From a pastrami sandwich at Subway to a Caramel Pecanbon at Cinnabon, the offerings at the great American food court can be some of the unhealthiest you’ll find, anywhere. We’ve gathered 12 common food court standbys and tracked down the unhealthiest items on their menus, and it’s something you should check out before you ever head down to your local shopping mall again.
The food court is as American a concept as there is. It’s convenient, has a number of diverse choices, and is at the epicenter of that enduring monument to capitalism: the shopping mall. It also displays the melting pot nature of America; in any city across the nation you can go to its mall food court and find some combination of sushi, pizza, Cajun, pretzels, sandwiches, smoothies and more.
As our country went into consumer overdrive, the shopping mall became the focal point of all things in culture: fashion, music, food, socializing and more. The 80s was like, totally the mall culture’s heyday as people shopped ‘til they dropped and afterward could watch a pop sensation perform a concert. All this excitement naturally works up an appetite, and the food court’s role in the mall experience cannot be underestimated.
More than a conglomeration of culinary choice, the food court is the nexus for the mall’s social activity. A number of us have ailed the pain of a breakup over an Orange Julius, celebrated a victory with an oversized slice of pizza or simply enjoyed conversation, company and the absurdity of eating a massive, gooey cinnamon roll in the middle of the afternoon. The food court has been there during life’s ups and downs, and that, through no fault of its own, can make it easy to succumb to the pitfall of unhealthy eating in the name of retail therapy.
Navigating the food court, and eating tiny pieces of meat on a toothpick while doing so, and making a selection that is both in line with your palate and health goals can be difficult. Do your research ahead of time; know what menu items are available, find the healthiest option and stick to your decision once the melange of smells makes your senses go haywire. After all, you can always return a questionable clothing purchase but you can’t take back your verdict in the food court.
To make your selection process a little easier, we’ve rounded up 12 of the most popular food court staples, like Cinnabon and Panda Express, and tracked down the unhealthiest items on their menus. So check out our handy guide to the unhealthiest items in the food court, and next time maybe you’ll think twice before digging into those loaded fries from Steak Escape.