Three of the big boys plan to defy the new law that requires them to post calorie amounts on menu boards in type sizes equal to prices. Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's have dug in their heels. KFC and Taco Bell haven't decided whether they'll play. Meanwhile, not a menu board has changed.
Observers say the reason the eateries don't want to publicize their calorie counts is because once diners see that, for example, a Double Whopper with Cheese at Burger King weighs in at 990 calories, they may reconsider, and that could hurt sales.
But Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president/food service strategy at WD Partners in Columbus, Ohio, says the logistics of including calorie counts on menu boards is cumbersome at best.
"Menu space is very limited," he says, noting that large photographs of food "make it easier to order, say, Combo No. 4." Adding more words would be "confusing to the customers and slow things down, and customers would be less happy. And, what if I want a [McDonald's] Big 'n' Tasty [460 calories] with extra mayo [100 calories]? That would throw the actual count off."
New York is the first U.S. city to require the new signage, yet it will not start fining restaurants for violations until October. Meanwhile, all eyes are on a New York Restaurant Association lawsuit filed in federal court to get the regulation overturned.