| Elizabeth Chang |
WASHINGTON (WP-BLOOM) – The New York Times’s data-driven site The Upshot published an item called “What 2,000 Calories Looks Like” that had Facebook and Twitter buzzing in late December.
The piece focused on how customers could easily eat a full day’s worth of calories at a single meal at many restaurants and fast-food spots.
You would consume roughly 2,000 calories if you had a rib-eye steak at Ruth’s Chris Steak House; or a Double Whopper with cheese, onion rings and a vanilla milkshake at Burger King.
Just one Peanut Butter Caramel Pie Shake at Sonic would blow your daily caloric budget without any solid food at all.
The story was especially effective because it included photos of each meal or menu item.
The visceral reaction I had to seeing the dishes made me wonder if I could put something similar on my phone.
A few minutes later, I had downloaded Calorific, an app that “shows you exactly what 200 calories looks like”.
The cleanly designed interface offers pictures of 200 calories’ worth of 144 foods or drinks, each nicely photographed on a plain white plate or in a clear glass.
You can check out bananas (about one and a half) or pancakes (almost three) or gin (hmm, looks like a finger or two). The photos are accompanied by the equivalent in weight (that gin is 2.8 ounces).
Foods can be sorted alphabetically, by type or by weight. In December, there was an extra section for “festive foods” that included chocolate coins (three big ones and four small ones) and iced fruitcake (one sliver, though does anyone eat fruitcake?). I could see this being a handy visual aid.
Unfortunately, almost half the photographs are blurred out unless you pay to upgrade the free version of the app. Want to see what 200 calories of cornflakes or Nutella looks like?
Want to find out what a Malteser is (the app was developed across the pond)?
You will have to cough up US$1.99. Or, you can pay 99 US cents if you share on Facebook or Twitter (diabolically clever marketing there).
I’m not sure a 144-item database is worth anyone’s money, much less that of an American unlikely to consume Bombay mix or mince pie.
Founder Nic Mulvaney does promise additional foods are coming. Quantity aside, however, there’s a quality issue in the lack of frame of reference. How large is that plate? And is that an American or European “muffin”?
Yet a picture is worth a thousand food labels.
This is an app I’d like to see beefed up.
Bottom line: Looks great, less filling.