Why Won't Checkers/Rally's Make Their Nutrition Information Available?

When we posted our Ultimate Fast Food Nutrition Guide a few months ago, a couple readers pointed out that Checkers/Rally’s, the chrome and neon double drive-thru hamburger joint, has refused to provide nutrition information to customers for years.

Checkers/Rally’s, whose fatalistic slogan “You Gotta Eat!” apparently justifies its menu of triple cheeseburger Nascar meals, double Philly cheese steak burgers (that’s a double cheeseburger with a cheese steak on top) and thirty-two ounce medium sodas, has over 800 locations across 28 states, more than such chains as Boston Market and Roy Rogers. Unlike most fast food restaurants, which make nutrition information available on their website or in store, Checkers/Rally’s is oblivious to such concerns (see picture above). Worse, inquiries by customers have been met with the same canned response:

“Thank you for your interest in the nutritional value of our menu items. We are currently reviewing our nutrition information due to several recent menu changes. We do not have a set date for the release of this information. You can find general information on this topic at http://www.Nutrition.gov or Food and Nutrition Information Center http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns or Healthfinder-Gateway to Reliable Consumer Health Information http://www.healthfinder.gov.
Thank you,
Checkers Drive-In Restaurants”

We emailed the company’s PR person and asked why it didn’t make this information available, but received no response.
For those wondering if some law requires Checkers/Rally’s to make this information available, the answer is, probably not. According to the FDA, restaurants are generally exempt from any requirements to publish nutritional information. The exception to this rule is that whenever a company makes a health claim, such as low calorie, less fat, and so on, they are required to make available nutritional information sufficient to back up this claim. These types of health claims are becoming more common in fast food advertising, but are noticeably absent from Checkers/Rally’s; perhaps this is intentional?

A Labeling Guide for Restaurants and Other Retail Establishments Selling Away-From-Home Foods [U.S. F.D.A.]
Checkers’ Nutrition Info Missing: What Is Checkers Hiding?
Checkers Drive-In (Nutrition Information Is Not Available)

Comments

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  1. snoop-blog says:

    Mmmmm. Rally’s. I love me some rallyburgers, not to mention they have the best fries.

  2. Alex Chasick says:

    @snoop-blog: Yes, I neglected to mention that Rally’s is totally delicious and may be the South’s answer to In N Out, but I’d still like to know how awful it is for me.

  3. Toof_75_75 says:

    I’m perfectly satisfied with them not providing the information. If a consumer is upset they won’t provide it and is worried the food might be too unhealthy, pressure the company by no longer buying food at their restaurants. If they start losing income over the issue, then they’ll give in and provide the requested information.

  4. Xay says:

    I accepted that any meal at Rally’s was going to take a day off my life a while ago. That’s why I savor that meal twice a year.

  5. EyeHeartPie says:

    Somehow, I doubt that people who would buy a double Philly cheese steak burger would care to know whether they were ingesting 2000 calories or 3000 calories.

  6. DrGirlfriend says:

    This reminds me of Quizno’s…for a long time they held that info back. By the time I started looking online for that info, I found a lot of sites full of complaints about their refusal to provide it, and found that lots of people said they had emailed Quizno’s HQ. Now they have *some* info, at least. I, personally, emailed a couple of places that are close to my office and where sometimes I grab lunch if I haven’t brought my own, and months later, nutritional info started popping up. I think people just need to start asking. And yeah, don’t eat there anymore until they do, if it’s important to you to know what you are ingesting.

    And in threads like these you always have people going, “well, it’s fast food, of course it’s high in calories”. Which is true, but there are those who still want to *know*. A lot of restaurant foods are more calorie-laden than even those who are knowledgeable about food know, because there may be ingredients you aren’t aware of.

  7. snoop-blog says:

    @Alex Chasick: Well considering you don’t have to be in shape to do your job, sorry just pointing out the obvious, you should be fine. Unless your fingers become soo fat that you couldn’t type.

  8. afrix says:

    Some things are way too obvious.

    This is a classic case of “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” If you have to know the details of just HOW unhealthy their food is, you can’t afford to put ANY of it in your system.

    We all know about alcohol in general. Likewise, we all know about greasy bacon burgers and fries in general. Do you REALLY need the gory details? “It’s bad!” is all you need to know.

    Excess is OK. Really, it is. I mean, moderation in all things–including moderation. But an excess of excess–well, one should know that’s bad.

