Good Times, Mixed Ingredients

I prefer Fat Head to Super Size Me. I don’t think much of anti-fast food hysteria. I regard forcing restaurants to post calories as both foolish and tyrannical. I oppose the Nanny Statist campaigns against fast food and Ronald McDonald.

Yet I also believe that ultimately consumers drive production, and smart consumers demand full disclosure from producers. (The government rightly steps in to punish fraud.) Consumers should spend their money wisely and insist on quality goods.

Therefore, after I drank a yucky strawberry-banana shake from Good Times Burgers, I contacted the company to lodge a complaint and figure out what was wrong with it. Christi Pennington, an “executive assistant” with the company, helpfully provided me with full nutritional details.

Generally I like Good Times. I have regarded the best burger for the money in the Denver area is a bacon “bambino” burger (at $1.39 last time I checked), times two (and throw away the top buns). And generally I like the custard there.

A quick look at the ingredients indicates why the custard is pretty good whereas the shake was pretty bad. Here are the ingredients for the “custard base:” “All-Natural: Milk, Cream, Sugar, & Egg Yolks & Grade A Milk Powder.” (The ingredients come from a document dated September of 2010.) Relatively wholesome (though of course a lot of sugar is bad for you, and most Americans eat way too much of it).

Contrast those ingredients with the ones found in “strawberry syrup:” “High Fructose Corn Syrup, Strawberry Puree, Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (preservative), Cellulose Gum & Artificial Colors (red 40 & blue).”

So, in other words, my “strawberry”-banana shake was actually a corn shake with several added chemicals, and a bit of strawberry. Gross.

Good Times lists the meat as “Meyer All Natural, All Angus,” which is good. However, I got nervous when I saw a listing for soybean oil immediately beneath the listing for meat. So I asked about this. Thankfully, Pennington replied, “No we do not cook the meat in oil at all.” That’s good, because as a rule I regard all vegetable fat as suspect.

Unfortunately, Good Times continues to add hydrogenated fat to a number of its products. Everyone agrees that’s horrible for you. You can get all sorts of conflicting dietary advice, but one of the well-documented and universally accepted claims is that hydrogenated fat is bad.

And yet Good Times serves up hydrogenated fat in all of the following products, according to the ingredients lists Pennington sent me: bambino bun, chicken dunkers, crispy chicken filet, onion rings, mushrooms in sauce, onion tanglers, cake cone, cheesecake (a custard flavor), cherry hearts, cookie dough, graham cracker, Heath English toffee, hot fudge, Oreo cookies, polar chips, pound cake, waffle cone, and whipped topping.

So I won’t be buying any of those items from Good Times! I mean, come on: you can make regular buns without hydrogenated fat but not bambino buns? How about you just get rid of the crappy vegetable oil altogether?

While we’re on that topic, I was relieved to read that AMC pops its popcorn in coconut fat, not vegetable fat. (The coconut, along with the avocado and the olive, is a fruit. My general view is “fruit fat good, vegetable fat bad.” Notably, you can find the former, but not the latter, in nature.) I think those calling for vegetable fat as a replacement for coconut fat are simply idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about. Thanks, AMC, for not subjecting your customers to unhealthy vegetable fat! (That said, popcorn is not inherently a health food! But that doesn’t mean moderate consumption is especially bad for you.)

When I make a strawberry banana milkshake, here are the ingredients I use: frozen strawberries, bananas, cream, and milk. (Sometimes I add commercial but quality ice cream, though I’ve decided to stop buying that.) When I make popcorn, I use popcorn, butter, and a little salt.

Perhaps a representative for Good Times would care to leave a comment here when the restaurant has decided to at least phase out hydrogenated fat.

So be a smart consumer, take responsibility for your choices, and don’t go crying to government to do your thinking for you. Because once you authorize politicians and bureaucrats to micromanage your life, there will be no stopping them. And that is the single most pressing threat to your health and safety.


Anonymous commented June 24, 2012 at 8:18 PM
just drank a yucky banana shake from GoodTimes. Though they might actually JUST add a banana to their custard… no such luck. Not because I looked up the ingredients -found your blog. but because that taste was obviously NOT just a banana added to custard. darn. I told my kids, let’s stop eating chemicals! ok. we are going to see how that goes. No chemicals for tomorrow. thanks for your blog. I am not going to try to find what the heck makes banana flavor besides a good old banana…. chemicals, I’m sure.