Fast Food Frightfest: Halloween Edition

McDonald's McRib sandwich made its return just before Halloween. Coincidence?

We sleep easy at night knowing that most of the scary elements of Halloween aren’t real: vampires, ghouls, zombies, ghosts. (Well, we might believe in the last one.) Other things, such as black cats, skeletons and mummies, that do exist are given a gloss of horror. So, in honor of Halloween, we give you four fast food items that fall into that latter category: they do exist — and we should be scared.

Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos
While the monster-sized XXL Chalupa, ranging from 590 to 650 calories, should intimidate us with its might, it’s the elusive Doritos Locos Taco that everyone’s talking about. Much as when Frankenstein met his bride, there’s something unholy about this union of Taco Bell fillings in a Dorito shell, especially when we think of the powdery orange residue that is left on our fingers.

After test marketing in Toledo, OH, Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos are now available in Bakersfield and Fresno, CA. Maybe it’s just us, but we detect a hint of irony when the actor in the California commercial announces, “This is really happening.” Though there’s no nutrition info available, a regular crunchy taco is 170 calories, with 10 grams of fat (3.5 g saturated) and 290 mg of sodium. We subtracted the taco shell info, then estimated that a Doritos shell, comprised of 5.5 chips, would add about 16 calories, 1 g fat and 56 mg sodium. But who has just one taco at an establishment that encourages a Fourthmeal?

Popeyes Dip’n Chick’n
We know that nuggets, patties and other unnatural reconstitutions of chicken are widely accepted. But Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Dip’n Chick’n fried chicken breast pieces are scoop shaped to serve as a mini-ladle for the double serving of accompanying blackened ranch sauce. Fried chicken in nugget form versus scoops is like Edward Cullen to Nosferatu. Granted, the scoops are utilitarian, which is more than we can say for the chicken rings offered by White Castle for years. The limited-time-only Popeyes offer, which also included Cajun fries and a biscuit, ended on Oct. 23. (Insert the obvious joke about Dr. Moreau running out of scoop-shaped chickens here.)

Nutrition info isn’t available but by our estimate, the total for a serving of Popeyes Mild Tenders (4.4 ounces, the closest to the Dip’n Chick’n’s 4.6 to 4.8 ounces), the double serving of sauce, a small serving of fries and a biscuit is 1,160 calories, 73 grams fat (23 g saturated) and 2,830 mg sodium. That’s more than half of daily recommended calories, 8 grams over the recommended daily fat value (surpassing the saturated fat intake by 3 g) and 530 mg over the sodium limit.

KFC Cheesy Bacon Bowl
When it comes to shock value, we’re not sure if anything can top KFC’s Double Down, a bacon and cheese sandwich on fried chicken buns. But this monster mash of the classic KFC bowl (potatoes, corn, gravy, chicken and cheese) — now topped with crumbled bacon — is on our list not only because it’s new, but because we think of comedian Patton Oswalt’s “sadness bowl” bit. (When one considers how Oswalt would say bacon bowl in one of his bits, it’s even funnier — or sadder.)

While the nutrition info for KFC’s new item isn’t available on the menu, the regular bowl stats (680 calories, 31 grams fat, 8 g saturated fat, 2,130 mg sodium) pack a heftier calorie punch than the Double Down. Add the equivalent of two slices of bacon to the regular bowl for 767 total calories, 38 g fat, 10 g saturated fat and 2,500 sodium (200 mg over the recommended daily value).

The McRib
Like a mummy rising from the tomb, McDonald’s McRib — as boneless as a ghostly apparition — returns to haunt those famous golden arches. (Even a Halloween-appropriate crack of thunder plays when you click on the McRib page.) Sold intermittently since its 1981 debut, this oxymoron has such a fanbase that there’s a McRib locator. Maybe we had too many of those school lunches stamped with faux grill mark meat fillings, but what unnerves us is the molding of ground pork into the shape of a rack of ribs.

The nutrition info on the McRib, topped with onions, pickles and barbecue sauce and served on a bun: 500 calories, 26 grams fat (10 g saturated) and 980 mg of sodium. Keep in mind, even a small fries adds 230 calories, 11 grams of fat (1.5 g saturated) and 160 mg sodium.

To see fast-food restaurants’ take on healthful choices, check out “Is ‘Healthy’ Fast Food For Real?” in the July/August issue of VIVMag. What’s your take on these fast-food items? Treats or tricks?

Photo credit: PRNewsFoto/McDonald’s