HolyCoast: How to Make Your Fast Food Menu Look Healthier Without Even Trying

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Make Your Fast Food Menu Look Healthier Without Even Trying

My favorite fast food place is Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill.  The food's a little pricey, but it's good quality and you get plenty of it.  The other night I hit their Mission Viejo Mall location for their "Taco Tuesday" deal and was a bit surprised when the cashier told me the combo plates now come with rice and beans instead of chips and beans, but I could have chips instead of rice if I wanted (I did).  I asked why the change had been made after all these years and she told me they decided to make the meal "healthier".

Yes, by giving you basically tasteless rice instead of tasty chips and salsa.  And they've also dropped the drink from the combo plate, which further reduces the calorie count since they have to report calories as though you're buying a non-diet drink.

I noticed another change in the menu board.  My favorite item at Rubio's is the Shrimp Burrito which also comes with chips...until now.   There's now a notation at the top of the burrito selection that says "chips may be added for free upon request - 260 calories".  What they've done is removed the chips from the burrito plates...and the 260 calories...in order to make their selections appear to be more healthy.  In fact, it's the same burrito you could have gotten before, you just have to ask for the chips now.

Now, this is not intended to be a knock on Rubio's, but more a criticism of the food Nazis who seem intent on forcing us all to eat what they approve and not necessarily what we want.  Recent regulations have required restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus, and while that's probably a good thing, it creates situations like the one above in which food purveyors are required to play games with their menus in order to stay politically correct.

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