Cheesecake Factory owns a health advocate’s list of meals with most calories


A slice of “Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake” at a Cheescake Factory restaurant in Boston. (REUTERS/Dominick Reuter)

Don’t for a minute think that the Cheesecake Factory makes the most caloric meal in America.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s “Xtreme Eating Awards” — which, with a healthy dose of irony, celebrate unhealthy food — that honor belongs to Red Robin. The 470-store chain offers a “Monster Meal” that includes an “A.1. Peppercorn” burger with bacon, “Bottomless Steak Fries” and a “Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake.” That combo destroys the competition with 3,540 calories. (The USDA recommends moderately active adults get about 2,000 calories per day, though recommended counts change by gender and age.)

Still, just like when “Crash” won the Best Picture Oscar that seemed destined to go to “Brokeback Mountain,” the Cheesecake Factory won’t be ignored.

Its “French Toast Napoleon”: 2,900 calories.

Boom.

Its “Bruléed French Toast”: 2,780 calories, 93 grams of saturated fat, 2,230 milligrams of sodium and 24 teaspoons of sugar.

As serious as a heart attack.

And its “Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake”: 1,500 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat and 21 teaspoons of sugar.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest's Xtreme Eating Awards went to nine "winning" chain restaurant meals especially high in calories, fat, sugar and salt. The Cheesecake Factory got three of them. (Tom LeGro/The Washington Post)

As CSPI pointed out: It would take four-and-a-half hours of aerobics to neutralize that weapon of mass construction.

CSPI, who created the awards, had a clear message: Those who enter that calorie-slinging hole at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Military Road do so at their own peril.

“We’re giving a special XXXtreme Eating award to The Cheesecake Factory,” the center wrote in a press release. “It took three of our nine coveted spots … and, as usual, it could easily have filled all nine. Congrats!”

This isn’t the first time the Cheesecake Factory has been targeted by the health-conscious.

Last year, the editors of Men’s Health said the chain made “The Worst Food in America” in “Eat This, Not That! 2013“: “For the 3rd year in a row, the bastion of gluttony known as the Cheesecake Factory received the top prize in our contest of diet debauchery. We give the chain props for rolling out some lighter options as of late, but its menu is still home to the most caloric fare in the country.”

Calorie concerns don’t seem to have affected the Cheesecake Factory’s stock, which is trading not far below all-time highs.

Still, competition is getting robust.

When we were screening candidates for the first Xtreme Eating awards in 2007, we were shocked to see 1,500-calorie entrées,” the Center wrote. “This year, nearly all of our ‘winners’ hit (or just missed) the 2,000-calorie mark. And a few doozies topped 3,000.” 

The Cheesecake Factory did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE

The Cheesecake Factory responds:

“With more than 200 menu items, The Cheesecake Factory has always been about choices.  

 

Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories.  Others want to share their dish – and we love it when guests share – that’s a great sign that our portions are generous – and a large percentage of our guests take home leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

For our calorie conscious guests we have our award-winning SkinnyLicious® Menu featuring more than 50 delicious choices under 590 calories – which is actually larger than many restaurants entire menus.

 

Every dish on our SkinnyLicious® Menu has the same signature rich taste that you would expect from The Cheesecake Factory.  We’ve truly redefined what “lower calorie” tastes like.”

 

–       Alethea Rowe, Senior Director of Public Relations

Justin Wm. Moyer is a reporter for The Washington Post's Morning Mix. Follow him on Twitter: @justinwmmoyer.

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