Restaurants' 'Secret Menus' Are a Deliciously Wicked Way to Get Around the Calorie Police

mcgangbang chicken and cheeseburgerIt's more than a little ironic that NYC -- a city known for its delicious, gluttonous food -- has been getting so much buzz for attempting to regulate and crack down on the consumption of high-calorie foods and sodas. But some restaurants have a default solution: Their "secret menu" items! Oh, you've heard of this before, I'm sure. At some restaurants and chains alike, you can attempt to order "off-menu." And often, the only-by-request eats are ridiculously unhealthy. For instance, Chipotle fans ask for the Quesarito, a burrito wrapped in a cheese quesadilla that racks up a whopping 1,500 calories. Oofah!

Well, now even though the city is starting to get extra picky and regulatory with calorie-counts being required on menu items that are "listed or displayed on a menu board or menu ... that is visible with the food-service establishment," these secret menu items are exempt. (Another loophole: Limited-time menu offerings.)


Take, for instance, the off-menu item with a cringe-worthy name that two reporters from Ad Age say is available at McDonald's: The McGangBang. It's a McChicken plus a double cheeseburger in one $7 sandwich. There's also been buzz before about the Double Cream Frappuccino at Starbucks and the Suicide Burger at Burger King. But it sounds, with the exception of Panera's "hidden" menu, which is actually protein-packed and pretty healthy, most "secret menu" items are unofficial and not standardized across the country's chain locations.

Chipotle's spokesman Chris Arnold explained:

What there is, is a culture where employees are taught to make what they can with the ingredients we have [within reason] if customers ask. But we don't have a secret menu or even common vocabulary for these kinds of things, so if customers order something specific that they have seen somewhere online, it is entirely possible that they will be met with blank stares as our people may have no idea what they are talking about.

Ha! Well, no matter who is dreaming up these "hidden" menu items, it sure is sneaky. And -- apart from the fact that eating items like the aforementioned has to be ill-advised -- a smart way to get around the calorie police.

How do you feel about calorie counts being posted next to the food you order? Have you ever ordered off-menu?


Image via Jim Kelly/Flickr

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