They've consumed a lot of calories in the five years they've been writing about fast food. And now it's time to stop.
Growing families and high gas prices have driven Tom James and Chris Tauber - aka The Lunch Guys - to stop writing their column about new items at fast-food chains.
We took a few moments to talk with the guys about their decision and how it's going to affect their lunch hour.
Question: Was the high price of gas
the final straw for you guys?
Tom: That certainly was the proverbial straw that set it off. It was kind of a tipping point. When we saw $4-a-gallon gas, it just kind of dawned on me when I was idling one day in a drive-through line. Chris and I, we go from one to another ... you go to one Wendy's and it's packed, and you go to another and it's packed, and you know, that's lunch.
And I was just, you know, with all the stuff going on, I just don't feel right promoting that kind of eating in this environment. It's certainly not about the food, its about the waste and the style of eating it promotes.
Chris: Tom and I, we used to be in the same city, so we used to eat lunch together. Now that we're apart, we came to the realization separately. It was a day when I had to drive out to a Kentucky Fried Chicken ... and I get out there and the chipotle chicken was really bad. And I realized I wasted half an hour in the car here to spend $5 on a meal, and it cost me $3 to get there.
That wasn't the only reason, but that may have been the straw of the proverbial camel's back.
Tom: I'm no culinary preacher ... I'm just wondering what our energy crisis would be like if everyone packed lunches. ... We've done it for five years and it just seemed like a good time to stop.
Q: How has your lunch routine changed because of this decision?
Tom: Chris and I have always been, for the last five years, just hyper aware of every little banner that's on every window of every fast food place, and certainly every fast food commercial that comes on TV late at night advertising new products. And now we don't have to be aware. I can see something that's new and don't have to drive in and try it.
Chris: When we started this five years ago I just had a 6-month-old at home. And now I've got a 5 1/2-year-old old as well as two other little boys. It used to be just Tom and I eating this stuff together and now I'm like eating it on the weekends and they're saying, "Daddy, why are you eating that big bacon burger?" No, no don't eat this, guys, turn away.
And then I thought, why am I telling everybody else to eat it?
This was all Tom's idea - but we should have done it in college. You're immortal; you don't have to think about it. (In college) I'm like, "I can shove as many bacon burgers down my throat that I can handle."
Q: What's your favorite sandwich to brown bag?
Tom: You know, most people have a lunch routine and they have a few items - they have a PBJ or an apple. I haven't tapped into that yet. It's mostly kind of a vacancy at lunchtime now, because I feel this urge to rush out and investigate things. ... I haven't figured it out. I'd say right now I'm in leftover mode.
Chris: I just had a brown bag sandwich, and it was turkey and Provolone sandwich on wheat bread. I pack lunches for the kids a lot, and it's just as easy to pack one for myself.
I still do drink a lot of coffee. I love the McDonalds' iced coffee, no matter what time of day. I've tried to make my own, but it's just not the same. It is a lot cheaper, though, but not quite the same.
Tom: I can't say I'm still not going out. I'm just not doing it as often. I'm not going to abandon Chick-fil-A. We'd have to have $20-a-gallon gas. There'd have to be much worse environmental disasters for me to stop eating that sandwich.