During the first semester of my freshman year, I had a double coronary bypass.
I’m referring, of course, to the notorious Double Coronary Bypass Burger offered by the Vortex Bar and Grill in Little Five Point. The burger is listed, alongside its comparatively slim cousin the Coronary Bypass Burger, under its own aptly named section on the menu: the Original Vortex Heart Stoppers.
Described by nutrition website dailyburn.com as “instant death,” the Double Coronary Bypass Burger makes every effort to live up to what the name warns you about: on top of a half-pound sirloin patty, the burger also features two fried eggs, six slices of cheese, eight pieces of bacon and a hefty glob of mayonnaise — all crammed between two grilled cheese sandwiches that take the place of a bun.
After eating this monster of a burger, which easily pushes the suggested daily total of 2,000 calories all by itself, I indeed experienced a sneaking, suspicious feeling that I might not make it through the night. I felt like my arteries were clogged by the moment I walked out of the restaurant — or actually, more like the moment my bloated body was rolled out of the restaurant by concerned friends.
But in my opinion, eating that Double Coronary Bypass Burger was still totally worth the risk — it was actually pretty delicious in all of its greasy glory, and the tales of my epic fattiness are fun to tell. Plus, I figure that I have at least an estimated four or five years or so before the heart disease from just that one burger begins to settle in.
That was one of my first encounters with utterly ridiculous food that pushes the limits of sanity.
On Monday, KFC is going to release the “Double Down” burger, which is comprised of bacon, cheese and mayonnaise between two pieces of fried chicken. And you can bet I’ll be there — some people get their thrills in life from skipping class or riding roller coasters, I get mine from eating terrible food that almost 100 percent ensures a future battle with obesity for me. You say tomato, I say to-mah-to. (Actually, no one says to-mah-to, but you get the idea.)
Sadly, not everyone is as equally a fan as me and the other fat kids at heart across the nation. The release of the “Double Down” prompted the CNN headline: “Is fat fare at fast foods going too far?” It’s no surprise that a significant factor of the population has also taken to complaining about fast-food joints and their outlandish and sometimes inappropriate marketing antics — such as KFC glorifying the borderline-gross fact that the “Double Down” is “so meaty, there’s no room for a bun” — criticizing them for contributing to the issue of childhood obesity and subjecting a generally overweight American population to further gluttonous temptations.
But these arguments baffle me almost as much as the 2,000-calorie burgers must baffle the health-oriented critics. Clearly, these critics truly do believe that fast-food joints are out to get them with their fatty products; just witness the numerous cases of lawsuits against McDonalds, filed by angry parents insisting that the fast-food joint made their kid fat.
No, sorry. I’m pretty sure you actually made your 6 year old fat all by yourself, when you decided that taking him out for a 4-piece chicken McNugget meal every other day — which packs a terrifying 26 grams of fat and more than 700 mg of sodium, by the way — would suffice as some awkward nonverbal apology for your absent parenting in the first place.
I mean, really, what’s next? Are people who contracted STDs going to start filing lawsuits against Trojan because the company didn’t send a representative to that shady motel in South Beach on spring break, just to remind them about the condom they neglected in your wallet? Probably not.
In a few cases, fast-food joints have been misleading with their marketing.
Take, for example, Taco Bell’s 900-calorie Chicken Ranch Taco Salad. This heart attack in a bag is definitely deceptively named — after all, aren’t salads good for you? —, but at the same time, the fried tortilla shell, piles of beans, rice, meat and cheese should have given just an eensy, teensy hint that the meal might be oozing with more than 50 grams of fat.
But, on the other hand, there’s really no argument against the rest of these fat-kid-dream foods — after all, the name “Double Coronary Bypass Burger” pretty much tells you exactly what you’re in for.
Additionally, even for those who have few options but to resort to fast-food options frequently due to time crunches or hurting pockets, the health issue that accompanies fast-food consumption is still easily circumvented. McDonalds’ Premium Southwest Salad only clocks in at a slender 140 calories and 150 mg of sodium. Nutritional information isn’t difficult to obtain, either — by law, fast-food joints such as McDonalds are required to give full disclosure of caloric content on their websites, and sometimes it’s available on the burger wrapper itself.
Going forward, the new health-care reform legislation signed by President Obama will soon be seeing to it that most chain restaurants make this information immediately available by listing caloric content on menu boards and on drive-through menus. So soon, consumers will have no excuse not to be well-informed concerning the toxic waste they’re dumping into their bodies well.
So really, there’s no excuse for putting the blame on the fast food industry’s shoulders. It’s just silly to see headlines like “Fat Teen Sues McDonalds” — after all, I don’t think I’ll somehow get richer by burning Benjamins or become more educated from watching MTV. Wouldn’t it would be equally laughable for me to expect my high-school jeans to still fit after eating something like the Luther Burger — a hamburger on a grilled donut bun?
Of course they won’t. But that’s the trade-off you make for that hedonistic palate of yours.
Editorials Editor Catherine Cai is a College sophomore from Atlanta.