  9. afrix says:

    @DrGirlfriend: “And in threads like these you always have people going, “well, it’s fast food, of course it’s high in calories”. Which is true, but there are those who still want to *know*.”

    We as a nation are WAY too obssessed with knowing trivial and ultimately meaningless details.

    That one wants to *know* is a big so what? Thankfully they’re free not to publish anything about their food. Thankfully we live in a country where you still have some obligation to get your own clue.

    Greasy $2 bacon cheeseburgers–what more do you really need to *know*?

  10. Mayor McRib says:

    Does it really need to be plainly spelled out that a double cheeseburger with cheese steak on top, while delicious to people like me, is not good for you.

    Maybe their food had been deemed to have NO nutritional value. So by listing nothing they are actually complying?

  11. DrGirlfriend says:

    @afrix: So who is to say what is trivial knowledge? Seems like a subjective categorization to me.

  12. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    It’s pretty clear why they won’t provide the information. They’d have to disclose that each serving exceeds your recommended daily intake of urine and toilet water:

    [www.wftv.com]

  13. getjustin says:

    @Mayor McRib: I’m calling AVATAR infringement, McRib. I’m the real Mayor in town, bub.

  14. Gopher bond says:

    I just grabbed a pack of smokes and looked to see if there was some nutritional information and I see a warning that these things have been proven to cause cancer!

    Has anyone else seen this? Since when? How can they still sell it if they cause cancer? Is there someone I can complain too?

  15. dh86sj says:

    “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

    Pretty much sums it up.

  16. nsv says:

    What’s worse: ticking off a few people who are curious about nutrition information, or actually publishing that information and seeing dozens of articles and blog entries complaining that a double Philly cheese steak burger has enough calories to sustain the average person for two full days?

    Come to think of it, if all publicity is good publicity, maybe they should publish the info.

  17. dragon2o00 says:

    While we all accept that fast food will not be good for you, will have a lot of calories, and will have a lot of fat, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be offered the specific numbers. Just because our country is getting fatter and fatter doesn’t mean Checkers/Rally’s is justified in their refusal to provide nutrional info. There are plenty of people who want to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle yet wants to hit a fast food joint occasionally.

    I try to be healthy but I like fast food just as much as anyone else. I check the nutritional info for places I like to eat to get an idea of what I should order without putting too many calories/fat in me. I know that if I go to Wendy’s, I can get a jr cheeseburger delux and a small chilli and that’s only about 600 calories and less than 20 g of fat, which at least calorie-wise is a reasonable amount for one meal. I’m sure I’m not the only person who does this in this country…

  18. hellinmyeyes says:

    I love me some Rally’s, not gonna lie. It’s probably best I don’t know the information. I do like sites that do a good job of giving you the information you want. I just surfed through the Chick-Fil-A link from the May post; it’s thorough and helpful. I must’ve missed that list before for some reason. Very good information!

  19. sleze69 says:

    @dh86sj: /agree. I just want to love their delicious fries and not know about my arteries.

  20. DrGirlfriend says:

    @nsv: McDonald’s publishes their nutritional info, and they aren’t going out of business anytime soon.

  21. B says:

    A double philly cheese steak burger sounds really good. Can I get it with cheese fries?

  22. nsv says:

    @DrGirlfriend: When they started doing that, I was commuting with a friend and we’d stop for breakfast there every day. I immediately switched from their bacon, egg and cheese biscuit to an Egg McMuffin. No loss for them, and I dropped half the calories.

  23. chefdkb175 says:

    “All things in excess! Moderation is for monks.”

    -R.E.Heinlein

  24. nsv says:

    @chefdkb175: And look–he’s DEAD!

  25. Magspie says:

    If I’m going to be eating greasy burgers and fries anyway, I’m not gonna worry too much about the fat and calories, but I’d still like to know whether it has hydrogenated oils and MSG and what other weird chemicals it has, or at least know how far up on the ingredient list they are. And what about allergy info?

  26. chefdkb175 says:

    Sorry, quote correction:

    “Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.”

    -R.E.Heinlein

  27. DrGirlfriend says:

    @nsv: I’ve done the same thing myself. Knowing that stuff can help.

