ST. LOUIS - The people who brought you the Monster Thickburger and the 1,100-calorie salad are at it again - this time for breakfast.
Hardee's yesterday rolled out its new Country Breakfast Burrito - a two-egg omelet filled with bacon, sausage, diced ham, cheddar cheese, hash browns and sausage gravy, all wrapped inside a flour tortilla. The burrito contains 920 calories and 60 grams of fat.
Brad Haley, marketing chief for the St. Louis-based fast-food chain, said the burrito offers the sort of big breakfast item normally found in sit-down restaurants with an added advantage.
"It makes this big country breakfast portable," he said.
In 2003 the chain introduced a line of big sandwiches, including the Monster Thickburger. The 1,420-calorie sandwich is made up of two 1/3-pound slabs of beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese, and mayonnaise on a buttered bun.
Even the Hardee's chicken salad - topped with onion rings and crispy chicken - has 1,100 calories and 83 grams of fat.
The chain does offer some low-calorie options, including roast beef and chicken sandwiches.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocate for nutrition and health, has called the Hardee's line of Thickburgers "food porn."
The group's senior nutritionist, Jayne Hurley, said yesterday that the burrito was "another lousy invention by a fast-food company."
The "country breakfast bomb," as she called it, represents half a day's calories and a full day's worth of saturated fat and salt, to say nothing of cholesterol.
"That's all before 10 o'clock in the morning," she said.
Haley makes no apologies.
"We don't try to hide what these are," he said. "When consumers go to other fast-food places they feel like they've got to buy two of their breakfast sandwiches or burritos to fill up. This is really designed to fill you up."
The government's Center for Nutritional Policy and Promotion recommends a daily caloric intake ranging from 1,600 calories for sedentary women and older adults to 2,800 calories for teenage boys and active adults. Hardee's sees its core customers as young men ages 18 to 34, Haley said, though it expects a wider range for breakfast items.
The Country Breakfast Burrito is generally available for $2.69 by itself or $4.09 for a combo that includes hash rounds and coffee.