The Best Fast Food Receipt

I'm not a real "fast food" guy. I don't really love burgers, and I don't really love super fried or greasy things, and I realize that by making both of these statements it's very possible that the Department of Bro-land Security will revoke my man-certificate.

That said, I've always admired Burgerville, Oregon (and Southern Washington's) home-grown fast food chain.

Burgerville goes out of their way to feature seasonal , local ingredients in monthly menu items. When a cyclist was denied drive-through service and caused a Twitter PR ruckus, they re-trained staff, put up "bicycle in lane" signs, and offered free milkshakes to cyclists. When they opened a box of Gardenburgers and "became concerned about the look and texture of the product" (!), this caused Kelloggs to shut down Gardenburger production for six months, and they switched to a locally-made product.

So, I was happy to see that Burgerville is now testing the coolest receipt ever. (Pictured at left.)

They're from company called Nutricate (tip: if you have to put a pronunciation guide next to your name, you need a new name). And, as you can see, they provide highly accurate nutritional info for your meal.

I mean, it's not surprising that tartar sauce is high on calories. But it was slightly surprising that Sweet Potato Fries were so much "worse" than regular fries.

Sure, there is some irony that you get this receipt after you've paid for your meal. But I say any nutritional education is better than none at all!

(Oh, and confidential to Burgerville: the only thing left to do? It's time to fix your interior design and remodel your stores. The sock-hoppy, jukeboxy theme of your restaurants is total disconnect from your modern, local, fresh message. You designed a great interior with Noodlin' (R.I.P.) — get those guys fixing Burgerville!)

Next Time: The Disneyland Scammer


Interesting. I just posted a link on my blog to another receipt concept:

While not in actual production, it shows you how far the food has traveled to reach your mouth. I'd love to see Nutricate add distance into their receipts, but could imagine that being a much trickier set of data to deal with.
Blogger Chris Brummel 10/12/2009 1:44 PM  
Man, that guy is going crazy on those fries.
Anonymous Mark Stultz 10/12/2009 1:45 PM  
This is brilliant! I really hope Europe (especially UK) picks this up EVERYWHERE. I'm talking everywhere from Starbucks to Restaurants to fast food shops of all kind!
Anonymous Kyle Saric 10/12/2009 1:48 PM  
And then NeatReceipts can develop another product for getting your nutrition information into some sort of desktop database. Maybe with one of those body image projection things to predict what your body will look like based on the trends. That would be some serious motivation.
OpenID jrphelps 10/12/2009 1:48 PM  
I can't believe I respected you.

Doesn't love burgers... pshaw.
Blogger AgentMunroe 10/12/2009 1:54 PM  
Hmm, it's interesting technically but as a customer.. I'd just not look at the receipt if they were like this. I'm buying a burger/whatever because I want to eat a burger - not because I want to be told how much of a pig I am by eating XXX calories.

I can't believe the fast food joints are even volunteering to get into this sort of thing - especially the "calories on the menu" stuff. Once I can't order without seeing calorie listings everywhere, I'll probably stop eating out as it'll just serve to make me feel bad - and that's not why I eat out.
Anonymous Peter Cooper 10/12/2009 2:16 PM  
Peter: That's the thing: nobody's saying you're a pig, just that you've consumed XXX calories. If you want to eat 2,000 calories in a day, and you want to blow that in one giant, crazy, joyful meal, why not? Go for it!

But eating a burger, or seeing the calories in a burger, should in no way make you feel bad — unless you're going way over the number of calories you should be consuming in a day (whatever that is), or you know you're being unhealthy. If that's the case, then maybe the sadness of the inarguable printed receipt might be a good thing, right? Helpful towards meeting your goals? :)

It's just information, after all... the interpretation, and what it means in your life, is literally up to you.
Blogger Cabel 10/12/2009 2:32 PM  
Cabel, that's a great find - I wonder how long it will be before it takes off elsewhere? Certainly it provides the same sort of information that we have come to expect on our packaged foods in Australia - I'd like to see the inclusion of sodium but apart from that is is pretty good.
Blogger "Grendel" 10/12/2009 3:34 PM  
Burgerville has a "concept restaurant" in northwest Vancouver that ditches the 50s-diner vibe... for something sort of generically modern (and "green", I suppose) but not really inspiring. That location also has bus service and serves local beers & wines. You know, for if you'd like a nice Cabernet with your onion rings.

Also of note: it's not just the seasonal featured ingredients that are local -- just about everything they serve is sourced from socially & environmentally responsible producers. The trash bins in almost every restaurant are sorted for recycling & composting, and they buy wind power credits for all of their electricity usage (even though most of it is hydro anyway).

No, I don't work for Burgerville, I just think they're the Portland area's best kept secret.
Anonymous Rick 10/12/2009 3:46 PM  
This is interesting, but I fear the teaser for "The Disneyland Scammer" has completely overwhelmed my interest in this note.
Blogger Ryan 10/12/2009 4:40 PM  
In case you didn't see it, your Burgerville receipt was posted in the "A Hamburger Today" blog, along with a link back:

Nutritional Information Being Printed on Burgerville's Receipts
Anonymous David Sinclair 10/12/2009 5:42 PM  
They have the same style receipts at Silvergreens in Santa Barbara, CA (Isla Vista for those local).

