Supersize v Superskinny (UK)

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chefrow

Assistant Cook
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
22
Portions are increasing but proper nutrition is decreasing. I've found that I am actually eating more now that I am eating healthy.

I used to have two huge meals a day and then I'd snack on some unhealthy chips and cookies. Now, I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and have two-three small snacks during the day. I think the important thing is getting people to eat the right things, they don't have to cut back on portions. Just make sure what they are eating is healthy.
 

Greg Who Cooks

Executive Chef
Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
3,794
Location
in my kitchen
What they can control is how much food they serve and charge for. In any sales business, the more you sell, the more money you make. You can't just charge more for the same food. You have to provide more food in a meal, if you want to charge more for the meal and make more profit. You cannot do it with two-for-one deals. People will not buy two hamburgers, just to get the second one at a lower price. But they will pay more for a bigger burger, if it's available and seems like a good deal. To do this, a restaurant must increase the plate size, too. That plate size becomes the standard. You want customer to want a full plate. Once all this begins, all the competing restaurants must follow, else they appear to be offering inferior value. And the restaurant plate becomes the home standard, also. If you happen to buy a 1940's home that has not been updated, you may well find that the kitchen cabinets will not accommodate a modern dinner plate.

Buffets, when they could be found, were once limited to plain "American" food. Now, the majority are Chinese. And such things as "endless pasta bowls" are featured at Italian chains. Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food are among the cheapest to produce and among the most profitable in very large portions.

Now, let's all go out for a Cheesecake Factory Ranch House Burger

tumblr_ly2kdi97q21r9hctao1_500.jpg


Opps. Looks like that 1,900 calorie wonder was listed too many times on the worst hamburger lists. We'll just have to go on over to Chili's for the Chili's Southern Smokehouse Bacon Burger, only 2,290 calories with fries.

l.jpg

Very excellent post! I particularly enjoyed your analysis of the fast food industry in the first paragraph, which is IMO spot on!

And those hamburgers! They look like tongues hanging out, thirsting to supersize my waist line. I hate to say but I relish the pictures.

Pavlov's dogs...
 

Greg Who Cooks

Executive Chef
Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
3,794
Location
in my kitchen
I should add my own speculation on why the phenomenon didn't take hold so much in Europe. In the U.S., the restaurant experience is largely get in, eat, get out. It's not just "fast food" places that boast of speed. Actual sit-down restaurants anticipate that customers want speed, and the "lunch break" at work is strictly limited, and the clock haunts any lunch outing. The goal is to stuff as many as possible in the least possible time. The American restaurant grew up in an atmosphere of great industrial vigor where getting right back to work mattered to bosses who were riding the economic miracle and where the work ethic that converted the whole middle U.S. to cultivation transferred to industrial work.

The European experience of lunching at leisure as a social experience is not common in the U.S. Here, I will not, as I did in Marseille, go to lunch with several friends and spend two hours at lunch in a very reasonable fish restaurant where the owner gets involved in everyone getting to sample his favorites. I will find coffee shops where I can sit indefinitely, mostly outdoors, but they will be strictly self-serve. There will be no place where a waiter will serve and no one will object or be surprised if I sit there for a few hours and read while nursing my one beer. Both the restaurant and the cafe will charge more than I would expect in the U.S., charging as much for the space as the beer. And the fish will excellent and alive that morning and will be served in a reasonable portion that is intended to be enjoyed without hurry. There is a difference in approaches to eating in which offering larger portions does not appear to be greater value, because the value is in more than the food itself. No benefit for larger plates. And, of course, we know well that eating slowly results in eating less. In America, we did to eating what we did to everything else, made it more efficient, got more of it done in less time.

America used to be like this (at least more so) in the '70s. I used to be wined and dined by vendors (electronic supply houses and me in my engineering job and able to decide which vendors to use) and I used to go out for 90+ minute lunches all the time, wine and dinner type entrees. We chatted about our business for sometimes 2+ hours or more even.

Then sometimes in the '80s this became frowned upon, and I began to frown too. The liquor made me sleepy all afternoon and the business became more go-getter. I adopted a policy of no liquor at lunch if I intended to work later in the afternoon, companies adopted a more strict policy of lunch hours even among "exempt" employees (including me in management) and eventually the vendors decided the well dried up too.

These days I doubt if any but the very few at the very top do that. And if I was at the very top I wouldn't do it simply because I lose my edge if I eat too much food or consume liquor at lunch.

Even these days now that I'm retired I won't imbibe before 5 p.m. nor do I eat large lunches, or often any lunch at all.

I'd rather linger over dinner, with friends and family.
 

