Oct. 19, 2009 -- A hot dog on a stick -- encrusted in French Fries? Or, perhaps, a peanut butter, banana and bacon donut? Do these offerings sound tasty, or just too ridiculous? Regardless, they're just a couple of the creations that define what some have termed the "gross-food movement."
The phrase comes from Gourmet magazine, in an article published in June.
"The Gross-Food Movement, as I hereby christen it, is a grassroots embrace of all things deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, and cheese-slathered," wrote Robert Ashley in the article.
Jessica Amason and Richard Blakeley, co-creators of the blog and book, "This Is Why You're Fat," noticed a trend in crazy food items and developed the website around the idea. The book will be released on Oct. 27, and it goes into more depth than the blog, including recipes and stories from the creators of these items.
"The items are really disgusting, enticing and hilarious," said Amason. "And people actually take the time and energy to make these things.
"It made sense that there be a one-stop-shop site for all of these gross items where users could submit their own [food creations]," she added. "The title was sort of just a cheeky joke."
Cheeky works: thisiswhyyourefat.com got a millon clicks in the first 24 hours after the site launched on Feb. 9. Some of the most deadly (or tasty) items include the "Deep Fried Brat Loaf," "French Fry-Encased Hot Dog on a Stick," and "Bacon Chocolate Cake."
One of the key attributes of the gross-food movement is size -- typically, the more, the better.
"Throughout most of human history, calories were scarce and hard to get," said Dr. David Katz, director of Medical Studies in Public Health at Yale University. "It's a new thing that we find ourselves in a world where physical activity is scarce and calories are unavoidable."
The following pages feature seven of the "grossest" foods that can be found on the blog "This Is Why You're Fat."
French Fry-Encased Hot Dog on a Stick
Who needs a bun when you can just wrap your hot dog in French fries? The French fry-encased hot dog on a stick is literally a hot dog wrapped in fries.
Health food it is not. Still, this creation may be less offensive from a nutritional point of view than some of the other offerings in "This Is Why You're Fat."
"Frying food packs in a lot more calories, and more calories are not necessarily a good thing," said Katz. But, he notes, "French fries are made from potatoes -- they're not as highly nutritious as other vegetables, but still vegetables."
And while the french fries in this creation are not the healthiest choice, Katz offers an alternative preparation that can make it marginally better for you.
"The peel of potatoes is where nutrients are more concentrated, and fry it in olive oil or canola oil," he said, adding that home gourmets would probably be wise to skip partially-hydrogenated soybean oil.
Having a hard time making up your mind between pizza or a burger? Then here's the "Pizza Burger," which combines both foods into one enormous concoction. You can probably find pizza burgers on the menus at some diners, but they don't come close to this -- a giant burger between two large meat pizzas, with eggs, bacon, and colby and pepper jack cheese added.
While the pizza burger may resonate with junk-food lovers, it is decisively less popular with nutrition experts.
"What it means is death – sodium intoxication. For the short term it'll cause bloating and weight gain," said Dr. Eric Bravermen, author of "Younger (Thinner) You Diet" and a weight loss expert.
"It's a form of suicide," he said. "These people are putting a knife to their throat with garbage food. They are digging their grave with a fork and knife and the government is serving the plate without taxing this stuff."
Braverman said that considering the ingredients packed into this monster sandwich, whether you have a small or large slice of this original "pizza" there is little doubt that it will amount to a hefty helping of calories, fat and sodium.
Among the various creations on the site, the McNuggetini may be among the most original. The "drink" portion of this bizarre treat is made with a McDonald's chocolate milkshake and vanilla vodka. On the rim of the glass is BBQ sauce, garnished with a chicken McNugget.
What may save this concoction in the eyes of some nutritionists is its relatively modest portion size -- at least you don't exceed your daily allowance of calories with one drink.
One physician was also quick to point out that milkshakes are not universally evil when it comes to calories and fat. Still, not all milkshakes are created equal.
