Photo: ejharaldseid, Flickr
How about this for a thumb in the eye to America's obesity epidemic: the Heart Attack Grill in suburban Phoenix, Arizona. According to its slogan, it's "taste worth dying for."
The over-the-top restaurant features four tiers of death-defying burgers, from the Single Bypass to an unwieldy tower of four thick patties, the Quadruple Bypass. Customers (called "patients" here) are invited to round out their meal with a side of Flatliner Fries and Jolt cola, followed by Lucky Strike unfiltered cigarettes. "Patients" are cared for by "nurses" (at a place like this, everything seems to need ironic quotes), who appear more like Hooters girls than licensed health-care practitioners. Funny, though, how the "nurses" are all thin and curvy. Maybe the grill doesn't give its employees the same encouragement to power-eat that it does its customers.
As owner Jon Basso, decked out in a lab coat and stethoscope, puts it in a video on the restaurant's website: "No dangerous yo-yo syndrome. I personally guarantee a stable, upward progression of body weight while you're enjoying great tasting foods like a Double Bypass burger and Flatliner Fries. Along with a cold beer and cigarettes, it's a diet program you can stick to for life. (Back in February, Slashfood reported on Basso's legal fight that he was the originator of the "unhealthy" diet plan.) And now, Basso has pushed the envelope even further: anyone who weighs more than 350 pounds eats for free. (It's probably a bit dubious as a business strategy to give away your product to your "biggest" customers, but okay...)
As if to add another heaping serving of irony to a story already laden with it, as TODAYshow.com reports, Basso used to own a chain of Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centers and worked as a personal trainer. Yet the former fitness guru said that he had an ah-ha moment of his own when Oprah Winfrey announced that she was done with dieting.
"My background is in trying to motivate people to better themselves," Basso told TODAYshow.com. "Strangely enough, I think that I'm now doing more to motivate people to better themselves. I'm giving them a more realistic outlook and reason to smile, laugh and have fun. I do recall some of the people being on a diet who were fighting such depression due to the fact that they couldn't stick to the diet...I've kind of let them - quote-unquote - come out of the closet and simply be themselves as the imperfect beings that we all are."