Dunkin’s Doughnut Breakfast Sandwich Is That Bad For You

Writers confuse 'low-calorie' with 'healthy.'


This is a small thing but we just have to say: Do not second-guess your gut instinct here, guys, the Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwich on a glazed doughnut bun is, in fact, unhealthy.

The sandwich is receiving broader media attention following the announcement that Dunkin’ will offer it in stores nationally. And because the internet rewards contrarian thinking that busts the conventional wisdom, we’re seeing a few voices make a shocking point: The doughnut sandwich isn’t that bad for you.

See, for instance, the headline in Time Magazine: “Dunkin’ Donuts’ Doughnut Bacon Sandwich Isn’t As Bad As You Think.” Time’s Matt Peckham points out that the sandwich is only 360 calories “which, it turns out, is 30 calories less than the breakfast chain’s healthier-eating-angled turkey sausage sandwich.”

Or BostInno’s post on the subject, which makes the same point (emphasis ours):

According to a Dunkin’ Donuts rep, the sandwich weighs in at only 360 calories, making it a (slightly) healthier option than other items on Dunkin’s menu — for example, the 470-calorie bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwich or 530-calorie Big N’ Toasted breakfast sandwich.

So, to recap, a somewhat healthy doughnut sandwich is coming to the nation’s 7,200 Dunkin’ Donuts locations.

The first logical flaw here is the idea that “slightly healthier” means “somewhat healthy.” No it doesn’t! Fudge brownies are “slightly healthier” than fudge brownies topped with cream cheese, but they aren’t “somewhat healthy.”

The second, as Time’s Peckkham acknowledges in an update to his post, is that “low calorie” is not a synonym for “healthy” by any stretch. If it were, you could take a single Sour Patch Kid and say, “See? it’s only 5 calories, whereas that V-8 juice is 100 calories so the Sour Patch Kid is healthier!” That would leave you both undernourished and hungry.

Take it from someone who has eaten the thing: The doughnut breakfast sandwich is way less filling than a bagel or an English muffin breakfast sandwich. It will require that you either go hungry or eat more of some other food in addition to your breakfast sandwich, which takes all the advantage out of its low-cal status. Looking at the sandwich’s other nutrition facts provided by Dunkin’, you’ll see that it has a bunch of saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. The turkey sausage sandwich has all those things, too, but it’s also got a lot of fiber so at least you won’t be craving the break room cookies by 10 a.m.

Of course, headlines aside, we assume most people who order the sandwich won’t be doing so under the impression that it’s fueling their beach-body diets. (Um, about that diet…) They just want a weird treat. And that’s what they’re getting: a sodium-packed, high cholesterol, relatively low-calorie savory dessert.