920 or so calories at 7 a.m.

October 22, 2007|By KEVIN COWHERD

Because I'm a recovering fat guy, breakfast is not exactly a time of joy in my house.

Here is the menu nearly every day: glass of orange juice, bowl of Special K cereal with berries.

Oh, do I know how to live it up or what? There are times when it's so boring that I fall asleep with the spoon in my mouth.

On the weekends, to really cut loose, I'll have a whole-wheat bagel with jelly instead of the cereal.

OK, that probably makes your mouth water. Sorry, I shouldn't do that.

Then I read the other day that Hardee's, the maverick fast-food chain, just introduced its newest artery-clogger, something called the Country Breakfast Burrito.

For openers, the thing consists of two egg omelets with bacon, sausage and diced ham.

There was talk about throwing the whole pig in there, with the snout and the hoofs and everything. But, apparently, that would be too hard to wrap in a flour tortilla.

Think of the aggravation: You'd get one hoof in the tortilla and start to wrap it, and then the little tail would come out, or an ear or whatever.

So, you'd quickly try to grab the other end of the tortilla, and another hoof would flop out or something. It just wouldn't work.

So, instead of more pork, Hardee's added cheddar cheese, hash browns and sausage gravy for a breakfast that tops out at a whopping 920 calories and 60 grams of fat.

Does Hardee's have a marketing slogan for this baby?

If not, let me suggest one: "What's new for breakfast? A burrito and a triple bypass!"

The thing of it is, this new Hardee's burrito tastes wonderful. There were definitely hearty overtones of pig throughout, smothered in a zestful gravy - but then my special K guilt kicked in.

It's probably my first omelet with bacon, sausage, ham and cheese since the Carter administration.

On the days when I'm sick to death of Special K, which is just about every day, I would probably crawl a mile over broken glass for the Country Breakfast Burrito.

In a strange way, I kind of admire what Hardee's is doing in trotting out this new heart-stopper.

Here you have everyone in the country whining about how fat we're all getting.

And you have the Health Gestapo tsk-tsking over everything we put in our mouths unless it's yogurt, granola and celery sticks.

But not Hardee's.

No, at Hardee's, the party line is: "What obesity problem? Hey, don't get hung up on that stuff! Try one of our new breakfast burritos! And if you have to let your belt out a few notches and your bad cholesterol shoots through the roof, hey, that's what health insurance is for!"

"We don't try to hide what these are," a Hardee's spokesman was quoted as saying about the new breakfast burrito.

Oh, you bet they don't try to hide anything.

Remember, this is the chain that gave us the Monster Thickburger a few years ago, which was not exactly a nutritionist's dream meal, either: two huge slabs of beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese, mayo, buttered bun, 1,420 calories.

It's funny, as a society, we keep talking about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day, how it should be balanced, nutritious, not that heavy, etc.

But all these fast-food and sit-down restaurants keep rolling out these high-calorie, high-fat breakfasts.

A Classic Cinnabon cinnamon roll has 730 calories and 24 grams of fat. (By the way, isn't the smell of frosted cinnamon rolls the most wonderful smell in the whole world? If we opened a few Cinnabons in Iraq, would they still hate us?)

The McDonald's Big Breakfast has 720 calories and 46 grams of fat. The Grand Slam Slugger breakfast with hash browns at Denny's has 1,040 calories and 55 grams of fat.

The Bob Evans Country Biscuit Breakfast - eggs, country gravy, sausage, cheddar cheese, home fries, a biscuit, enough margarine to grease a battleship - has 852 calories and 49 grams of fat.

Look, even stopping for coffee in the morning can pork you up.

Starbucks' Venti Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino with whipped cream is 560 calories and 16 grams of fat. Add a butterscotch-pecan scone - c'mon, who doesn't need a butterscotch-pecan scone at 7 in the morning? - and you're looking at an additional 520 calories and 27 grams of fat.

(By comparison, Dunkin' Donuts looks as if it's recommended by Jenny Craig. Its bacon, egg and cheese English muffin sandwich has only 360 calories and 16 grams of fat.)

Not that any of it matters to me.

No, for me there is only orange juice and a dreary little bowl of Special K, which, unlike a Cinnabon roll, has absolutely no aroma at all.

It reminds you of where you are in life.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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