New York City's regulation requiring the conspicuous posting of calorie counts on restaurants' menu boards was supposed to apply just to big chains that standardize their dishes and already do (or can easily afford) nutritional analyses. But A.P. reports that the threshold for the rule, 15 or more outlets nationwide, is low enough to include obscure local chains and quasi-chains:

"This has been an absolute nightmare," said Enrique Almela, director of operations at Singas Famous Pizza, which has 17 restaurants, most in the borough of Queens....

Almela spoke with The Associated Press from his car Wednesday as he rushed sample pizzas to a food laboratory. He said the calorie tests for his 35 different pizza combinations will cost $10,000, and he doubts they will produce accurate data.

"I may put 15 pepperoni on a pie. Someone else may put 12. We don't measure the amount of cheese we put on," he said. "If you put up roundabout numbers, how does that help anyone?"

The deadline also looked problematic for a unique class of New York City eateries: loosely affiliated, largely immigrant-owned restaurants that share the same name and sometimes the same suppliers, but operate independently.

Afgan Paper & Food Products, which distributes food and packaging materials to many of the eateries, said it was scrambling to get them calorie info.

"The stores are all calling and asking for information. We don't have it," said Mariam Mashriqi, a receptionist at the company.

In the meantime, Mashriqi said, some owners were paying for the laboratory tests themselves.

"These are small stores. They are barely making a profit," she said.

You can find recent reason coverage of the menu board rule here, here, and here.

[via Scott Stein at When Falls the Coliseum]