"A milkshake couldn't be so bad, but it depends what you put in it," said Dr. Jana Klauer, a weight and nutrition expert in New York. "If you make a milkshake with lowfat milk and fruit versus a milkshake with full-fat milk, ice cream and fatty add-ins like chocolate syrup [as in the McDonald's milkshake] anyone knows that those two things are vastly different."
The Bacone, as the name suggests, consists of a cone made out of bacon, filled with scrambled eggs and country gravy, and topped with a biscuit. Created for a bacon-themed cooking competition, this breakfast dish may elicit cheers from some -- but from nutrition experts, it's all jeers.
"You might as well call the ambulance," said Katz. "Order this and call 911 and have the ambulance on the way.
"This has a week's worth of saturated fat, a day's worth of calories and probably more than a whole day's supply of salt as well," he said.
While none of the ingredients may qualify as health foods, it is the bacon that Katz said is the worst offender. Indeed, he said people should steer clear of bacon, whether in the Bacone or otherwise.
"The appropriate level of moderation of bacon is none," Katz said. "There are all sorts of problems with bacon that go beyond its nutritional property. You should have it zero times in your life.
"But recognizing that might be a bit much, be very moderate and do not construct cones out of it," he said.
Corn Dog Pizza
The cardinal rule rule of pizza may well be that you can make any kind of pizza by putting anything on top.
Take, for example, the "Corn Dog Pizza." It's a plain cheese pizza with seven whole corn dogs (still on the stick) on top. Similar to the "Pizza Burger," it combines two foods that are not often seen together.
And the similarities do not end there; nutrition experts were similarly alarmed by it.
"It's really disgusting," Klauer said. "I know they have corn dogs at carnivals. I've had cotton candy at a carnival, but never had a corn dog. A corn dog has no benefits for your body because it's fried."
What makes deep frying unhealthy is the oil that it's fried in, Klauer said. The oil is usually kept at a high temperature for a long period of time -- and that's how artery-clogging trans fats are created. Even with olive oil, which is relatively healthy, you wouldn't want to keep it too hot for too long.
Oil aside, Klauer said it's a fair bet the hot dogs used in this creation are neither low-fat nor organic. Hot dogs are usually made with meat and byproducts of meat, which means that they are not high-quality and likely very high in fat. Also, the chemicals used to preserve hot dogs, called nitrates, are associated with cancer in some studies.
"The Elvis Donut" is a glazed donut covered in peanut butter and topped with slices of bananas and piece of bacon. Unlike many of the other concoctions, this treat has some nutritional benefits.
While it is unclear how the real Elvis would have regarded this creation, it is safe to say that among nutritionists, it is not a hit.
"Objectionable on so many levels," Katz said. "Peanut butter in general is pretty nutritious, and the banana is very nutritious. But the problems begin with the donut.
Despite his objections to the donut and bacon components of this beast, however, Katz noted that at least some of what has been added to the donut actually enhances its nutritional value. Still, he said, this is another treat that is better left untouched.
Bacon Chocolate Cake
Sweet or Salty? You don't have to make that decision with the "Bacon Chocolate Cake." The cake features thick chocolate icing with chunks of cooked bacon on top.
It's not the first dish to combine salty and sweet flavors, and it won't be the last. But Klauer said the combo is far from a match made in heaven.
"Chocolate is good for you -- it has a lot of health benefits," she said. "The problem is when it's combined with sugar, and that's not so good. A lot of sugar has come into our diet recently -- it's one of the factors associated with obesity."
Add in the fat and sodium from the bacon, and you could be in for more from your snack then you bargained for. Still, for those unothodox gourmets who make contributions to the growing list on "This Is Why You're Fat," focusing on the nutritional aspects of these foods may be missing the point.
"This trend is huge; we saw it growing. It just made sense to have a community around that," Amason said. "We're part of the conversation highlighting this trend."