Dunch: It's What's For Dinner. Or Lunch. Or Both!


Matt Yglesias hems and haws over the new extra-long sandwich campaign from sub-chain Potbelly, which invites you to step inside for "DUNCH."

The idea was, basically, that people ought to be eating larger sandwiches for lunch. Messing around with their nutritional information calculator, I see that if you order a regular-sized meatball sandwich and an oreo milkshake from Potbelly's you'll be taking in over 1,400 calories at lunchtime. So it's not clear that a larger portion size is what's really needed here. And, as a general principle, it's very hard to believe on the merits that what Americans need to be doing is eating more food.

But there's a very profound problem of evolutionary psychology here. For the vast majority of human existence people were engaged in much more daily physical activity than is the typical member of a contemporary rich society and it was impossible to be certain that food would be available in the future. Consequently, people are largely designed with the instinct to err on the side of eating more food rather than less. Especially if the food is tasty. These days, of course, we're in a very different situation. Nobody starves to death in the contemporary United States, but lots of people have problems related to poor dietary habits.

Hardly an original point on my part. But the sign made me think of it. And I suppose I would make the point that at the margin expenditures of funds to fight this tendency are going to do a lot more to improve public health than will expenditures of funds to treat people's diabetes.


As someone who enjoys Potbelly but has on more than one occasion decided to head for Subway instead in order to get a bigger sandwich, I think this misses the point. Painfully bad made-up marketing buzzwords aside, what if you're just extra hungry? Sometimes a six-inch sub isn't enough — and my uncomplicated desire for a couple of extra meatballs shouldn't be the domain of our nation's policy makers. 

Jacob Sullum wrote about fast food lawsuits here. Gary Alan Fine wrote about the misguided war against fast food here.  

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  1. I see that if you order a regular-sized meatball sandwich and an oreo milkshake from Potbelly’s you’ll be taking in over 1,400 calories at lunchtime. So it’s not clear that a larger portion size is what’s really needed here. And, as a general principle, it’s very hard to believe on the merits that what Americans need to be doing is eating more food.

    See thread on Mother Jones criticizing drug war down-blog. Liberals letting people put whatever they want into their bodies? Puhleaze!

  2. Yglesias is a moron.

    The meatball is usually always the worst option and the oreo shake doesn’t help. Choosing that as an example is ridiculous.

    Eating a larger lunch is generally better for you than eating a large dinner late at night.

  3. my uncomplicated desire for a couple of extra meatballs

    I think Freud would beg to differ.

  4. I like those peppers in oil from Potbelly’s. Really the only reason I go there instead of other sandwich places.

  5. The nannies just can’t leave you alone.

    And think – if the Congress passes their bull spit health care agenda, they’ll use it as the hammer to squash your ability to enjoy an extra tasty meat ball sandwich on the grounds that it costs money to fight obesity, diabeties, yadda, yadda, yadda.

  6. Why didn’t MY comment on the effectiveness of markets when Potbelly’s released their line of SKY sandwiches. I’m not sure what the calorie count is for a skinny turkey with mustard and a bottle of water, but I bet it’s less than 1400. And those sandwiches are cheaper than the regular.

  7. Potbelly makes a damn fine sandwich, but just the other day I was thinking, “Too bad there isn’t a larger serving size so that I can feel smugly superior about ordering the smaller one.”

    Fuck you, Yglesias (if that’s even your real name.) My fragile ego requires me to be surrounded by fatties so that I’m svelt by comparison. If you and your nannyists take that away from me, my wrath will not be contained by the rules of polite society.

  8. They want to ration our healthcare, why not our meals?

    The government is telling (or wanting to) what to drive, how to run our companies, what to do with our money, what medicine we can take, what doctors we will visit, what recreational drugs we can use (alcohol and caffeine are fine but pot is bad). They are telling us what we can or cannot do in almost every other aspect, why not control our diet? After all, if we eat bad food, that will increase the cost of the government-insurance.

    Next step, Soylent Green!

  9. Next step, Soylent Green!

    Everybody, listen to me!!! Soylent Green is made with wise latinas!!!!!

    OK, I’ll stop now.

  10. Dunch? Man, I don’t think that compressing lunch and dinner into one meal will actually work. By the evening I’ll be hungry again.

    Thankfully, there’s Fourthmeal.

  11. Wow, Yglesias almost wanders into personal responsibility territory there with the last sentence of the second paragraph before blowing it.

  12. “head for Subway instead in order to get a bigger sandwich”

    I always get the Subway 12″ sandwich. Works out perfectly; 8″ for me and 4″ for my delightfully charming German shepherd dog, Heather.

  13. Socialize food! Any one who wants more than 1800 calories a day is just being greedy!

  14. Well, if we want to stick it to the man when the man sticks it to us, clearly the solution is to force all lawmakers to eat what we tell them, and by WE I mean the people of CA who are the only ones able to this at present. The law enforcers must also comply. Once the cops can’t eat donuts any more, maybe they’ll let us all off with a “warning.”

  15. Dunch? Isn’t that slang for a fat chick’s twat?

  16. I love these words! I came up with “booker” which is a boner for a hooker. Now eat up!

  17. What, do they not have the “Bigs” at the Potbellies near all of you? They’re definitely as much food as a Subway footlong.

  18. I thought dunch was short for donkey punch, and that Yglesias needs to be on the receiving end of many, many more of these.

  19. We have “bigs” in Chicago – perfect size (and if they’re really 30% more material, a more efficient use of money too.)

  20. reminds me of the candy bar I invented once upon a time…THE SCHLOUNCH!

  21. We could always promote amateur porn sites to address obesity in America. After a few of my xtube fans told me how much they like bears, I started to loose weight.

  22. I did the math real quick (made my brain hurt, but I did). The 1400 calorie Dunch replaces lunch and dinner (much like brunch replaces lunch and breakfast). This works out to 700 calories for lunch and 700 for dinner. Most Americans don’t have a very heavy breakfast (if any at all), so that works out to no more than 2100 calories which is just a little over the FDA’s recommendation.

  23. I forgot to add this, but shouldn’t the government support Dunch? Less time spent driving, less fuel used. That would satisfy the eco-nuts.

  24. nice post…
    The best place for the best ENTERTAINMENT

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