Food Laws (Inspired by Cheesecake Factory)


For those who don’t know, back in July, I started counting calories using My Net Diary. I’ve been limiting myself to 2,000 calories a day for the last month. Between that and working out five days a week, I’ve managed to lose about 30 pounds. I’d like to lose another 30, although I fear that I’ve hit a plateau, and not just because, with the start of my job, I can’t go to the gym anymore except for Fridays and Sundays. I used to do 2 hours a day, Monday-Friday.

Now… now I have to rebudget my time and figure out what to do…

But anyways… now that I’m counting calories, I’m always looking for nutrition information, and I’ve discovered that eating out is quite a bit harder. Granted, there are new laws that say that restaurants with more than 20 locations have to provide that information. This is not, however, enforced. At least not yet.

And I know this because of Cheesecake Factory.

Cheesecake Factory is not that bad of a place to eat. The food is good and so is the cheesecake.

Not as good as my mom’s homemade cheesecake, of course, but still good.

However, I hadn’t eaten Cheesecake Factory for a few months before I started counting calories. And I wouldn’t until three weeks ago. I shared a Classic Burger with a friend. And I had to input this half of a burger into My Net Diary.

So I searched for Cheesecake Factory’s nutrition information, assuming that, since they have to by law, the information would be online.

Boy was I surprised.

At first, I found that Cheesecake Factory’s website was utterly devoid of the information I was looking for. This made absolutely no sense. I checked their FAQ, and found this:

At this time, we do not provide nutritional information for our menu selections on our website. We pride ourselves on using only the freshest and finest ingredients available. Everything on our menu is made in-house on a daily basis so that we can maintain the highest food quality standards.

WHAT?!?!?!?

What the fuck does that even mean?

So I went to Google, and found this page.

Please take a moment to read through that. In fact, take an hour. Let it sink in, so you understand why I have chosen to never eat at Cheesecake Factory again.

Considering that 2,000 calories is the recommended daily caloric intake for all people, this is fucking disgusting.

For the record, the burger that I ate half of was 1375 calories, which means I had 687.5 calories. This does not include fries or a drink. A single serving of Cheesecake Factory’s french fries is 574 calories.

I would like to compare this to the Burger King Whopper Sandwich Meal, size large. The calories, as you can see there, is 1550. That’s also a lot of calories, but that includes the large fries and a large coke.

Think about that. The burger itself is only 670 calories. Not half of it… the whole damn burger. The large french fries are 500 calories. And a large coke is 380 calories.

One single Classic Burger at Cheesecake Factory is 1375 calories. It takes a full meal at BK to make 1550 calories.

In other words, in terms of caloric content, at least, Burger King is healthier than Cheesecake Factory.

I can’t be the only one disgusted by this. If a Burger King burger can have less calories than a Cheesecake Factory burger, then how is Cheesecake Factory worth it unless you’ve starved yourself the prior two days, and then skipped the cheesecake?

Making this discovery has led me to a position… a position that Libertarians across the US will hate with a passion:

I believe that the government should force all establishments that deal in some way with food to provide nutrition information in easily-accessible forms; online, by request at the restaurant, store, or wherever.

Now, doing some searching, I did come across this blog post from Grande Pizza, Co:

A recent research study from Tufts University in Boston shows that the calorie counts on menus, when subjected to random checks, are often off (sometimes way off).  Reuters covered the study here. The problem comes from the way food is made.  Especially good food that isn’t just microwaved, factory-processed stuff like you get at some chain fast food joints.  Real, good food like pizza is a recipe of art. Not every pizza comes out the same as the last because each one has something unique about it.  Maybe the chef didn’t use quite as much salt or maybe a little extra cheese made it on or perhaps the oven baked it for 30 seconds longer than the one before.. whatever it is, it’s changed.

A very good point. But I have an idea around this.

I have an idea for a type of dinner-theatre bar. Essentially, I want to build a speak-easy. But in order to distinguish it from a rather skeevy bar, the entire staff (except for the chefs) we’d hire would be student actors and actresses, who would write and perform skits with the intent of drawing the customers into the early 20th century, during the Prohibition era. There will be an escape room, of course, where customers who aren’t interested in experiencing the 1920’s will be able to go and watch a game (or any show… preferably on small TVs at each table, if possible), connect to the internet, use the restroom, etc.

One of the things I plan to provide is complete nutrition information for the menu (including all the alcohol we serve, if I can get my hands on it). However, as the full blog post indicates, food is a work of art. Chef’s don’t make the same thing twice. Which means, at a lot of restaurants, if nutrition info is provided, it’s relative, not exact; subject to change.

So how do I get around this?

Simple.

There will be a disclaimer on the nutrition facts that they are relative. But, we’ll always have the recipes handy, and, for a little extra, a customer who’s counting calories (like me) can have their order made “to exact specifications of the recipe”, so that they can get as close to the exact counts as provided with the nutritional information.

Restaurants that make their food fresh can do this, as a way to provide great customer service and make a little extra money at the same time. The only extras it really requires are measuring utensils and equipment (which restaurants should have already anyways) and a database to store the recipes.

Simple, easy, great customer service, and extra money.

How could that be a bad thing?

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About Nathan Hevenstone

I hate straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men. I also play guitar and sing, and I'm an atheist and anti-theist. What now?
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