Hoosiers, Craveables, & Riblets

Two recent news stories. First, Report ranks Indiana 11th fattest among states:

Indiana is still getting fatter, just not as much as some other states.

In an annual report released Tuesday by the Trust for America’s Health, obesity in Indiana continued to climb as a percentage of adults but once again dropped in its ranking among all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The new report found 27.5 percent of Hoosier adults are obese, up from 26.8 percent in last year’s report. The Indiana rates were 26.2 percent in the 2006 report and 25.2 percent in 2005.

Indiana was one of 37 states that showed a higher rate of obesity in the past year — no state saw a decrease — but Indiana’s ranking improved from a tie for ninth-worst to a tie for 11th.

Yes, Indiana is getting even fatter, but some other states are getting even fatter even faster. This is the sort of depressing/pathetic part:

“There is reason to have some encouragement here,” Monroe said. “There’s a little bit of portions of a percentage change, but we’ve really kind of plateaued the curve that we were on. Our ranking improved because we held the line better than other states.

“For the first time, we’re not in the top 10, which I’m very excited about,” she said….

But it won’t be a quick fix, she said.

“The national experts believe it will take time to turn it,” Monroe said. “It’s like turning a barge. That’s why I’m excited we have plateaued … because the first thing you have to do is stop it, and then you begin to turn it.”

Basically, the big cause for celebration here is that Arkansas and Oklahoma increased their obesity rate this year more than we did. Somehow that image about trying to turn a giant barge seems like the wrong note to strike in this context.

Anyway, I thought of that story when I read this one about the new chief executive of Applebee’s:

In her business, people use phrases like “drink equity” and “healthy indulgence rebranding.” Everyone is on the hunt for the next “craveable,” an item like a whole deep-fried onion, a potato skin stuffed with bacon or, in Applebee’s case, the riblet [the riblet is the meaty piece with flat bones left over when racks of ribs are trimmed into uniform rectangles. It is a classic menu item at Applebee’s Grill and Bar.]…

You don’t come up with a quesadilla burger by catering to dieters. Applebee’s flags some menu items that have been approved by Weight Watchers, but the company is not exactly cutting a path through the calorie jungle.

That’s because what people say they want and what they eat are often different, she said as she sat in a booth at the IHOP. Nearby, a family of four was pouring different flavors of syrup over stacks of pancakes. “That’s what people want,” she said.

Among the dozen dishes on her table that day was the Georgia praline peach streusel pancake, a dish so sweet it made a Butterfinger bar seem like a refreshing palate cleanser. …

“We can’t seem to make things sweet enough for people,” said Patrick Lenow, the director of public relations for the company.

So, what’s the next craveable? A deep-fried riblet stuffed with bacon and drenched with strawberry syrup? A whole deep-fried streusel pancake? Any ideas?