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Supersizing

May 22, 2021 | Trends

To appeal to America’s insatiable appetite for the supersized, Carpinteria, Calif.-based Carl’s Jr. (and Hardee’s) launched the “Most American Thickburger” in June 2015, beguilingly promoted by Sports Illustrated 2014 Swimsuit Issue Rookie of the Year Samantha Hoopes (pictured). The Thickburger borrows another page from the Generation X-tasy playbook of excess by catering to the undisciplined world of over-eating.

The Most American Thickburger combines a hotdog, cheeseburger, potato chips, condiments, lettuce, and tomato all on a bun. The 1/2-pound version (it also comes in 1/3- and 1/4-pound variations) tips the scales at 1,190 calories, 29g of saturated fat, plus a whopping 3,170mg of sodium. No wonder the obesity trend has become a global epidemic, hence the term “Globesity.”

It all started back in 1978:

  • The Cheesecake Factory – Company founder David Overton ignited the supersized food portion trend in 1978 when he opened the first Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif. His menu moves were promptly imitated by many other restaurants over the next three decades. Overton claims the extra-large portions are appreciated by restaurant patrons “ because of the perceived value.” In a morbidly obese 308-item menu, Cheesecake Factory diners can find such items as Bruléed French Toast, which serves up nearly 2,800 calories and 93 grams of saturated fat, or a Breakfast Burrito with 2,730 calories and 73 grams of fat. It’s not entirely clear what perceived value these preposterous menu items offer.
  • Restaurant calories – While restaurant meals make up only 20% of the average American’s calories, most are unhealthy, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition.
  • Xtreme Eating awards – In the past, NBC’s Today Show regularly covered many of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) annual Xtreme Eating award “winners,” including in 2015, 2016, and 2017. The change of pace may have something to do with NBC canceling “The Biggest Loser” in 2016.
  • Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest – Who could ever have imagined that one person would be able to consume 74 hot dogs, including buns, or 21,000 calories, in 10 minutes? Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest draws participants from all over the world who vie for the world’s most absurdly gluttonous title. The contest is an unqualified signpost of excess because this Generation X-tasy event is so disgusting, it’s virtually unwatchable.
  • Portion sizes – The supersizing trend has made portion sizes of all kinds of foods and beverages expand as fast as the waistline. Just 20 years ago, the average bagel served was three inches and contained 140 calories. Today, the average bagel is six inches and has more than twice the calories, 350. Similarly, muffins have grown in weight from 1.5 oz. to 4 oz., while more than doubling their caloric content, from 210 to 500 calories.
  • Marketing role – Aggressive U.S. marketers sow the seeds of obesity early, brainwashing 8- to 12-year-old children with 21 commercials a day, on average, just for food, equal to some 7,600 ads per year, according to a 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation study. Most of these kids consume processed food saturated with high-fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients. And when they get older, they hang on the words of Samantha Hoopes in a Carl’s Jr. ad.

And in a marketing technique that resembles a dark pattern, bars at airports and movie concession stands rely on a tried-and-true trick to make customers eat and drink more: Would you like to me to supersize your order for just a fill-in-the-blank more? Who in their hoodwinked mind could say no? 🍔🍟🥤😅

Ubertrend Categorization: Generation X-tasy.

Michael Tchong’s Ubertrends book
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