Thursday, April 15, 2010

It Aint Just McDonalds...

With all the discussion over obesity in America, we're always quick to blame McDonalds for providing us with the means and opportunity. What people don't often do is look at their favorite coffee shop and morning coffee with the same criticism.

The other morning at Dunkin Donuts, I heard a young-ish man walk up and ask for the following, "A medium iced, extra-extra, with two shots of caramel."

For those not from New England, let me translate. He ordered a medium iced coffee with extra sugar, extra cream, and two shots of caramel syrup. At Dunkin, a medium iced drink is 24 oz. That's 4 "cups" on your home coffee pot or two 12-oz mugs. Dunkin doesn't list that exact combination on their nutrition website, but a medium iced with a single dose of cream and sugar and no caramel is 288 calories, 14.4 grams of fat, and 48mg of cholesterol. Since most of that comes from the cream and sugar and he ordered "extra-extra," let's double it (576 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 96 mg of cholesterol).

As it turns out, Dunkin offers two different types of caramel flavoring. The "Caramel Swirl" added to their espresso drinks is standard, sugar-laden caramel sauce like you'd find on an ice cream sundae or a caramel latte. The caramel flavored coffee uses a sugar free caramel flavoring. This gets around having to brew multiple types of beans. I don't know which Linkthe young man received in his coffee, but having been a barista, I know that a "shot" usually means the sugar syrup. If we make that assumption, a "shot" is 1.5oz and two shots is 3oz (not to be confused with a "double shot" because Dunkin doesn't work with alcohol jiggers)... According to Smuckers, a 3-oz serving of caramel syrup is 300 calories, no fat, no cholesterol.

That brings us to: 876 calories, 29g fat, 96mg cholesterol.

To put it into perspective the recommended daily allowance is based on a 2000 calorie diet. 876 calories is nearly half that (45%). The RDA for cholesterol is 300mg (32%) and 65g for fat (45%). This is for ONE DRINK. Around here, it's not uncommon for many people to have two or more of these in a day.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not specifically Dunkin's fault this guy ordered and consumed what he did. However, their fantastic advertising (Everyone Runs on Dunkin) encourages us to think that a 24-oz beverage loaded with all that crap is and should be normal and that it'll keep us going all day long when, in fact, it's not and it won't. What's more, they've convinced many of us that it's normal to have at least one a day, or two, or three. Not a far stretch from that well-known not-so-subliminal message, "You want fries with that?"


  1. Wow, that's a lot of creme and sugar.

  2. I take my hot and iced coffees with milk and a sugar substitute, but I can totally see how cream and sugar could add up, especially in the larger sizes. You made me curious about their nutrition facts and will end up saving me quite a few calories this summer. I like to indulge in coffee coolattas a few times a month, but I hadn't realized I could have it made with whole or skim milk instead of cream.

  3. Holy cow! One time I ordered my usual - a large iced with skim milk and 3 Splendas. Apparently the ordering system garbled my order and what I received was a large iced coffee with TEN CREAMS! I could tell immediately that something was wrong because the shade of my "coffee" was what we ladies refer to as "winter white." I'm not even joking here. I handed it back and explained my order again, and then asked the woman manning the window if people actually ordered coffee like that. "Ha! You'd be surprised," was her reply.

    The reason our kids are fat is a combination if poor diet and lack of exercise - I am learning that teaching kids to "be careful and safe" on the playground results in fewer calories burned. The children are basically afraid to engage in any sort of rough play (e.g., tag) for fear of hurting someone or themselves. I remember when we'd swing as high as we can on the swings and JUMP OFF, flip upside down and hang on the monkey bars by our legs, and do all kinds of stuff that in retrospect would be classified as crazy sh*t by today's standards. :)

  4. Says the man who orders donuts from Dunkin. I'll stay with my instant oatmeal.

  5. Actually, the Coolattas can't be made with milk (at least, I don't think so). They're basically a powdered mix added to coffee, ice, and water and then blended or frozen in a slushy machine. They're loaded with cellulose or some sort of thickener to give it that smooth taste and tons of sugar. The same goes for Frappuccinos. I know the average calorie count for a Frappuccino is 500-700.

    Unfortunately, Dunkin doesn't put nutrition info for ALL of their sizes. I had to do some math to get the numbers in my post. They, conveniently, only list smalls and leave out the flavor shots. :-)

  6. I always chuckle when I see the "protections" modern parents make sure their children have or are aware of that I really don't remember having or knowing about (or caring about). I always wonder whether I'll do the same thing or not when I have kids.

    For example, we didn't use helmets for bikes. That was just unheard of. You did play on the play structures (we called them "jungle gyms") at the park and there was usually hard-packed dirt or gravel underneath--not "soft mulch". I actually saw "rubber mulch" at the store the other day specifically for this purpose. And heck, if you were at a stream and there was a rope swing, you used it and just hoped there weren't rocks under the water.

    Then again, if you were caring for other peoples' kids, you didn't have to worry so much about them suing your butt quite so much...

  7. For the record, I made no argument that what I ordered was "healthy". However, since you mentioned it, I had a hot tea with sugar and two donuts.

    The Donuts:
    460 Calories
    20g Fat
    No Cholesterol

    The Tea:
    60 Calories
    No Fat
    No Cholesterol

    What I had was significantly better than the guy who ordered the medium, extra-extra, with two-shots of syrup (although admittedly, not all that healthy) and I try to limit it to once per week and it's my whole breakfast that day.

    Most people grab a coffee once if not two times per day.

  8. Pretty sad when the donuts are healthier than the coffee. Never would have figured that.


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