Do it for the ‘Gram! Whether we like it or not — let’s face it, we usually do — making monstrously gooey, sugary, and technicolor food and drink concoctions are part of life in 2018. It’s all about the visual. The squeeze on an over-stacked burger or a gooey melted cheese is food porn at its best. Rainbow everything! YOLO!
Last year, sugar-bomb drinks from seemingly every fast food or casual restaurant followed Black Tap’s lead and started stacking milkshakes with pieces of pie, cotton candy, Kit-Kats, and Snickers bars — before sprinkling the tops of these wild monstrosities with handfuls of Reese’s Pieces. Oh, and don’t forget to coat the glass in artificial chocolate sauce and maybe add a ground up Oreo or two.
These “freakshakes” might be Instagramable but, holy shit, are they unhealthy. And if we know anything about humans in 2018, it’s that we shan’t be left to our own devices. A group in the UK, called Action on Sugar, is leading a campaign to get freakshakes and other “grotesquely” high-sugar drinks banned or, at the very least, labeled as the health hazards they are. According to most health organizations, the average person should consume about 25 to 38 grams of sugar per day. Kids should have less than 25 grams. To put that into perspective, a can of regular Coca-Cola has 39 grams of sugar.
Action on Sugar notes that the average freakshake contains upwards of 1,000 calories with around 150 grams of sugar. That, folks, is nearly half our daily caloric intake and — checks the math — about four times our daily sugar intake. Um, we don’t have to be certified nutritionists to know that’s bad for you. Right?
Now, we know what you’re thinking, “But, Uproxx, those are anomalies. Freakshakes are a fad, an Instagram attention grabber, a passing fancy that few of us ever finish off on our own.” And, sure, that may be true in some cases. But Action on Sugar isn’t just talking about freakshakes. The sugar awareness group also points out that Five Guys’ Banana Chocolate milkshake packs a walloping 1,073 calories and 149 grams of sugar. 820 of those calories are in the base of the shake before the add-ons.
We popped over to Five Guys’ nutritional information page to run those numbers. And, yup, they check out. That’s kind of crazy.
Look, we, as adults, can make choices. And we have to live with them. But then, as a society, we often all have to pay for them through health care (convo for another day). Still, if you want half of your daily caloric intake to be in one sweet milkshake, what can we do? There are factors at play here, though. How many of us, honestly, think about the calories or the intense amount of processed sugar when we give in and order one of these drinks — much less get one for the ‘Gram? Knowledge is power, right?
What Action on Sugar wants is simple. Put a clear “red traffic light” warning label on milkshakes with a caloric value of over 300 calories. That’s sort of like the labels on cigarettes you see around the world these days. Some groups are calling for an all out ban on the high-sugar drinks altogether.
Let’s break it down. A shake at McDonald’s is 490 calories with 59g of sugar. Burger King’s come in at 580 with 85g of sugar. A small Frosty at Wendy’s is only 350 calories with 47g of sugar. And, interestingly, a standard Starbucks Espresso Frappuccino is only 230 calories with 48g of sugar. Of course, Starbucks is no stranger to the Instagram game with their recent spate of freak drinks, which also clock insane sugar counts.
Is a ban or even the clearer labeling action on sugar want necessary? We don’t know. We do know that the more info you have, the better your decision will be. Know what you’re eating. Ask for a nutritional menu. Learn daily intakes of sugars, protein, vitamins, and more. It’s all readily available here. And, maybe, the next time you see some sugar monstrosity, don’t do it for the ‘Gram. 133,365 people have already taken that sugar-tipped bullet for you.