by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Fast food

Dec 22 2008

Restaurants are adding healthier kids’ meals

Several years ago, I gave a talk to executives of restaurants like Applebee’s and Darden’s about what they could do to make it easier for people to control their weight and eat more healthfully.  I allsuggested that they make healthy kids’ meals the default.  Let parents order junk food for their kids if they want to, but set up the situation so they have to ask for it specially.  The executives went ballistic and gave all kinds of reasons why this was impossible (parental responsibility! cost! trouble!).  Lo and behold: somebody must have listened and changes are coming, or so it seems.  Let’s hope they really do this!

Dec 7 2008

The Burger King “Whopper Virgins” commercials (sigh)

I’m deluged with messages about Burger King’s “Whopper Virgin” commercials and requests to comment on them.  What could Burger King’s PR people be thinking?  Probably that if they produced something outrageous, everyone would write about it, as I am now doing.  Burger King spent a fortune to go to the ends of the earth and ask people who supposedly had never eaten a hamburger before whether they preferred a Whopper to some other unnamed hamburger.  The results are to be announced tomorrow (Monday).  Want to hazard a guess as to how this brilliant study will come out?

It’s hard to know what’s worse: the poor quality of the sponsored science, the offensiveness of the “Whopper Virgin” concept, or the condescension to the people living in those remote areas.   As they say in PR, ink is ink.

December 9 Update:  Guess which one won.

Aug 6 2008

Pizza!

I figure I might as well have some fun with my new column in the San Francisco Chronicle. The column is a Q and A, and the first sets of Qs came from the editors. This one is about pizza, things. They tell me the next questions will come from readers, and the plan is to run the column once a month.

Aug 5 2008

CSPI’s new study on kids’ menus

Center for Science in the Public Interest has a new study out on the nutrient composition of kids’ meals in fast food restaurants. Of course they are all (OK, just 93%) too high in calories. Of course the default option includes sodas (Subway is the sole exception).  If calories were on menu boards, would parents think twice about ordering these things?  Might be worth a try, given that the average child under 18, or so reports USA Today, eats 167 meals a year in restaurants.

Jul 31 2008

Note to The Economist: read the newspapers!

All The Economist has to do (see previous post) is read the press. Here are a couple of relevant items. What’s bad for restaurants is good for Kraft Foods. Its sales of all those packaged foods are growing. That’s what people are eating instead of going out, apparently. Next, the parent company of two restaurant chains–Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale–in the “casual dining” sector filed for bankruptcy. Why? Higher food costs and fewer casual diners. And McDonald’s is about to give up its popular dollar menu. I suppose there could be an upside to this, but I’m dubious. You think so? Go tell The Economist.

Jul 3 2008

Luther Burgers?

It’s getting to the Fourth of July silly season, so thanks to Jack Everitt for making sure that I know about Luther Burgers–hamburgers in a Krispy Kreme donut bun. They even have their own Wikipedia entry. Don’t you need to know about such things? This is another food joke, right? Thanks (?) Jack.

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May 13 2008

Chinese fast-food photos: source?

Three people, including my son in Los Angeles, sent me these terrific photos yesterday, ostensibly of exotic fast food in Beijing, and offered by G. Pollak. The photos are a great cross-cultural experience. But who is G. Pollak and what’s the story about them?

Apr 10 2008

Do bans on food marketing work?

Canadian food companies argue that there is no point in banning food marketing to kids because the bans don’t keep kids from becoming obese. Maybe, but I’m just back from the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue in Washington, DC, a conference in which officials from Canada and Europe discussed what they were doing to address childhood obesity on the policy level. In a word–European countries are taking the challenge seriously and are doing a lot more than we are. I was most impressed by a report about Quebec, which banned marketing to kids in 1982. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but rates of childhood obesity are lower in Quebec than in any other Canadian province. But so are fast food sales so it’s no wonder food companies are upset.