I always thought it was a great idea and fairly well executed.
Blogger ClunkClunk 10/12/2009 6:54 PM  
I am fortunate enough to be local to Burgerville, but generally not the MLK location (which is the only one they currently are using Nutricate at), but when in the area a couple months ago and got my receipt that included a kids sized chocolate shake (a tiny thing at 4" tall or so) and saw it's calorie count and then it suggested a chocolate smoothy (made with yogurt instead of ice cream) was about half the calories I since have opted to order a smoothy instead of a shake.
IMO, the suggestions for more healthy options are the best part of the receipt, but too bad the cashier doesn't have a way to make these suggestions as you order.
Anonymous melinda 10/13/2009 10:07 AM  
There really has to be a way to subscribe to the feed via email :)
Anonymous deb 10/14/2009 2:07 AM  
Fact: 70 percent of Burgerville's total food budget is spent with LOCAL producers. Sustainability is delicious!
Anonymous Anonymous 10/14/2009 12:58 PM  

Thanks for pimping Burgerville, but also blasting their interior design.

I'm not a big fast foodie either, but once a month I end up in a Burgerville and every time I end up agitated as I'm yelling "Redo the interiors! These make no sense in context with your message!" I've told my wife many times the place needs to look like a freaking Jamba Juice inside to match all their wind/solar/local/sustainable mantras. Turn the lights up, all wood should be maple or birch veneers, put some wood floors in, and make the furniture modern. And ditch the jukebox and instead play Sigor Rios and Hotel Costes tracks non-stop.

I'd rather mistake the place for a yoga studio than a Happy Day's set.
Blogger mathowie 10/14/2009 1:25 PM  
Nobody gives a crap about calories at a fast food store.
Anonymous Anonymous 10/15/2009 9:46 AM  
If there were more restaurants doing that here in the states it might slim down the population a bit. Kinda weird though about the sweet potato vs. regular fries. I never would have thought it to be a culprit. We eat them raw all the time, so hopefully it's in the cooking.
Anonymous Laney Landry 10/16/2009 1:49 PM  
Why are so many people afraid to see the nutritional value (or not) of what they eat?
Anonymous Anonymous 10/19/2009 4:58 AM  
I can't believe this guy ate two whole meals and a smoothie. No wonder he needs to know this information.
Blogger Blazerdamus 10/21/2009 9:53 AM  
that info should have been present in menu itself... don't you think that would have been better for customers... harmful for the restaurant i think ... bcoz no1 will eat if they find it before eating....
Anonymous r4 ds games 10/28/2009 12:40 AM  

Fun fact: some people have, like, friends, and spouses, and families. They're known to eat together with these other individuals!
Anonymous Neven 11/06/2009 11:54 AM  
I'm afraid to see how many calories are actually in an order of Walla Walla Onion Rings when they are back in season.
Anonymous The Guilty Carnivore 11/11/2009 9:57 AM  
Cute comment about the Nutricate guys needing a new name if they have to tell you how to say it. But if you think about it, the pronunciation guide is only there to complete the pseudo-dictionary definition, which they apparently included to beat people over the head with their clever coinage. Just as precious.
Anonymous PDX editor 11/12/2009 1:45 PM  
FWIW, the "regular"sweet potato fries are obviously(judging from the carb content) a bigger portion than the "regular" regular fries.....
Anonymous Anonymous 11/17/2009 4:58 PM  
Sweet potato fries are very good for health as it contains more fibre than any other breakfast. I think this breakfast is the cool one.
Anonymous boat fenders 11/18/2009 11:25 PM  
These days, most of the UK chains are pretty good with nutritional information, displaying it in the stores, although the food still sucks. We just don't do fast food well - we import the worst and even screw that up. It's amazing to see the clean, spacious KFC restaurants in, say, Iceland, and compare them to the awful, cramped counter-only equivalent in the UK, which have much worse food. Burgerville looks good, and I rather liked Chick-fil-A last time I was in the US, but I'd bet both would be worse than McDonald's on landing in this country!

Oh well - at least we still have fish 'n' chips (until the fish runs out or becomes too pricey - just the fish alone's running to around $6.50 here these days).
Anonymous Craig Grannell 12/14/2009 2:44 AM  
Now what about the Disneyland Scammer? Don't keep us waiting any longer!
Anonymous Alan Joyce 12/14/2009 11:20 PM  
It was a great post to go through.Even I will support the though of eating healthy and nutritive food rather then opting for fast food.
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Blogger Peter 12/16/2009 12:49 AM  
Great news
Anonymous reiner 1/25/2010 7:02 AM  
Anonymous affiliate 2/01/2010 8:02 PM  
oh thank god for calorie counters. once upon a time, grown up educated adults were able to navigate the oh-so tricky waters of understanding when it came to puzzling things like, how much high fat foods to consume. now of course, our development is so arrested we applaud the obvious. perhaps soon i'll be able to get a receipt with handy tips for proper hydration. like: 'bring cup of liquid to mouth and swallow. do this until you are no longer thirsty."
Anonymous Anonymous 2/04/2010 2:38 PM  
The reason Sweet Potato Fries contain more calories than regular fries is simple - the length of the starch compounds. Under heat, some starch breaks down back into maltodextrose and glucose molecules, which leads to a more porous product that takes a) longer in heat to become a fry and b) unlike the higher water content regular fry, does not expel as much steam, effectively pushing out the cooking fat. Well done fries contain no internal cooking fat, sweet potato fries always do.
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Name:Cabel Maxfield Sasser
Job:Co-Founder, Panic Inc.
Location:Portland, OR