When the forces of nutritional correctness recently tried to food-shame Uno Pizzeria & Grill for its one-pound Whole Hog Burger, Uno wasn’t having any of it. In fact, an executive told WebMD, the burger was created specifically to get people talking. In other words, mission accomplished.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) singled out the Whole Hog Burger, which is made with five kinds of meat and four kinds of cheese, in its “Xtreme Eating 2016” list. Riffing off Uno’s menu copy that offers “extra napkins free” with the burger, CSPI added, “Extra calories, too! Enough to hit 2,850—more than a 24-hour supply. And don’t forget the three days’ worth of salt (62 grams), six-day stockpile of sodium (9,790 mg) and white-flour bun! You might as well eat four McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese and two medium fries doused with 18 packets of salt.”
Other media outlets jumped on the story, and even WebMD piled on. The medical information website interviewed Lindsay Moyer, a CSPI nutritionist, about the burger. “That’s up there with some of the worst meals we’ve ever seen,” Moyer was quoted as saying. “It’s not just one type of meat, it’s five of the fattiest types.”
True enough. The burger proudly stacks prosciutto, pepperoni, sausage and bacon around not one but two beef patties, along with four types of cheeses, plus garlic mayonnaise and pickles, all of which are described on the pizzeria’s menu. And did we mention it comes with fries? And onion rings? You’ll probably want to wash it down with a big ol’ soda, too.
So what? Uno executives say in response to the food cops’ stern disapproval. “We’re not surprised that the Whole Hog Burger has been recognized on the Xtreme Eating list in 2016,” Uno Chief Marketing Officer Skip Weldon said, in a prepared statement. “It was designed for this very kind of thing.”
“We created the Whole Hog Burger to be an over-the-top eating experience that would capture the attention of our customers, taste great and be a fun challenge to conquer,” Weldon added. In fact, the item has proven so popular, Uno added a Whole Hog Chicago Thin Crust pizza to its menu.
Meanwhile, as Weldon pointed out, the chain also offers many healthful choices on its menu that CSPI ignored and gives out nutritional content for all menu items at interactive kiosks in Uno lobbies.
Uno was so unabashed by the coverage that it revived a promotion from last March called Share Your Whole Hog Experience. Customers were invited to order the Whole Hog Burger and “then tell us about your experience on Facebook. Post a photo, video, haiku, poem, short story, anime short film, comic strip, song, painting or drawing. You name it!” The grand prize: a free Whole Hog Burger every month for a year.