Reality check: Calorie counts surprise restaurant customers

Fresno BeeAugust 19, 2009 

You can still order a Bloomin' Onion at Outback Steakhouse, a slice of 30th anniversary chocolate cake cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, and a Pizookie at BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse.

But you'll have a harder time enjoying them in blissful ignorance. Since July 1, chains with at least 20 restaurants statewide have been required to provide diners with the gory nutritional details -- including calories.

The law -- similar to others in New York, Washington state and elsewhere -- already is beginning to change how restaurants sell food. And customers, startled to see how many calories they have ordered, are changing their habits as well.

"Most people know eating out is bad," said Jennifer Massingham of Fresno. "But they assume it's just a couple extra calories, not hundreds or thousands."

During a recent visit to BJ's at Fashion Fair shopping center, Massingham and her husband had planned to order an appetizer, entrées and a Pizookie (a large deep-dish cookie topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream).

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