Greg Who Cooks

Executive Chef
Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
3,794
Location
in my kitchen
I order from the children's menu. And if they give me a hard time, I order a glass or water or cup of coffee. They don't want a customer sitting there drinking just water, while everyone else is eating. I usually get my way. And I have noticed that a lot of restaurants in my area now have senior menus with a lower price. I get overwhelmed when there is too much food on my plate. I have had the waitperson take my dish away even before they set it down. I tell them to have the kitchen take half the food off the plate and put the remaining on a smaller plate. I am one of those persons you don't want to take out to eat. I am a constant source of embarrassment. :huh:

Although I rarely frequent fast food restaurants I always order water and I've never been hassled.

One odd thing. When you ask for water they give you the littlest possible cup, and when you go to fill it there are no tops for cups that size. It's really a problem if you're intending to take out and eat your food elsewhere. No top = water spills in car.

I always go back and ask them "either give me a top for this small cup or give me a cup for my water that you have a top for." They always give me a bigger cup.

Like what, do they think I'm going to order water and then fill it with their expensive Coca Cola?
 

GLC

Head Chef
Joined
Oct 27, 2011
Messages
1,215
Location
Near Austin, Texas
No. But the corporate inventory counts cups and presumes each cup represents sales of that size drink. That's why so many places have a special paper "water cup." It's not practical, given the vagaries of fountain adjustment, to inventory the syrup. The actual syrup in a drink is worth only a few cents, at most. So they count cups, largely to prevent employees from giving free drinks to their friends. It matters, because the profit is huge from drinks. If they give you a regular drinks cup, it's likely that they log it as destroyed to keep inventory right. But they don't want so many on the log that it looks like they abuse the system.
 

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Messages
49,799
Location
Massachusetts
No. But the corporate inventory counts cups and presumes each cup represents sales of that size drink. That's why so many places have a special paper "water cup." It's not practical, given the vagaries of fountain adjustment, to inventory the syrup. The actual syrup in a drink is worth only a few cents, at most. So they count cups, largely to prevent employees from giving free drinks to their friends. It matters, because the profit is huge from drinks. If they give you a regular drinks cup, it's likely that they log it as destroyed to keep inventory right. But they don't want so many on the log that it looks like they abuse the system.


Counting cups is old school and very inefficient.

Most fast food joints have computerized cash registers. The order taker presses a button labeled BIG MAC, FRIES, COKE and another for size and another for quantity of item and it's recorded in the sales category. An instant after the order is taken, they know at corporate what and how much was sold.
 

Greg Who Cooks

Executive Chef
Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
3,794
Location
in my kitchen
No. But the corporate inventory counts cups and presumes each cup represents sales of that size drink. That's why so many places have a special paper "water cup." It's not practical, given the vagaries of fountain adjustment, to inventory the syrup. The actual syrup in a drink is worth only a few cents, at most. So they count cups, largely to prevent employees from giving free drinks to their friends. It matters, because the profit is huge from drinks. If they give you a regular drinks cup, it's likely that they log it as destroyed to keep inventory right. But they don't want so many on the log that it looks like they abuse the system.

You're probably right. Next time I visit a fast food joint I'm going to request an extra-large water and see what they do. ;)

Counting cups is old school and very inefficient.

Most fast food joints have computerized cash registers. The order taker presses a button labeled BIG MAC, FRIES, COKE and another for size and another for quantity of item and it's recorded in the sales category. An instant after the order is taken, they know at corporate what and how much was sold.

They should put a video camera on the drink dispenser and integrate it with the inventory dispenser inventory delivery system and the cash register POS system, and then set off an alarm when somebody orders water and takes some of their valuable syrup.

Only partly kidding. I don't mind getting up 2-3 times for more water if I'm eating in, and don't even mind getting a small water if I'm DWE (driving while eating), but I do mind like hell having my water spill.

No I don't really DWE. Sometimes I'd rather eat in my car so I can be with my dog instead of being with the fast food joint's scrofulous customers. My dog is better than most of the people I see in fast food joints. Well to me anyway.
 

Addie

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
22,295
Location
East Boston, MA
I had a neighbor who had a relative that was a district manager for Mickey D. Most of her job was keeping count of the cups used in each establishment. She also had to keep track of the happy meal toys. Sometimes extras were packed. She would take these herself and give them to my neighbor's kids. Her whole job was count, count, count. No thanks. Corporate obsessiveness. :(
 

DaveSoMD

Master Chef
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 11, 2008
Messages
7,338
Location
Maryland
You're probably right. Next time I visit a fast food joint I'm going to request an extra-large water and see what they do. ;)

Most fast food places sell bottled water now, not from the dispenser. I know McD, BK, & Wendy's do.

I always order water or iced tea when we go out for lunch at a non-fast food place and tea at fast food places.
 

Vanilla Bean

Master Chef
Joined
Jan 2, 2009
Messages
7,130
Location
Washington State
Most fast food places sell bottled water now, not from the dispenser. I know McD, BK, & Wendy's do.

I always order water or iced tea when we go out for lunch at a non-fast food place and tea at fast food places.

