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Food & Drink

The unhealthiest menu items in America?

| Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, 12:03 p.m.
The Cheesecake Factory’s version of the classic breakfast burrito is the “winner” of the center’s 2018 Xtreme Eating Award for the Worst Way to Start the Day, according to nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The Cheesecake Factory’s version of the classic breakfast burrito is the “winner” of the center’s 2018 Xtreme Eating Award for the Worst Way to Start the Day, according to nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

How’s this for breakfast? The Cheesecake Factory’s breakfast burrito or seven McDonald’s sausage McMuffins?

According to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, those two orders have the same nutritional equivalent.

But the Cheesecake Factory order is the “winner” of the center’s 2018 Xtreme Eating Award for the Worst Way to Start the Day.

The center describes the breakfast burrito as a “warm tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, chicken chorizo, cheese, crispy potatoes, avocado, peppers and onions, over spicy ranchero sauce” that is served with sour cream, salsa and black beans.

It said the meal has more than a day’s worth of calories (2,730), two days’ worth of sodium (4,630 milligrams) and more than three days’ worth of saturated fat (73 grams).

Since 2007, the center has “honored” the most caloric and unhealthiest dishes from some the nation’s most popular restaurant chains.

In a statement, CSPI senior nutritionist Lindsay Moyer said: “Americans are eating out more than ever before. So when restaurant chains are serving up 2,000 calories or more on a single plate, it’s easy to see why people continue to struggle with overweight, obesity, and diet-related diseases.”

The center said a day’s worth of calories is 2,000, a day’s worth of sodium is 2,300 milligrams, a day’s worth of saturated fat is 20 grams and a day’s worth of added sugar is 50 grams.

Other 2018 Xtreme Eating Award winners include:

— Worst Cinematic Snack: AMC Theatre’s Bavarian Legend pretzel weighs in at a pound and a half of mostly white flour, with tubs of nacho “cheese” and mustard for dipping. The 9-inch-wide pretzel has a day’s calories (1,920), three-quarters of a day’s saturated fat (15 grams) and more than three days’ worth of sodium (7,600 mg). That makes it saltier than any other 2018 dishonoree.

The center said it’s like eating six Auntie Anne’s Original Soft Pretzels.

— Least Creative Mashup: Chili’s Grill & Bar’s Honey-chipotle Chicken Crispers & Waffles. The battered fried chicken on Belgian waffles is topped with bacon, jalapeños and ancho-chile ranch sauce and is served with fries and honey-chipotle sauce.

The center said the “chicken and waffles on steroids is like eating five Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts smothered in 30 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and five packets of barbecue sauce.” It delivers more than a day’s calories (2,510) plus a two-day supply of saturated fat (40 grams) and sodium (4,480 mg).

The full list of “winners” for Worst Adapted Pizza (again the Cheesecake Factory), Worst Makeup, Worst Visceral Effects and other categories is available at

CSPI introduced its Xtreme Eating Awards in 2007, but this is the first year in which calories are mandatory on menus and menu boards at chains with 20 outlets or more.

Officials with Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s and AMC couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on nutrition and food safety policies.


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