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Carl's Jr. sticks with its 'indulgent' menu
What's loaded with "tangy BBQ sauce," two strips of bacon, two all-beef patties and layered with two slices of American cheese, all for a grand total of 1,000 calories?


That would be Carl's Jr.'s Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger. Loaded with 54 grams of fat, the burger is just one of the chain's high-calorie dishes that its chief executive is sticking with, despite McDonald's (MCD) push into healthier eating.


McDonald's has added a new "Egg White Delight," a version of the Egg McMuffin that reduces calories by taking out the egg yolks, as my colleague Jason Notte wrote on Thursday. The fast-food giant is also introducing a line of fruit smoothies and "Premium McWraps," with chicken entrees wrapped in flour tortillas, according to Nation's Restaurant News.


Going along with the healthier food trends is "not our personality and it won't become our personality," Andy Puzder, the chief executive of Carl's Jr. owner CKE Inc., told the Los Angeles Times. "All of our products are indulgent, decadent."


That explains how Carl's Jr. earned a D+ grade from Men's Health, which wrote that the chain "is swimming against the nutritional tide, trying to attract those with hearty appetites and less concern about fat, salt and calories."


Its customers don't seem to mind. The chain sells 20 times more Western Bacon Cheeseburgers, which have 740 calories, than its BBQ chicken sandwiches, veritable lightweights at 390 calories, the Times notes. CKE also owns the fast-food chain Hardee's.


Puzder, whom the Times describes as a trim 62-year-old jogger, is also trying to keep prices unchanged, despite what he sees as a threat from Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act, which is slated to go into effect next year, has been attacked by fast-food chains over concerns that providing coverage will raise costs.


Companies will likely increase part-time hiring, given the law requires large businesses to offer health coverage to full-time employees, Puzder said. Right now, four out of 10 workers at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's have part-time hours.


"We're doing what we can to keep the costs in line, and we don't want to raise prices," Puzder said. "But certainly price increases are on the table for everybody."
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