Wal-Mart is linked to US obesity crisis, but will open deep-fried food restaurants anyway

Source: AP
Source: AP

It's one small deep-fried step for Wal-Mart and one giant leap backwards for America's obesity epidemic: Wal-Mart plans to house a State Fair of Texas-themed restaurant in many of its locations nationwide, the Dallas Morning News reported. 

Called State Fair Treats, the restaurant will serve a 45-item menu that celebrates "the treats families enjoy every year when they make an annual pilgrimage to the fair," the publication noted, citing a news release.

So what can customers expect? Well, the state fair is notorious for its truly gluttonous food offerings, including deep-fried everything, and State Fair Treats will not stray far from this tradition. One of the star dishes of the 2015 fair was the Deep-Fried Cheeseburger Basket: a cheeseburger topped with bacon, french fries and onion rings, all wrapped in a flour tortilla and deep-fried. 

A photo posted by (@) on

(Above: a deep-fried bacon burger dog slide on a stick, a mouthful in more ways than one.)

But here's the beef: According to a 2015 paper, Wal-Mart's expansion may have added weight to the country's obesity crisis, the Washington Post reported then. Wal-Mart pioneered food distribution methods that made it possible to sell junk food in bulk at very low prices. 

In recent years, Wal-Mart has worked to re-market itself as a company that cares about the health of its consumers. The company penned blog posts about eating healthy for cheap, and the New York Times noted in 2012 that Wal-Mart lowered the prices of its fresh fruit and vegetables and added "great for you" labels to many of its items. The addition of a state-fair-themed restaurant that offers deep-fried foods at affordable prices is immensely contradictory to the health initiatives.

Isaac Rousso, the man working with Wal-Mart to launch State Fair Treats, is a popular concession stand operator at the fair, news outlet WFAA noted. A number of his creations — including his Cookie Fries, Smoky Bacon Margarita, Deep-Fried Cuban Roll and Fried Pop Tart — have won in the fair's Big Tex Choice Awards. Since he's the brains behind the whole thing, customers can expect plenty of over-the-top, oil-slicked atrocities in addition to the corn dogs, funnel cake fries and deep-fried, bacon-and-cheddar-stuffed hash browns Rousso plans to sell at the restaurant, the Dallas Morning News said. 

Rousso's cookie fries
Source: 
Texas State Fair/Facebook

The first State Fair Treats will open inside of a Walmart in Plano — just outside of Dallas, where the fair is held each year, WFAA said. This is just the start of deep-fried apocalypse, though: There are more restaurants planned for other North Texas Walmart locations in the next year. 

Wal-Mart is ripe on less-than-stellar concepts lately — from its decision to sell deep-fried Twinkies kits to its thoughtless twin tower Coke display — but opening a restaurant dedicated to fried foods has the potential to be the most damning. If anything, it's definitely one the grocery chain's most irresponsible choices. 

Wal-Mart's deep-fried Twinkies kit
Source: 
Mary Altaffer/AP

Approximately 160 million Americans are considered either overweight or obese, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

And hey — 140 million customers walk through the doors of a Walmart every week, the Dallas Morning News reported in 2013. Selling these folks hot funnel cakes, a 760-calorie food, counteracts Wal-Mart's health initiative. Consuming fried foods, unsurprisingly, has been associated with obesity, and being obese can increase a person's risk for Type 2 diabetes and stroke.

If Wal-Mart truly cared about the well-being of its customer base, perhaps it would add salad bars to its stores instead. 

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Khushbu Shah

Khushbu Shah is the deputy food editor. She can be reached at khushbu@mic.com.

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