Me too, I only order soda once in a great while. When Mark and I go to BK (sorry people, I love the Whopper and have to pig-out now and then :pig:), I always get iced tea. They have the best iced tea. Sometimes, I'll just go there for the iced tea.
 

Vanilla Bean

Master Chef
Joined
Jan 2, 2009
Messages
7,130
Location
Washington State
Here's what the people who study the phenomenon say. Restaurants have very few business factors they can control. They cannot control rents, utilities, or the unit cost of food. Not can they really control salaries which become fairly standardized. Nor can they control the number of customers who come to eat.

What they can control is how much food they serve and charge for. In any sales business, the more you sell, the more money you make. You can't just charge more for the same food. You have to provide more food in a meal, if you want to charge more for the meal and make more profit. You cannot do it with two-for-one deals. People will not buy two hamburgers, just to get the second one at a lower price. But they will pay more for a bigger burger, if it's available and seems like a good deal. To do this, a restaurant must increase the plate size, too. That plate size becomes the standard. You want customer to want a full plate. Once all this begins, all the competing restaurants must follow, else they appear to be offering inferior value. And the restaurant plate becomes the home standard, also. If you happen to buy a 1940's home that has not been updated, you may well find that the kitchen cabinets will not accommodate a modern dinner plate.

Buffets, when they could be found, were once limited to plain "American" food. Now, the majority are Chinese. And such things as "endless pasta bowls" are featured at Italian chains. Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food are among the cheapest to produce and among the most profitable in very large portions.

Some notable examples. In 1972, the McDonald's "Quarter-Pounder" was considered a large hamburger. It was large. It's original 1955 burger was a "one point two ouncer."

ILDESmcdext_1443.jpg


A "large" pizza was once 10 or 12 inches. Pizza is still cut into the same eight slices. But a little geometry will reveal the way in which area increases as diameter increases, and the 1/8 pizza slice gets about 2/3 bigger. In my youth, Coke came in 8 ounce bottles or was served at a fountain in a glass that might barely hold 8 ounces. The standard dinner plate was ten inches. It is not 12 inches. A 10-inch plate has an area of 78.5 square inches. A 12-inch plate is 113 sq. in. And remember how you have to allow for the original coffee "cup" when you buy a coffee maker. People do fill the plate and the cup, and they tend to eat and drink it all.

Now, let's all go out for a Cheesecake Factory Ranch House Burger

tumblr_ly2kdi97q21r9hctao1_500.jpg


Opps. Looks like that 1,900 calorie wonder was listed too many times on the worst hamburger lists. We'll just have to go on over to Chili's for the Chili's Southern Smokehouse Bacon Burger, only 2,290 calories with fries.

l.jpg
Addie is going to cringe (joking), but I have even made burgers like that. I'll have to go find a picture of a monster burger I made once.

As far as restaurant portions, it doesn't really bother me. Like someone said, if you can't eat it, take the rest home to have it for lunch the next day, etc. The only time I have not asked for a doggy bag/container is when Mark and I have been on the motorcycle.

I like all kinds of things. Sometimes I'm in the mood for big portions, sometimes I'm not. I will agree, though, that this country loves it's food... all cuisines!
 
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GLC

Head Chef
Joined
Oct 27, 2011
Messages
1,215
Location
Near Austin, Texas
Counting cups is old school and very inefficient.

Most fast food joints have computerized cash registers. The order taker presses a button labeled BIG MAC, FRIES, COKE and another for size and another for quantity of item and it's recorded in the sales category. An instant after the order is taken, they know at corporate what and how much was sold.

That tells them how many they received payment for. Counting stock and comparing it to what was supplied to the store is the only way to detect theft and sloppy destruction of supplies. It doesn't sound like a big deal, because you would think it would be hard to steal and destroy much in a fast food joint. But a sloppy cook and manager too inept to manage preparation and staff giving food away and taking it home happens enough that the total in a chain of stores is a lot of money. It is a huge problem at WalMart, and I made a fair number of criminal cases on their young checkers letting friends' purchases past the scanner or scanning a lesser price. They tended to be very large thefts, because they grew a large circle of "friends" who went through their line daily. They have good internal security. But not as good as Target. They have the best I'd ever seen and appeared to spend the most on good security and top technology.

A lifetime ago, I made pizzas. Corporate insisted that all failed and rejected pizzas be wrapped and returned to corporate to be credited. Computer analysis would invariably spot a heavy handed cook who used too much topping or a stingy one who was making an inferior product.

And another poster talked about a manager taking home extra toys that turned up in Happy Meals. In most corporation stores, that would get you fired instantly, if discovered. To corporate, minor theft is reason to suspect major theft. Another lifetime ago, I managed for Southland, the 7-Eleven operator. One store manager was increasing his store's profits (to lessen the impact of shoplifting) by going to the 5&10 store and buying small toys that he marked up three times and sold by the register. Instant termination, because money that's off the books is too easy to steal.
 

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