I’m wondering if either the city of Soundview or state of Cascadia passed a law requiring fast food places to post their calories on their menu. I stopped by Jack in the Box on Saturday morning and they’d put stickers with the calorie count all over their drive-through menu. I’m thinking that Jack did not do this as a gesture of good will because it was pretty shocking. That fast food is unhealthy is hardly news, but I figured that Jack was about like the rest of them. Turns out that they stack up pretty poorly with McDonald’s, which is the general point-of-comparison that I make.

The biscuit sandwich I was going to get is 740 calories, compared to 570 for McDonalds. At McDonalds, you can get a sausage McMuffin with egg and cheese for 465 calories. No such tasty sandwich exists at Jack for under 500 calories except a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese biscuit (which is comparable in health content to McD’s). Roughly half of Jack’s breakfast menu is over 500 calories compared to about a third for McDonald’s.

The dinner menu is little better. McDonald’s only has one burger over 600 calories (Double Quarter Pounder, 740) and Jack in the Box had at least a dozen with half of those being over 1,000.

I’ve gotten into debates in the past over whether restaurants should be forced to put up nutritional content. Some say that the motivation behind doing so is to shame fat people and that anybody eating at fast food restaurants is obviously not worried about health content. To some extent they’re right on the latter part, but I’m not sure if that’s sufficient. Some people aren’t overly worried about counting calories, but I think that it is in general a really good idea to remind people how many calories that they’re consuming. One of the most successful dieting maneuvers in existence is simply keeping track of how much you consume in a day. People are notoriously forgetful when it comes to everything that they’ve eaten in a day but they remember better when each thing has a number value assigned to it. Even if you don’t set yourself up with limits and even if you don’t have a calculator with you, it still helps you realize where exactly your greatest dietary sins are and almost always provides easier ways to cut back.

By eating at McDonald’s rather than Jack in the Box, for instance.

It makes the really unhealthy stuff much less enjoyable. It’ll be a while before I eat another Ultimate Cheeseburger, for sure.

Category: Kitchen

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9 Responses to Jack and Mac and the Calorie Wars

  1. Becky says:

    I was actually about to do a post on this. The state passed a law that said restaurants have a certain amount of locations must now publish their nutritional information. I was surprised at some things that I thought were really bad actually have fewer calories than things that I thought were better for me (i.e. a hamburger compared to a chicken wrap). Also, I think it’s kind of a half-ass law b/c if the intention is to educate the public on what they’re eating so they can make better choices, it’s only valid if it’s a chain restaurant (and up where I live, we mostly eat at independents anyway).

    I feel like I just wrote half my post with this comment 🙂

  2. Peter says:

    New York City (but not State) has has a calorie-posting rule for around six months. Getting the thing enacted was quite a struggle because the restaurant industry fought hard against it. It applies to restaurants that have at least 15 outlets nationwide (not just in the city) and serve items with standard ingredients and portions.

    You are correct, some of the calorie counts are surprising. And seldom in a good way. For instance, I was at an Au Bon Pain recently to get some soup. While the calorie counts for most types of soup are reasonable, if you get it served in the “bread bowls” that have become increasingly popular, you’ve just added over 500 calories.

  3. trumwill says:


    Beware of wrapped items and beware of crispy chicken. Crispy chicken seems to very wildly from one place to the next and even within a single place. For wrapped items… you ever eat at Chipotle’s? You might think “Hey, grilled chicken burrito. How many calories could that possibly have?” The answer is 1050. It’s still worth it as a periodic treat, but it’s no wonder I gained weight in Estacado.

  4. trumwill says:


    I’m too much the hick to even know what a “bread bowl” is, but I think I have an idea. Bread is one of those areas of massive unnoticed calories consumed.

  5. David Alexander says:

    Some people aren’t overly worried about counting calories, but I think that it is in general a really good idea to remind people how many calories that they’re consuming.

    I’m probably in the category of people who don’t count calories, but that’s generally because I’m 5’8 and 135 lbs and have a somewhat small stomach. In other words, I’ll eat at McDonalds around 4 PM, and I’ll end up substituting dinner with a snack later in the evening. Mind you, I don’t magically ignore calories, but I just see the need to pay as much attention as others would.

    Jack in the Box

    When I was in San Francisco in May, it would have been nice to go to Carl Jr or Jack in the Box, but I didn’t stumble upon any during my trip until the last night I was there, and it was too late to have some.

  6. David Alexander says:

    I must add that while McDonalds may have lower calorie counts, the question one should ask is if meal is better than its higher calorie counterpart at Jack in the Box.

  7. trumwill says:

    My friend Kyle had this incredibly annoying habit of getting full when he was eating too much and then not eating anymore. Drove me crazy as I agonized over whether or not to finish my plate.

  8. Peter says:

    I’m too much the hick to even know what a “bread bowl” is, but I think I have an idea. Bread is one of those areas of massive unnoticed calories consumed.

    Wikipedia has a short but helpful article on bread bowls. In fact, I (ahem) just edited it, to add the information about calorie courts.

    Salad dressings are another major source of “stealth” calories, especially for women.

  9. trumwill says:

    Yeah, that’s what I thought a bread bowl was. I think I’ve seen one before. Man… looks tasty.

    I don’t know about dressing and calories, but dressing is a great way to add a lot of fat to something that’s supposed to be healthy. A salad is only healthy until I get a hold of it…

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