Cousins Subs has introduced the Big Daddy, a sandwich whose gastronomic caloric punch equals that of nearly three Quarter Pounders with Cheese.
Hey! All you Triple Whoppers, Baconator Doubles, Monster Thickburgers, XXL Burritos and Footlong Quarter Pound Coneys:
You're wimps. Babies. Pansies. Losers.
Big Daddy's in town, and he's going to kick some super-sized butt.
Seeking to satisfy a key slice of its customer base, the folks at Cousins Subs, the Menomonee Falls, Wis., firm with 143 restaurants across Wisconsin, Minnesota and four other states, has unleashed a monster made of salami, bologna, pepperoni, two types of ham, three types of cheese -- and 1,470 calories.
"Wow," said Jim White, a registered dietitian and a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "That's a big sandwich."
Yes. In yet another source of Wisconsin pride, one of its companies now offers a sub that outpunches, calorically speaking, almost every sandwich sold by the country's largest fast-food chains.
Wolf down a fully dressed Big Daddy, and you'll take in nearly as many calories as in three Quarter Pounders with Cheese and more than in six Johnsonville Stadium Brats minus buns.
Cousins recently introduced the huge sub along with several other menu changes, including the addition of 50 percent more meat to its popular cheese steaks.
"What we've been hearing from our guests for a couple of years is that they're really looking for hearty sandwiches and premium quality and the best ingredients, and that's what we set out to do with the menu as a whole," marketing director Justin McCoy said. "The Big Daddy happened to be a part of that."
Marketing pros, though, doubt that the meaty mouthful was just a casual afterthought.
The high-calorie count isn't coincidence; it's the point, said Joe Locher, owner of the one-man Milwaukee ad agency Lyrical.
"It's to get people talking," he said. "It's a way to misbehave with a food item. ... It's the most outrageous thing they could think of with the stuff they have in their cooler."
Restaurant industry consultant Ron Paul of Chicago's Technomic agreed that the Big Daddy's purpose probably extends beyond generating sales.
"One of the things you need to do today is to stand out, to be different," he said. "... There is so much sameness in the market."
Cousins, in fact, has been promoting the sandwich at stores, with broadcast ads a possibility down the road.
Of course the 1,470 calorie sub isn't health food -- not with a full day's recommended serving of fat between the buns and far more than the recommended daily sodium intake.
And as for anyone trying to lose weight, it would take about five hours of walking to work off the calories, White said.
"This could set someone back days if not even a week," he said.
But in overweight America -- about a third of U.S. adults are obese -- many people aren't trying to shed pounds, and many bristle at the nagging of the eat-healthy crowd.
"So now here they are," Milwaukee ad man Steve Eichenbaum said of Cousins, "and I guess to stand out from everybody they're going to do this thing. It's sort of like the exact opposite."
Both Eichenbaum and Locher said Cousins may be seeking to distinguish itself from giant rival Subway, which for years used weight-losing regular customer Jared Fogle as its spokesman.
"It's probably a way to thumb your nose at a competitor and say, 'You know what, just relax and have fun,'" Locher said.
Not so, said McCoy. Cousins offers lots of lower-calorie sandwiches alongside the heftier helpings, he said.
"You have your healthy side, and then you have your indulgent side," McCoy said. "... You want to have a diverse menu that fits the diverse crowd that's coming through your door."
Customers can even ask for a Not-So-Big Daddy. Have it made without cheese, oil and mayonnaise and you strip away 700 calories, McCoy said.
But for the rebellious, or the just plain hungry, Cousins stands ready to deliver the total package.
"We've found over time that we have a customer base that is really ... looking for a product like that," McCoy said. "And if they don't find it by us, they're going to go somewhere else."