Food

Chili's, IHOP and the Cheesecake Factory Win 2017 Xtreme Eating Awards

The awards recognize dishes at major restaurant chains that are designed to add a notch to your belt—and a major blow to healthy heart function.

Photo Credit: James R. Martin/Shutterstock

We were so close. May 5th was the deadline for menus at chain restaurants and elsewhere to post calories, a long seven years after Congress decided that Americans have a right to know what they’re eating.

But less than a week before the deadline, lobbyists for pizza chains (led by Domino’s), convenience stores, and supermarkets convinced the Trump administration not just to delay but to reopen the rules to weaken them. Sigh. 

That’s why we’re honoring Domino’s with the first Xtreme Putting Profits Before Public Health Award. Who cares about the obesity and diabetes epidemics, as long as the cash keeps rolling in to one of the nation’s premier purveyors of white flour and cheese?

Here are the awards:

1. Worst Visceral Effects

 

“More flavor than can fit on a plate,” boasts the TV ad for Chili’s Ultimate Smokehouse Combo. Make that more food than can fit on a plate. So it’s served on a tray.

“Choose any 3 meats,” says Chili’s online menu. “New smoked bone-in BBQ chicken breast, new jalapeño-cheddar smoked sausage, hand-battered Chicken Crispers or a half rack of house-smoked baby back ribs.” (The ribs will set you back an extra $2.)

We went with the sausage, the Crispers (with honey mustard sauce), and the Texas Dry Rub ribs. With the sides (roasted street corn, homestyle fries, chile-garlic toast, and garlic dill pickles), our combo was like downing threeChili’s sirloin steak dinners—that’s three 10 oz. sirloins topped with garlic butter, plus three orders of loaded mashed potatoes and three orders of steamed broccoli.

Why stop at a triple meal? Why not serve four meats and four sides? Or five?

And forget the tray. How about a trough?

2. Least Original Breakfast

IHOP offers “the kind of meal you can’t get anywhere else, not even at home,” says the chain’s website.

Well, you could make the Cheeseburger Omelette at home. But which genius at IHOP thought of adorning eggs with hamburger patty pieces, hash browns, tomatoes, onions, American cheese, ketchup, mustard, and pickles?

With a side of 3 Buttermilk Pancakes (plus butter and 2 tablespoons of syrup), it’s like eating four McDonald’s Sausage Egg McMuffins drizzled with 2 tablespoons of syrup.

And all before lunch.

3. Worst Adapted Pasta

“How can we turn a meat lover’s pizza into a pasta?” asked Donald Moore, Chief Culinary Officer at The Cheesecake Factory, in a Facebook Live video in March.

That head-scratching challenge inspired the chain’s new Pasta Napoletana, which piles Italian sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, and bacon on pasta that’s been greased with butter and cream.

As it turns out, it is like eating a Pizza Hut Meat Lover’s Personal Pan Pizza...as long as you top the pizza with three cups of pasta and a cup of heavy cream.

Check with your waiter for a list of nearby cardiac care units.

4. Worst Cheese in a Leading Role

Battered, deep-fried cheese curds are a delicacy in Wisconsin. But we doubt that anyone has piled them on a burger, tossed on cheese and two bacon strips, and drenched the whole mess with a mayo-rich “cool heat sauce.”

That is, not until Buffalo Wild Wings started serving its Cheese Curd Bacon Burger. With a side of fries, you’re looking at the equivalent of roughly five Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburgers.

Nothing like a Curdburger. Yum!

5. Worst Original Appetizer

“You’ve never tasted food & drinks like these,” says Dave & Buster’swebsite.

Ain’t that the truth. We can safely say that the world has never before witnessed “a super-cheesy 12” quesadilla served pizza-style in eight slices, stuffed with Manchego and cheddar cheeses, pepperoni, and Italian sausage, then topped with even more pepperoni and Italian sausage, plus bacon, marinara, and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.”

To your arteries and waistline, a Carnivore Pizzadilla looks like 100 slices of pepperoni layered atop two Taco Bell Cheese Quesadillas, or half a stick of butter melted over three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese. Mmm...

6. Most Damage From a Supporting Vegetable

“We provide larger portions so you get more food for your dollar,” says Texas Roadhouse.

More, indeed. The massive 16 oz. Prime Rib alone has 1,570 calories. And one of the possible sides—you get your choice of two—is a real humdinger. For an extra 99¢, the Loaded Sweet Potato (770 calories) buries the tuber under a pile of mini marshmallows and caramel sauce. Congrats. You just turned your side dish into dessert!

Add a Caesar salad as your second side, and it’s like eating two of the chain’s 12 oz. New York strip steak dinners (with mashed potatoes and vegetables), plus a slice of strawberry cheesecake.

And that doesn’t include the all-you-can-eat peanuts, rolls, and butter offered to all Roadhouse patrons. Urp.

7. Worst Cocktail Design

“A ‘kicked-up’ chocolate banana milkshake with dark chocolate and banana liqueurs.” That’s the Flying Gorilla cocktail. And the ever-Xtreme Cheesecake Factory adds just enough alcohol to make you forget that your glass contains 950 calories. How convenient.

It’s like kicking off your meal by pouring a 20 oz. Budweiser over five scoops of Breyers Chocolate ice cream.

Cheers!

8. Most Ridiculous Ending

It’s called the Ridiculously Awesome, Insanely Large Chocolate Cake.

“Nuff said,” says Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s menu.

Ditto that.

Take the Xtreme Eating quiz to test your knowledge

The information for this article was compiled by Leah Ettman and Jennifer Urban.

Lindsay Moyer is a Senior Nutritionist for Nutrition Action Healthletter, the flagship publication of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Lindsay is a Registered Dietitian and completed her dietetic internship at the National Institutes of Health with a concentration in clinical nutrition research. Lindsay earned her M.S. in Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and B.A. in Science Writing/Journalism from Lehigh University.

Bonnie Liebman is the Director of Nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, where she has been since 1977. Bonnie holds an M.S. in nutritional sciences from Cornell University. She is a co-author of Salt: The Brand Name Guide to Sodium, and served on the advisory committees that issued the American Cancer Society's 2001 and 1996 Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

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