    @Magspie: Agreed, that’s why nutritional info should not just be taken to just equal calories. If nothing else, providing that info means people can’t come back and sue later because your food made them fat. ;)

  28. poetry1mind says:

    I never heard of Rally’s but I do know Checkers. I happen to love their burgers. However, after checking nutritional information on Burger King and McDonald’s, I know Checkers nutritional information would put me into shock.
    I used to think ordering something like chicken or fish made much of a difference.
    There is like no escape from calories or fat. Even if you try organic/wholefoods, you still have to be careful.

  29. Alex Chasick says:

    @B: Indeed, you can get it with Rally’s “Fully Loaded” fries, which contain cheddar cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing. Good luck eating that while driving!

  30. Alex Chasick says:

    @afrix:
    @Mayor McRib:
    @nsv:
    I’m not attacking Rally’s for serving unhealthy food. I don’t know how the other editors feel about this, but I’m not that upset by the gigantic omelette sandwich thing at BK, or the Baconator, or the entire menu at Hardee’s. If you want one of those things once in a while, go for it.
    But information is good, and the more nutrition info available, the better. Burger King unabashedly publishes the nutrition info for its Quad Stacker (1010 calories, 70 grams of fat) for those who want to know or are morbidly curious, and I appreciate that.

  31. ibored says:

    Yea absolutely agree on this one…

    If you order a dobulecheesburger topped with a cheesteak than nutritional information isn’t really on your mind. Why bother figuring out whether its 1000 or 2000 calories the person buying it won’t probably notice or care

  32. djanes1 says:

    Rally’s makes Michael Pollan cry.

  33. temporaryerror says:

    I think that Rally’s is quite possibly my favorite fast food joint. One of my main concerns about moving from Missouri to KS was the lack of Rally’s/Checkers anywhere within 100 miles of where I now live. (that, and lack of access to other things that St Louis is known for…)

  34. HeartBurnKid says:

    @afrix: Yeah, you know that that greasy $2 bacon cheeseburger is bad for you, but it’d be nice to know how bad. You know, so you can be an informed consumer adjust your diet accordingly.

    To use an example from my area, Carl’s Jr. has 3 different grilled chicken sandwiches on their menu. One of them is under 400 calories, and the other two are more in the neighborhood of 800. Absent the information, I may just have ordered any of the three, figuring, “Hey, it’s grilled, I’m sure it’s fine.” Instead, as an informed consumer, I know what I can order that will fit in my diet.

    Seriously, now, where did we get the idea that transparency is a BAD thing?

  35. theblackdog says:

    @DrGirlfriend: I want to know, simply because if I have something high in calories for lunch, I adjust my dinner accordingly so that I can stay within a healthy total for the day. Also, I found out that like most folks, I was underestimating the caloric content of some meals.

  36. darkrose says:

    Know what kids? If you have to ask for nutritional information, you probably SHOULD NOT be eating there. I mean, if you really need to see the info because you can’t figure out you’re going to blow your diet with a medium checkers/rallyburger combo, you really shouldn’t bother eating there.

    /has checkers at entrance to his subdivision.
    //eats there maybe once a quarter. maybe.

  37. nsv says:

    @Alex Chasick: Oh, absolutely. I’d hate to live in a world where the only food available was healthy food. With my original comment I was looking at it from a corporate point of view. If they keep things the same (with no info published) the results will be the same. If they publish, will the results be good or bad for the bottom line?

    If they publish, I think it would be a good thing. (See my comment above.) But the bean counters don’t know that for sure.

  38. glitterpig says:

    If they don’t make it available, people can’t be upset when it’s wrong. Didn’t the Consumerist recently link to that article where the published nutritional info of fast food places was something like 30% of the actual fat/calories? At least they can’t be accused of lying.

    I say everyone should have to publish, so we can get something like we have with packaged foods. Regional packaged foods are TERRIBLE at accuracy – you can get something labeled “100 calories, fat free!” and it’ll have 500 calories and 25 grams of fat. But national brands are, as a rule, VERY accurate – because companies are testing their competitors’ foods all the time, hoping to catch them in a lie so they can promote how much better their foods are. (Also, ff places should actually want this too – then they can point out things like how a Big Mac is lower in fat/calories than most chain restaurant offerings. Stupid chains.)

  39. Speak says:

    New York City passed a law requiring “restaurant chains operating in New York City to prominently display calorie information.” This law “applies to any New York City chain restaurant that has 15 or more outlets nationwide.” (Source: nyc.gov)

    Though there’s a lawsuit in progress, according to one article the city can begin issuing fines to non-compliant restaurants beginning July 19. If there’s still a Checkers/Rally’s in the Bronx, maybe we’ll get calorie information from that location?

