Food-ish Writing
Comments 4

The Cheesecake Factory: America at Her Best—and Her Worst

Cheesecake Factory Exterior

With a castle-like façade, a phone-book-sized menu, and massive portions, The Cheesecake Factory aptly represents all-American abundance. [Coincidentally, it’s what Mitt Romney ate before the first presidential debate on October 3.] 

Beginning with its name, The Cheesecake Factory, this chain restaurant builds not upon a tradition of artisanal craft, but of mass production. The interior continues this theme. A mash-up of ancient Rome, Medieval England, and today’s Las Vegas, the restaurant interior features ridiculously high ceilings and nearly comedic interpretations of Corinthian columns, projecting an exaggerated view of middle class luxury.

Cheesecake Factory Interior

The spiral-bound laminated pages of the menu boast more than 200 selections, representing a variety of ethnic traditions from pasta marinara to miso salmon—not to mention chicken teriyaki, di pana, madiera, picatta, and marsala, to name but a few. Half the menu features this multitude of food options, while ever other page features advertisements. With restaurants often located in or near shopping centers and malls, The Cheesecake Factory menu seamlessly links the dining experience to the consumerist activities outside the restaurant.

The laminated and spiral-bound Cheesecake Factory menu features items alongside advertisements

With heavily weighted cutlery, diners dig into meals served on boat-like plates, complemented by stein-like glasses better suited for mead than iced tea. The abundant choices and portion sizes match the number of calories in each entrée, as a single meal often exceeds an adult’s daily caloric needs. [In 2011, the Center for Science in the Public Interest gave The Cheesecake Factory items two of its eight Xtreme Eating Awards.]

Offering freedom of choice, abundant servings, and menu offerings representative of Americanized “melting-pot” cuisine, The Cheesecake Factory represents America at her best—and her worst.

4 Comments

  1. While you make good points in this post, you neglected to mention the new menu that the Cheesecake Factory rolled out last summer… “SkinnyLicious Menu.” While name is not so original/creative, I do believe that the chain has responded to the public’s criticism of their high calorie options responsibly with these new dishes.

    “The new menu, set to debut August 9 with a five-week rollout, features almost 50 dishes under 590 calories, with small plates and appetizers all under 490 calories and five “Skinny” cocktails under 150 calories. The menu will be available at all 151 locations and will include dishes such as the SkinnyLicious hamburger and Asian chicken salad. ” (From Huffington Post Food News)

    Like

  2. emilycontois says

    Hi Hannah,

    You’re absolutely right about that The Cheesecake Factory offers their “SkinnyLicious Menu,” providing some lower calorie options, though the calorie totals of their entrees is but one point I’m thinking about in this post. I actually discussed this “diet” menu in another post here, if you’re interested.

    Thanks for reading!

    Like

  3. We don’t have this chain in Canada and hope we never do. I did go into one…in Philadelphia I think. I was abit shocked and overwhelmed.

    Like

    • emilycontois says

      I agree that it is an overwhelming dining environment, from the decor to the flatware. And I’ve seen locations from Walnut Creek, California to Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii with lines out the door! Thanks again for reading and commenting!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s