I love Panera! But beware the 99 cent upsell!

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So I’m here at Panera Bread. Love this place. I come here fairly often to get work done. They’re really friendly (never have had a negative experience), they’ve got great food and it’s comfortable. I can hang out for hours without ever feeling unwelcome. Bonus for me, being the registered dietitian nutritionist I am I like that they’ve been posting calorie information on their menu boards for quite some time. Yes, I want to know – helps me make my best choice.

asian sesame chicken salad - yelp

Today I got the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. Never had it before – it was good. According to the menu board it had 470 calories (roughly about 1/3 of my daily calorie needs). And that did not include the baguette which comes with the salads. (Note: substitute the apple or whole grain baguette or even the chips would be a better choice than the huge chunk of refined white flour.)

But this is where they get you. Every single time I’ve ordered I was asked if I wanted a pastry for 99 cents (what a great marketing strategy for increasing revenue – do you think it’s the fast casual restaurant’s way of super sizing?). Of course I want one – but I’ve never gotten one. I know better. Most of them have more calories than my salad. Interestingly, I don’t see the calorie count of any of those available for consumers at point-of-purchase. They are however available online. I’m sure most people don’t want to know. And if you don’t want to know, you might want to stop reading.

Panera 99 cent sweet better pic my pic Panera 99 cent sweet 2 - my pic

The fewest calories of the normal (not mini) size servings ranged mid-300s (but not many of those – shortbread and fresh fruit pastry e.g.). The cinnamon roll – 620 cal, carrot cake muffin – 650 cal, pecan roll – 740 (whew) and most cookies averaged about 430 cal. I’m not saying, don’t ever do it. BUT if weight is a struggle and you wonder why despite best of intentions all week, even one indiscretion may impede efforts.


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