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Taking breakfast to the land of extreme sports
By Ben Grabow
Scripps Howard News Service


April 03, 2005

The symptoms begin immediately: Loss of appetite, nausea, sweating, and painful bloating. A craving for orange juice may be present.

If you or anyone you know has eaten the new Burger King Enormous Omelet, seek help immediately.

With two slices of American cheese, two eggs, three strips of bacon, and a sausage patty piled on a gigantic hoagie roll, you would think that ingesting one of these monsters would mean certain death. And maybe that's the appeal; breakfast as an extreme sport.

Weighing in at 730 calories and 47 grams of fat, this breakfast sandwich is the new standard in unabashed fast-food excess. Marketed heavily to the young, the stupid, and the male, the Enormous Omelet has all the dangerous appeal of mountain biking or skateboarding, without the whole exercise thing.

Feeling extreme? You would have to skateboard like Tony Hawk for two solid hours to work this sandwich off. Feeling a little less extreme than that? A 10-mile walk would burn those calories, too.

Unfortunately, you can't walk a half mile in any given suburb without running into one fast-food joint or another. And God help you if you run into a Hardees.

Hardees started this trend with the 1,400-calorie Monster Thickburger, an obscenely unhealthy take-no-prisoners Rambo burger with two 1/3 pound Angus beef patties, two slices of cheese, two layers of bacon and a slathering of mayonnaise.

Add a large fry and wash that sucker down with a 32-ounce Coke and you've got yourself 2,333 calories of greasy, sugary, meaty goodness. At five calories a minute, it would take nearly eight hours of extreme badminton to earn that lunch.

With the recent national movement towards healthier eating, the marketing of these pornographic portions seems to be counterintuitive. The major fast-food chains are certainly moving in the other direction.

McDonalds and Wendy's, the true king and queen of today's fast-food landscape, have been embracing the healthy trend. Wendy's has begun to offer baked potatoes and side salads in lieu of the standard medium fry. They also allegedly offer index-finger chili, but that's another column entirely.

After consumers nationwide saw the unfortunate effects of an all-McDonalds diet in the documentary "Super Size Me," new menu items began to appear while other, less healthy items were phased out. The classic apple pies are gone, but apple slices are available for Happy Meals.

Meanwhile, the lesser burger franchises have found a sure fire way to stand out in the crowd. Knowing that not everyone wants to find a lousy apple slice in their bag of cheeseburgers, they have embraced the original ideals of American cuisine: Make it as big as possible, serve it as fast as possible, and whenever possible, add bacon. If you deep-fry it, they will come.

Like smoking and "American Idol," fast-food is one of those temptations that we Americans continue to indulge regardless of the consequences. We may get cancer or lose our higher brain functions, but it's our right to do so. And the fact that these temptations are proven to be bad almost makes them seem even better.

So, after everything we now know about fast food and its key role in childhood and adult obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, will these massive hamburgers and insanely large breakfast sandwiches really sell well enough to remain on the menu?

The answer, it seems, is a loudly-belched "yes."


Ben Grabow writes for the young, the urban, and the easily amused.
Contact him at thinlyread(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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