  40. Ringl says:

    A friend of mine got a value meal from checkers (some type of cheeseburger, fries and a coke). He had to run in to work for about 10 minutes and when he came back to his hot car he found the dashboard and steering wheel were shiny with grease. I haven’t been there since.

  41. DrGirlfriend says:

    @HeartBurnKid: “Seriously, now, where did we get the idea that transparency is a BAD thing?”

    My take on it is that, at least in the last few years, I have noticed a trend towards being skeptical or even condescending about wanting to learn more. No matter what topic. Seeking out info is seen as being nitpicky, or as waste of time, or even snobbish in some cases. It’s almost like a collective “neeeeerd” aimed at you, if you say you want to learn more about something.

    What is even weirder is seeing that attitude on a site geared towards consumer info. Presumably you are here because you think information is a good thing.

  42. MissPeacock says:

    @theblackdog: Same here. I’ve actually stopped eating things once I found out how truly bad they were from me, and I’ve started eating others because they weren’t as bad as I’d thought they would be. And like you said, I know that if I indulge in something with X calories for one meal, I know how many more calories to allow myself for the rest of the day.

  43. 420greg says:

    Their french fries are covered in batter.

    Do you really want to see the calorie count?

  44. Toof_75_75 says:

    @DrGirlfriend:
    Hopefully you’re not misunderstanding my statement. I’m all for knowing things and learning new things, I just wouldn’t want this company to be “made” to disclose the information by some law. If they want to share, great, if not, do some scientific studying and derive the caloric levels of their foods. If you are not big on science, write letters, make phone calls and send emails. If that doesn’t work, boycott them. If enough people agree with you, your point will get across and they will give in. I simply believe it’s the company’s choice whether to offer that information up or not.

  45. theblackdog says:

    @MissPeacock: I definitely stopped eating a few things once I saw how bad they were. I loved getting the P’Zone’s from Pizza Hut while in college. When they brought them back recently I enjoyed one…then I read the calorie content a few days later…1200 calories just for one of them, so no more for me.

  46. linbey says:

    It is a SHAME that so many people sacrifice things they ENJOY for the sake of vanity!!! If you like it and it tastes good then eat it. Why should you eat things you DONT like and do things you DONT like to do just to live a few more years eating things you DONT like and doing things you DONT like to do. People never cease to amaze me. You only live once so enjoy the life you’re given

  47. HeartBurnKid says:

    @linbey: Because I also like not being 300 pounds, not having to go to specialty shops for my pants, and not getting winded walking to the mailbox. That’s why I’m working on cutting my weight, anyway.

  48. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I can’t believe that Chili Cheese Fries with Ranch dressing and bacon are not healthy!
    Shut up!

  49. Man I love the ghetto Checkers that is like 3 minutes from my house.. I’m sure it takes a few minutes of my life when I ingest it once in a while while hung over, but those “loaded” fries…mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    I will say it’s nasty when they cook their apple pies things in the same oil as the fish fillets though. That leftover fish taste is BLECH.

  50. rdldr1 says:

    Hey Checkers, all of your “out of business” and decaying restaurant buildings dotted throughout the Chicagoland area is a collective huge eye sore. Chicago wants you to take your hundreds of abandoned buildings back.

  51. thelushie says:

    @getjustin: I really wish they would bring the McRib back. I swear my BP goes up when I feast on those. I know they are bad for me but that are so good.

    Which brings me to my point. If I am going to go get greasy fast food (and after reading this thread it is a possibility), I don’t want to know what I am eating. I eat it rarely so when I do, don’t ruin it for me!

  52. thelushie says:

    @linbey: You can have anything you want, just not as much. I am one of those don’t deprive yourself people but I do believe in moderation.

  53. Ixnayer says:

    I love checkers, i don’t want to know the nutritional facts.

  54. What about listing the ingredients for people who have food allergies? Does that argument have a leg to stand on?

  55. IndigoWombat says:

    This article suggests that it only costs $2500 to get a whole menu of food analyzed for nutritional value.
    http://money.cnn.com/2008/04/24/smbusiness/full_disclosure_menu.fsb/index.htm?postversion=2008042912

    I also found another service in 2 google searche with this offer:
    Restaurant Menu Nutrition Analysis* – $85.00 per item

    Checker’s can easily pay that money, force the issue. What are they hidding?