Hobbes Jul 17 2003, 07:00 PMWhat is driving portion sizing "in places like this" e.g. The Cheesecake Factory? It can all be summed up in two words Market Demographics -or- Big Media. The Restaurant National Association's article titled The Business of Keeping Baby Boomers Happy states that, "They are the most powerful demographic in history. Businesses thrive or fail based on their ability to gauge and keep pace with the vacillating likes and dislikes of this economic powerhouse known as the baby boomers. At 76 million strong, boomers have the clout to rule the marketplace and savvy restaurateurs are making sure they keep a place set at their tables for the largest generation."Speaking of irresponsibly overserving, has anyone eaten at a Papadeaux recently?
CF sucks. Overpriced, and like other chain restaurants, they irresponsibly over-serve food. An entire serving dish of pasta for one person?
I hate wasting food, and it killed me to walk away with half of my plate uneaten the last time I was there. Simply a gluttonous amount of food. It's no surprise why we have such problem with weight in this country - and in San Antonio specifically - when you look at the portions in places like this.
What do you think drives the portions? Is it "our" appetite, or did the portions drive the appetite? Great chicken-egg question.
Oh, and to stay on topic, I've never eaten at a CF - and don't know that I will, now. Awesome post.
This Sounds like homogenization to me
What does all this mean for the restaurant industry? For one thing, restaurant operators are discovering that the largest generation in American history has an insatiable appetite for variety: more choices, more options, more menu items, more seating arrangements and more entertainment features. The boomer desire for "multipurpose" products and services is one of the major forces influencing the entertainment, hospitality and restaurant industries.
Offering "something for everyone" is also the strategy at The Cheesecake Factory, Inc......One of the secrets of The Cheesecake Factory's success, says Howard Gordon, senior vice president of business development and marketing, is the size of its menu. "We offer over 200 items and 50 different desserts," he says. "If you're in the mood for something with a Mexican twist, we've got it. An Asian twist, we've got that too. And we've got the staples, so when people get tired of the newest trend, they know they can come back and get an old favorite."
This, above demand/market demographic a la Baby Boomer creates The Cheesecake Factory's portion sizes, which even by today's generous standards are eye-popping.
According to Gordon, it's all part of the fun, high-energy atmosphere that is the Factory's trademark. Big portions encourage sharing at the table, tap into the self-indulgent desires of boomers and are great for people too busy to cook for themselves. The restaurant routinely wraps up leftovers for customers to take home, because "people like having something leftover for lunch or dinner the next day," says Gordon.
Big portions also encourage over eating which causes major health problems. The Cheesecake Factory's purposeful over-sizing of every dish is irresponsible and is teaching us to stay to the trend that is infecting the nation, over eating. The Cheesecake Factory is infamous for its neglectful portion sizing, just do a google search for "cheesecake factory, portion size" and you will get tons of hits bashing CF as irresponsible and one of the forces behind this trend. I will always choose a local "mom and pop" over a chain because I arm just all to worry that if CF has its ways I will not have a choice to eat at that "mom and pop" because it won't be there; closed down and over run by big $$, look at what Wall-Mart did.
Posted: Jul 18 2003, 12:51 PM
Read this article,
Portion Distortion -- You Don't Know the Half of It
I am not going to quote the hell out of it but do read it because it makes my point loud and clear; that there is a trend in the USA and that trend is over sizing portions.
------hjshorter Posted on Jul 18 2003, 04:05 AM------
"We shouldn't blame the restaurants for overeating. I am responsible for how much food makes it's way down my gullet, regardless of the size of the plate put in front of me."American Institute for Cancer Research study shows that 67 percent of Americans eat everything on their plates, no matter what the size. This percentage can be found in this NBC article
When confronted with their contribution to America's expanding waistline, restaurateurs and food packagers reply that eating less is a matter of individual responsibility. But that's not how the human stomach works. If you put more food in front of people, they eat more, as studies have consistently shown over the last decade. My personal favorite: The researcher gave moviegoers either a half-gallon or a gallon bucket of popcorn before the show (it was "Payback," with Mel Gibson) and then measured how much they ate when they returned what was left in the containers afterward. Nobody could polish off the entire thing, but subjects ate 44 percent more when given the bigger bucket.
I am really not trying to argue here. All I am saying is that there is a trend in America, to over size portions (see NBC article to see compared portion sizing from America to Europe). It is a fact that American business, including restaurants, are manipulating the food industry so people buy more than they should, this is one of the many factors causing the Obesity problem our country is afflicted with. (This is our country's affliction, obesity not CF). (I do not need to prove to you all here that there is an obesity problem here in the USA, just look at the news. Obesity is killing nearly as many citizens as cigarettes are). The Cheesecake Factory is not the soul problem to over sizing and they are not teaching you a thing. What they are doing is giving large portion sizes a place to thrive, just one more place (like 7-11 or Taco-Bell) that has super sizing. I find super sizing irresponsible and to some degree propagated by chain restaurants. I am just worry of The Cheesecake Factory and they are not sources of all evil and should not be boycotted. I have even eaten there myself and my experience was not bad at all, the food is good not great but good.
I am not trying to disempower anyone or screaming for "...closing all bars and other places that serve alcohol because clearly, alcohol is a problem in the world and serving it 'is teaching us to stay to the trend that is infecting the nation'." This is not my point. I do not want to abolish all food that is deemed bad for you. I am just poi9nting out that there is a trend in America to overeat and places like CF are propagating it. Read these articles I have put in my posts and it will be clear to you the point I am making; porting sizing is getting larger and this over sizing is leading towards overeating which has contributed to the problem of obesity. Do not take what I am saying out of context.
