Most people wouldn't consider eating an entire medium hand-tossed cheese pizza from Domino's in one sitting. And these days, most folks are carb-conscious enough not to order pizza as a side order to pasta, or vice-versa.
So why, asks the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is Domino's trying to turn back the nutritional clock with its 1,300- to 1,500-calorie BreadBowl Pastas -- white-flour penne, sauce, cheese, and other toppings entombed in Frisbee-sized white-bread crusts?
Domino's BreadBowl Pastas are the most recent so-called "Food Porn" that CSPI highlights in its Nutrition Action Healthletter.
"White-flour pasta with cream-cheese sauce can be a nutritional nightmare on its own," said CSPI senior nutritionist Jayne Hurley. "The last thing it needs is an 800-calorie white-bread pizza-crust bowl."
Savvy eaters will remember that more than a decade ago CSPI called fettuccine Alfredo a "heart attack on a plate." Domino's executives seem to have forgotten since the cream sauce tops three out of the five BreadBowl Pastas: the Chicken Alfredo, the Chicken Carbonara and even the innocently named Pasta Primavera.
But Domino's spokesman Tim McIntyre takes issue with CSPI's rap on BreadBowl Pasta. He told ConsumerAffairs.com that "[I]n any Italian restaurant when you order pasta, you get served bread sticks. This is essentially the same thing. We just put them together."
He also points out that the company's Web site shows BreadBowl Pasta to be two servings. McIntyre says CSPI, "decided to take the two servings, add them together and make an assumption that consumers would try to eat the whole thing. We don't make that assumption."
CSPI, he concludes, "is really good at stirring things up and using creative terms like 'porn' to refer to food."
CSPI also says Domino's has an Italian Sausage Marinara (with Provolone cheese) and Three Cheese Mac-N-Cheese. The items range from 1,340 to 1,480 calories and more than a day's worth of saturated fat (22 to 28 grams) and sodium (1,820 to 2,840 milligrams).
"Topping a pizza crust with an order of macaroni and cheese is probably the most discouraging mac-and-cheese innovation since The Cheesecake Factory decided to ball it up and toss it in the deep-fryer," Hurley said. "What's next, wrapping it in a giant blueberry pancake?"
Nutrition Action Healthletter spotlights a "Food Porn" in each issue alongside a "Right Stuff" recommendation. Past "Food Porns" include Starbucks' Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, Cold Stone Creamery's Oh Fudge! shake and Hardee's Thickburger.