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Photo of the day: Calorie Counts at Dunkin Donuts

Sometimes regulations are evil. On April 30, 2008, NYC passed a law requiring fast food restaurants to very visibly post calorie counts on their menus. Unfortunately for me, that meant finding out that my favorite doughnut at Dunkin Donuts, the Boston Kreme, is the most caloric of them all.

Oh how I hate you Mayor Bloomberg and your social responsibility!

The chains are none too pleased. Not only does the new law require them to actually figure out the calorie information for each item, but it also really hurts their brand. Look, I’ve always known that Dunkin Donuts isn’t good for me, but I never knew it was this bad! Of course it’s better that I know the health implications with eating crappy food; but on the other hand, it totally takes the joy out of eating it. I haven’t bought a Boston Kreme since the new signs went up, and I gotta tell you, I really miss them.

When I explain what I do for a living, I usually tell people that I make stuff “easy and pleasurable to use.” Easy to use, or in this case, good for you, isn’t enough. The customer experience sucks if you suck all the pleasure out of it.

So how can a company comply with the law while not twisting the knife in their customer’s eye?

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  1. Boston Kreme is my favorite too!

  2. Boston is about to enact the same kind of nanny laws. It offends my sense of free will, and I would think that even people who don't want to lose weight (either because they are thin or they are happy being fat) would be downright offended by the presumption that everyone ought to watch their calories.

    What seems more palatable is the 1-5 star 'health' ratings being introduced by some supermarket chains.

    In MA, we now have mandatory health insurance. I realized the other day that when I was paying for this of my own free will, I was going for checkups more frequently.
    Now, I avoid doctors out of a sense of resentment that I'm being forced to value health care. Go figure.

  3. Don't you think that full disclosure is the best approach. That way people can make up their own minds. Knowing something is bad but not understanding how bad is just as bad as thinking something is good for you when it isn't. Have you ever seen the ad for Camel cigarettes from the 50's? “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”. Imagine the response from all of those Camel smokers when they put health warnings on cigarette packets. They'd all be complaining about a sucky (no pun intended) experience because all the pleasure has been taken out of it.

    Now that people are fully informed they may decide to skip that donut and rediscover the joy of biting into a nice, sweet, juicy piece of fruit.

  4. Fast food corporations can get together and introduce a card that gets points added for the number of calories you consume. Get enough points and you can get things like maternity clothes and sweat pants :p

  5. They just need to write it better. Something like “ONLY 260 calories” or “400 calories less than a McGriddle!” It's all about the spin.

  6. I agree with Rachel, putting a more positive spin would reduce the impact. :-)

    BTW, if you like donuts and sweets, here's a good animation about muffins http://vimeo.com/1004092


  1. […] wrote about the calorie counts at Dunkin’ Donuts, and was dismayed to see just how high they really are (and the worst one is my favorite doughnut, […]

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