Whether you like it or not, America, the number of calories packed into fast-food eats are getting harder to ignore. McDonald’s, Subway and Panera Bread – and as of this week, Starbucks – have already begun voluntarily posting calorie counts on their menus, ahead of an anticipated federal mandate requiring all restaurants with more than 20 locations to do so. In the interest of openness and transparency, and as Marketwatch notes, assuming for a moment that you’re less worried about your waistline than about getting the most calories for the least amount of money, here are the highest-calorie menu items at 10 of the nation’s top fast-food restaurants offers the most bang for your buck.
#10 Panera Bread
* Steak and white cheddar on a French baguette, 980 calories
* $1 buys 112 calories
Panera has a lot of light, healthy-sounding items on its menus but the full steak and white cheddar on a French baguette isn’t among them, tallying 980 calories and 103 grams of carbs. That accounts for nearly half the USDA’s recommended daily intake of carbs. At $8.79, you’re getting a little more than one calorie per penny.
#9 Dunkin’ Donuts
* Frozen mocha coffee coolatta with cream, 730 calories
* $1 buys 166 calories
Dunkin’ Donuts’ frozen mocha coffee coolatta with cream is 730 calories with 142 grams of sugar (the equivalent of 35.5 teaspoons of sugar). It will cost you $4.39, or one cent for every 1.66 calories. Want a little something to eat with your beverage? A chocolate coconut cake donut, perhaps? That’ll be an additional 550 calories.
* Chicken Pot Pie, 790 calories
* $1 buys 197 calories
At KFC, this pot pie packs more calories than the 490 in the chain’s extra-crispy chicken breast. Aside from the poultry, the pie contains “diced potatoes, green peas and carrots in a savory home-style sauce.” It’s also “covered with a flaky, buttery crust and freshly baked.” It’s recently sold for a promotional price of $3.99.
* Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy 3/4 lb. triple patty with cheese, 1,120 calories
* $1 buys 184 calories
Wendy’s wins the fattest burger award with the Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy 3/4 lb. triple patty with cheese, racking up a gut-busting 1,120 calories. At $6.09, that works out to 1.84 calories per cent. Some 620 are calories from fat, which is a jaw-dropping six times the recommended daily intake of calories from fat. You get 69 grams of protein too, well above the recommended dietary allowance of 56 grams of protein for men 19 years old and above, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
* Mega melt on flatbread with egg, 670 calories
* $1 buys 206 calories
To be sure, most of its six-inch sub sandwiches with meat range in calories from 290 to 320. But Subway, which has long marketed itself as a healthy alternative to fast-food burgers and fries, also has its heavy hitters: the 6-inch mega melt on flatbread with an egg has 670 calories. At $3.25 a piece, that works out to 2.06 calories for every penny you spend.
#5 Taco Bell
* Volcanic nachos, 970 calories
* $1 buys 243 calories
Taco Bell’s volcanic nachos are a mountain of calories at 970 with 92 grams of carbs for $3.99, or 2.43 calories per penny. The lowest calorie dish on the menu is a side of black beans at 80, less than the 90-calorie cilantro dressing.
#4 White Castle
* 20 chicken rings, 1,760 calories
* $1 buys 252 calories
A sack of White Castle’s hash brown nibblers, where available, pack 1,440 calories, while a hand-to-mouth session with 20 chicken rings settles in at 1,760 calories. The hash brown nibblers sack costs $2.99, which equals 4.82 calories per penny, which is a far better calorie deal than the chicken rings: $6.99, or 2.52 calories per cent.
* Big breakfast with syrup and margarine, 1,350 calories
* $1 buys 286 calories
It might surprise you that the highest-calorie item on McDonald’s regular menu isn’t a burger or even a meal deal but the big breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage patty with hot cakes, hash browns and a large biscuit, weighing in at a hefty 1,090 calories. That is half of the recommended caloric intake for women ages 19 to 30. The hot cake syrup is an extra 180 calories and two pats of whipped margarine will cost you 80 calories. At about $4.72, it comes out to 2.86 calories per penny, including the syrup and margarine.
#2 Burger King
* Ultimate breakfast platter, 1,450 calories
* $1 buys 338 calories
Burger King’s BKW -1.41% ultimate breakfast platter lives up to its name with 1,450 calories (750 from fat), 134 grams of carbs, and 41 grams of sugar. It also has eggs, a sausage patty, a biscuit and hash browns. At $4.29, that works out to 3.38 calories per cent.
#1 Pizza Hut
* 14-inch large meat lover’s pan pizza, 470 calories
* $1 buys 376 calories
High-calorie meals reign at Pizza Hut but we’ll stick with its namesake entrée: One slice of a 14-inch large Meat Lover’s pan pizza has 470 calories. But who eats just one slice? Eat just two of the eight slices and you’ll hit 940 calories. (The entire pie is 3,760 calories.) At $10, it is easy math of 3.76 calories for each cent.