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8 Weirdest Food Gimmicks—Ranked

"What's grosser than gross?" my friend's 8-year-old nephew asked me the other day, bursting with anticipation. He had the classic answers ready: sliding down a razor blade slide into a pool of alcohol, eating scabs, finding half a roach in your burger.

Instead I said: "The Whopperito."

Every month, food manufacturers release a new Frankenfood into the market—the equivalent of edible clickbait. The formula is cynical and predictable. Take two '80s junk foods laced with sodium, sugar and nostalgia, and mash them together. The result has the nutritional equivalent of a Buzzfeed article—and unfortunately for your weight loss, just as popular. Restaurant Brands, the parent company of Burger King and Taco Bell, home of the craziest gimmicks in recent months, saw sales rise 25 percent this year—an all time high.

Eat This, Not That! has spent the last decade analyzing the worst of the worst Frankenfoods, from Frito's Pizza to the Waffle Taco. With the release of the latest monstrosity—Swedish Fish Oreos!—we took the top 10 most popular and currently available meals into our Food Lab and ranked them nutritionally. Here they are, in order from "best" to worst—and for more shocking food choices, don't miss our essential list of The #1 Worst Menu Option at 40 Popular Restaurants!

Pizza Hut's Beer-Infused Pizza

Nutritionals not available

This is a thing—a real thing—tested in May of this year at a UK Pizza Hut. "We know that craft beers are really popular right now and we're celebrating this not just by adding craft beers to our menus, but also by adding this to our pizza dough," Pizza Hut's Director of Marketing, Kathryn Austin, told the Mirror. "It took our team many hours to perfect the recipes and flavor combinations, but all of their hard work definitely paid off as we're thrilled with the results and can't wait for our customers to try them." Considering the chain has previously filled its crust with hot dogs and tator tots, this isn't so bad when considering the things making you fatter.

Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos

170 calories, 10g fat (3.5 g saturated), 380 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 3 g fiber, <1 g sugars, 8 g protein

Crazy indeed: Despite having decent calorie, fat and sodium counts, the ingredients—cheddar cheese, seasoned beef and iceberg lettuce—are wrapped in a Fiery, Cool Ranch or Nacho Cheese Doritos Shell. And Doritos are made with MSG. The additive makes everything taste more appetizing, increasing your desire to continue noshing. Plus, MSG also increases appetite by blocking the message to the brain that you've eaten your fill. In fact, one group of researchers found that giving laboratory rats MSG increased their food intake by a whopping 40 percent! And after you've filled your belly to the brim with MSG, the chemical tells your body to pump out insulin, the fat-storage hormone. This surge of insulin causes your blood sugar to plummet and your hunger to return—with a vengeance. For a list of better options south of the border, check out this list of Every Menu Item at Taco Bell—Ranked!

Burger King's Whopperito

570 calories, 26 g fat (11 g saturated, 1.5 trans fat), 7 g sugar, 1,110 mg sodium, 29 g protein

The King is dead. Long live the Taco Bell Chihuahua? Who else could have created this dog of a mash-up, which looks like a chopped-up Whopper with added pepper blend cheese, onions and taco sauce, stuffed into a tortilla? On the bright side, it has less calories (570 to 630), less fat (26 g to 38 g) and more protein (29 g to 26 g) than a traditional Whopper. On the dark side, both lead to love handles.

Swedish Fish Oreos

Estimated, based on the Oreo Red Velvet variety: (2 cookies, 29 g): 140 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated), 60 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 13 g sugars, 0 g protein

Only available at Kroger stores (and eBay), this limited edition offers consumers a flavor they "never have thought was possible," according to an Oreo spokesperson. (In fact, we're still trying hard to not think about it.) Early reviews say the cookies taste like—surprise—and Oreo with a Swedish Fish in the middle, minus the gummy chew. As a gimmick, we rate this an A—it's trending on social media as we speak. But nutritionally, this is one fish that's all foul. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with The 36 Most Popular Cookies in America—Ranked

Burger King's Mac N' Cheetos

310 calories, 13 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 9 g sugar, 710 mg sodium, 9 g protein

These aren't baked but whoever greenlit them might have been. Mac n' Cheetos are what they sound like: Mac and cheese coated with Cheetos flavor, shaped like Puffed Cheetos and then served warm. You'll need a glass of Whopper Wine to wash the taste out of your mouth. No side dish should have ¼ of your daily intake of saturated fat. Eating meals like that are just one of the 40 Habits That Make You Sick and Fat.

Deep Fried Twinkies

220 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 16 g sugar, 300 mg sodium, 3 g protein

Available exclusively at Wal-Mart, this state fair indulgence is now available to enjoy every single day of the year. But don't. Deep-fried Twinkies have 40% more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and 30 more calories. John Pearson, the senior buyer of frozen foods at Wal-Mart, was candid about his motivations: he wants to make money from your nostalgia. "We set up a meeting with Hostess to discuss the details," he writes on a Wal-Mart blog. "Why this product could succeed. How it lines up with our philosophy of making shopping fun and exciting again. How consumer trends tell us to focus on both products that are healthy and overindulgent – those "sometimes" foods that are so good they're worth the calories." But are they worth the man boobs?

Crystal Pepsi

Crystal pepsi

Per 16 oz bottle: 200 calories, 0 g fat, 55 g sugar, 0 g sodium, 0 g protein

A flop in the early '90s, this clear Pepsi is back just in time for the "clean eating" trend. But this soda's dirty. It has the sugar equivalent of three Snickers bars, and is just a play for nostalgia, complete with a concert series starring En Vogue, Lisa Loeb, Biz Markie and Salt-n-Pepa. Push it real good—out of your diet. And before you crack open that can, don't miss this shocking list of the 70 Most Popular Sodas—Ranked by How Toxic They Are!

Wayback Burger's Triple Triple Burger

1,780 calories, 108 g fat (42 g saturated fat), 700 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrates

It'd be one thing if this were a one-time gimmick just to nab headlines, but the chain proudly features the Triple Triple front and center in its marketing and website: 9 burger patties with 9 slices of American cheese, stacked high. This one will take you way, way back—ideally to a time before you ordered it, so you can make a smarter swap. Throw in a side of fries (260 calories) and a Regular Mint milkshake (1,070 calories) and you've got a 3,110 calorie meal with the fat equivalent of 10 Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts!

David Zinczenko
Dave is a globally recognized expert in health, fitness, nutrition, and weight loss and is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 25 books in 15 languages. Read more about David