The first article in this post begs the question of, "How did today's oversized appetites become the norm? It didn't happen by accident or some inevitable evolutionary process. It was to a large degree the result of consumer manipulation. Fast food's marketing strategies, which make perfect sense from a business perspective, succeed only when they induce a substantial number of us to overeat." And the answer and case in point is that Taco Bell found out by reducing the cost of their tacos .30 cents they could get a large number of their guests to eat more thus spending more money. The decreased price is thought of as value in the consumer's mind so they buy more tacos but in the end they spend more money then they would have if they bought the taco when it was cheaper. In 1983 John Martin became CEO of the ailing Taco Bell franchise and met a young marketing whiz named Elliott Bloom. "Using so-called "smart research," a then-new kind of in-depth consumer survey, Bloom had figured out that fast-food franchises were sustained largely by a core group of "heavy users," mostly young, single males, who ate at such restaurants as often as 20 times a month. In fact, 30 percent of Taco Bell's customers accounted for 70 percent of its sales. Through his surveys, Bloom learned what might seem obvious now but wasn't at all clear 20 years ago -- these guys ate at fast-food joints because they had absolutely no interest in cooking for themselves and didn't give a rip about the nutritional quality of the food. They didn't even care much about the taste. All that mattered was that it was fast and cheap. Martin figured Taco Bell could capture a bigger share of these hard-core customers by streamlining the food production and pricing main menu items at 49, 59 and 69 cents -- well below its competitors." Taco Bell wins, they get more money out of you when there is a perceived value. This only used to be in fast food joints and quickie marts but now it has trickled down to all levels of the food industry.
"If the marketing strategy had stopped there, we might not be the nation of fatties that we are today. But the imperatives of the marketplace are growth and rising profits, and once everybody had slashed prices to the bone, the franchises had to look for a new way to satisfy investors."
"And what they found was . . . super-sizing."
20 years of "smart research" has trained the American populace to expect super-sizing every where they go. (You don't think 7-11 is just being nice to you by having big gulps at only $1 a cup, NO they are getting rich off you; consumer manipulation). And I do not need to point out that super sizing is everywhere, just look at advertising BIG-IS-BETTER mantra. It is even at CF; why??? CF is not being nice to you, yes they may be giving you what you want, but we have been trained; like these articles tell us, from notable sources mind you, to over eat. Maybe not in eveyone's case, not everyone overeats. But the big machine of coporations are working on it that you will consume and consume more (even more than you should). You have the power not to eat more than you should. We are individuals and have free will but the big coporations are working on this individuality, if they can, so you eat more. CF is just pandering to this BIG-$$ idea and that is what I am pointing out. Timothy Weems of the Cheesecake Factory chain says, “Our guests just go, ‘Wow.’ They love our portions.” In fact, the chain is known for its big portions — marketing volume and taste. “If they don’t perceive us as providing a great value, they won’t be back,” Weems says." So what can you do about this? Big portions are their hook to catch you, they want you to eat more (and buy more). I wonder why then there is a obesity problem in the US of A? Our perseption to gague what is a large portion has been distorted, "It wasn't always thus. Readers of a certain age can remember a time when a trip to McDonald's seemed like a treat and when a small bag of French fries, a plain burger and a 12-ounce Coke seemed like a full meal. Fast food wasn't any healthier back then; we simply ate a lot less of it......McDonald's increased portions only reluctantly, because the company's founder, Ray Kroc, didn't like the image of lowbrow, cheap food. If people wanted more French fries, he would say, "they can buy two bags." But price competition had grown so fierce that the only way to keep profits up was to offer bigger and bigger portions. By 1988, McDonald's had introduced a 32-ounce "super size" soda and "super size" fries."
But we have the power just as "Northwestern University dietician Linda Van Horn recommends sharing entrees, taking home food and avoiding buffets. Despite portion size, she says, it’s up to the individual to have a plan and be the gatekeepers. “Say ahead of time, ‘This is what I’ll be eating and the rest I’m going to take home,’” she recommends."
If the only point I was making that we should abolish all things that are bad for us and that CF makes us eat more I would not have posted. This is not a post about bashing CF or even "bad food" mind you. CF is not the devil, ok? There is a reason for the American waist line to be expanding and the portion size is one of the many reasons for it. CF is know for thier large portions and I thought it would be helpful to post about research and articles that have been done on CF and about portion sizing. Portion sizing is a problem and there are roots to that problem that need to be looked at. We, as individuals, have the power not to eat more than we should but as a country I think we have not yet learned that lesson quite yet; hence the obesity problem.
And this is when in the Cheesecake Factory Thread that this was posted by Tommy posted on Jul 18 2003, 01:13 PM
hobbes, this sounds like the good topic for a new thread.
so now we are at a new thread, a new subject at hand:
I want this to be a tread where all you egullers can discuss portion sizing and the corporate effect on the restaurant industry. Look at the CF Thread, linked at the top of this post to see some reaction to what I posted, then post yourself. I would love to see what people feel is the chicken or the egg issue towards obesity.
And no I do not want all junk food to be band and deemed as evil. And I do think that people have free will in what they choose to eat or not eat. Lawsuits that support the view of Bronx resident Caesar Barber who claims that he ate fast food several times a week without understanding the dangers and that the restaurants are to blame are a copout. We need better answers to the obesity problem than McDonald's made me fat. If you believe that rhetoric join the CSPI where all "Junk Food" will be band.
Consider this can of worms officially open,