Traditional American fare—just like the American waistline—is looking more than a little pudgy these days.
Even though some states enjoy healthier reputations than others (Yes, Colorado, we mean you), no state is completely guilt-free when it comes to dishes with huge portion sizes, super-high calorie counts, or sky-high fat content.
So if you want to sample some of these regional favorites on your next road trip, your best bet may be to minimize your portion size.
Arizona: Quadruple Bypass Burger
The Grand Canyon State takes celebrating fatty foods to a whole new level at the Heart Attack Grill. Patrons weighing over 350 pounds eat for free. The Quadruple Bypass Burger—estimated by some to be worth 8,000 calories—is at least refreshingly honest about its potential impact on your health.
Ingredients: Four beef patties, eight slices of cheese, tomato, onions, sauce, on a bun
Fat content: Four patties alone clock in at around 60 grams of fat, which is just about the upper limit of 65 grams that the USDA recommends for the average woman eating 2,000 calories a day.
Iowa: Hot beef sundae
Ingredients: Mashed potatoes, roast beef, beef gravy, cheddar cheese, tomato
Fat content: Following the Iowa State Fair recipe at home will dish out a “sundae” with about 28 grams of fat. Commercially prepared recipes may vary.
Alabama: Bacon-wrapped meatloaf
With the second-highest obesity rate in the country—behind only neighboring Mississippi—you’d expect to find some fattening culprits in the deep-fried-bacon-loving south. And Chef Kevin Layton of Greer’s Market, in Mobile, does not disappoint with his bacon-wrapped meatloaf recipe. “People ask for it on a weekly basis,” he told WKRG News in 2008.
Ingredients: Meatloaf made with ground beef, onion, bell pepper, celery, eggs, breadcrumbs, and seasonings, then wrapped in bacon.
Fat content: One 3-ounce serving of 80% lean meatloaf has roughly 14 grams of fat. Each slice of bacon will cost you an additional 3 grams of fat.
Gigantic sandwiches can be found across the country, but the biggest ones in the country may be found in Birch Run, Mich., at Tony’s I-75, as featured on the Travel Channel’s Sandwich Paradise. There, you’ll find the world’s most artery-clogging BLT. Each contains over a pound of bacon.
Ingredients: Over 20 strips of bacon, lettuce, tomato, bread
Fat content: A pound of bacon clocks in at a whopping 192 grams of fat. That’s about your upper limit over 3 days!
Wisconsin: Deep-fried cheese curds
Ingredients: Milk or beer, egg, flour, sugar, salt, baking power, cheese curds, oil for frying
Fat content: Homemade recipes will vary. A&W restaurants make a version that contains 40 grams of fat in an order, and Culver’s has 38 grams of fat, and it’s technically just a side!
New Jersey: Fat Darrell
In 1997, Darrell W. Butler, then a sophomore at Rutgers University, decided he wanted to cram all his favorite guilty-pleasure foods into one health-defying sandwich. The result was named the Fat Darrell, a supersize sandwich at the famous RU Hungry? “grease truck” in New Brunswick, N.J.
Ingredients: Chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce, French fries, lettuce, tomato, roll
Fat content: With two chicken fingers, two mozzarella sticks, and fries, the Fat Darrell is worth an estimated 45 grams of fat.
A staple at southern cafés is the beignet, a fried dough pastry particularly linked with New Orleans. One of the most popular places to enjoy a beignet is Café Du Monde, a French market–style coffee shop in the Big Easy. There, the fried puffs come covered in powdered sugar in orders of three.
Ingredients: Fried dough, powdered sugar
Fat content: Recipes estimate that Café du Monde–style beignets clock in at about 11 grams of fat, the same number as in a McDonald’s cheeseburger.
Mississippi: Mud Pie
The state with the highest obesity rate in the country, at 32.5%, has held this not-so-enviable title for five years in a row. Decadent dining choices, like the Mud Pie, rumored to have originated in the Magnolia State, are certainly part of the problem.
Ingredients: Some recipes call for cream cheese, others for ice cream, still others pudding mix. But no matter how you look at it, this pie is a mash-up of chocolate, cream, butter, and sugar.
Fat content: A commercially prepared version at nationwide chain Cosi clocks in at 35 grams of fat per serving. Homemade varieties vary between 24 and 38 grams.
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