Forget diets: Restaurants are finding comfort in big portions

KANSAS CITY — Calorie counters, beware.

Restaurants across the land, feeding a trend begun several years ago with the introduction of Hardee's Thickburger, are offering ever-larger burgers, sandwiches and rich dishes.

In this economy, restaurateurs say, they want to give more value for the money. And stressed consumers seem to have a taste for such comfort food. For some diners, words like low fat, diet, organic or healthy are just not on the menu.

"I hate to say it, but if you are down on your luck, you tend to eat more, you lean toward food,” said Kevin Lyman, president of the Kansas City Originals, an organization of area independent restaurants.

The latest burst of big food is not going down well with nutrition experts. To counter the trend, they’re backing federal legislation introduced this week that would require restaurants to list calories on the menu or on menu boards.

Papa Bob's Bar-B-Que of Bonner Springs calls its entry into the giant sandwich explosion of 2009 the Ultimate Destroyer.

Take a half-pound of pulled pork and a half-pound of hickory-smoked sliced pork on a 12-inch hoagie bun. Top that with sauce, two slices of bread and then a half-pound of hickory-smoked turkey breast.

Follow that with a half-pound of ham, sauce and two more slices of bread, then three half-pound hickory smoked hamburgers with more sauce and more bread, brisket, sausage, sauce and bun.

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