

Charls didn’t respond to a request from the Tampa Bay Times for comment, so we may never know how much of his claim is actually true. It’s possible, of course, that Publix’s 1992 (or 1993) chicken tender sub recipe hadn’t gained momentum by the time Kevin’s moment of culinary genius struck in 1997 (or 1998), and the lack of date specificity suggests that neither party knows exactly how it went down. What is incontrovertible, however, is the deliciousness of Publix's beloved sub sandwich.

"I'm just happy to live in the same timeline as this beautiful sandwich," says die-hard Pub Sub fan (and Mental Floss video producer/editor) Justin Dodd. “Copyright claims aside, it's truly a wonderful thing."

This London Pub Might Be the Most Ethical Bar in the World

Ridofranz/Getty Images
Ridofranz/Getty Images

Pub owner Randy Rampersad is doing his part for sustainability. In June, he opened the Green Vic—a play on the fictional Queen Vic pub in the soap opera EastEnders—in the East London neighborhood of Shoreditch. The Telegraph reports it’s aiming to be the world’s most ethical pub: Rampersad eschews plastic and paper straws and opts for gluten-free wheat “straws.” He sources the bar's 100 percent recycled toilet paper from green-minded company Who Gives a Crap, and the communal wooden tables are upcycled.

“I wanted to make the world a better place and run my own business, but I was waiting for that eureka moment,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. He discovered no one had done anything like this before.

There’s no meat on the menu—the food is totally vegan, healthy-ish pub grub. You can add CBD oil to the “chkn" bites appetizer, and the burgers are made from ingredients like soy, seaweed, and sweet potato. The beers are produced by ethical brewers, too: Toast Ale uses unsold loaves and crusts of bread; Good Things Brewing crafts its beer from 100 percent renewable energy; South Africa’s Afro Vegan Cider donates money to an organization that funds equal pay for female farmers; and Brewgooder donates to water projects.

In fact, everything the Green Vic does has charity in mind. “We don't care about the money, I’m planet first and profit after,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. Up to 80 percent of its profits will go to charitable causes, including local food banks. As for the staff, one in four are from marginalized groups. The Green Vic plans to operate as a three-month pop-up pub while scouting for longer term investment.

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