Fast Food News: $2 Meal Deals and Snacks on the Attack

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The number of fast-food menu items featuring the word “snack” has tripled since 2007.

That’s according to a report from Mintel Menu Insights, a Chicago-based market research company (and coming via this LA Times blog).

Interesting. Seems like they’re trying to appeal to folks who are hungry or bored, but who don’t want to deal with the costs—in terms of calories and actual money—of a full-fledged fast-food meal. Like: It’s not time for lunch or dinner, but you want something, and you know you shouldn’t be wolfing down an entire #7, even if you do get it with a Diet Coke. But a snack? Why not? That’s easier to swallow, in every sense of the word. Lots of these snacks, however, are 300, 400-plus calories a pop.

It also seems like the idea of Taco Bell’s much-mocked fourth meal, or “forthmeal,” which one was supposed to ingest sometime in the stoner netherworld between dinner and breakfast, hasn’t really gone away. Fast-food joints are constantly trying to get diners to eat more, if not by prompting them to order more on each visit (i.e., super-sizing) than by prompting them to come in and order more often.

Speaking of Taco Bell, its latest appeal to low-budget snackers is the $2 Meal Deal, which includes a drink, small bag of Doritos, and a choice of one of four burritos, gorditas, or tacos.

How to Eat on a Dollar a Day (Taco Bell Is Out of the Question)