Free beef and bacon for Boston

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway bite into a "pan bagnat," a traditional French sandwich.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has challenged Boston residents to lose one million pounds and move 10 million miles this year, so those of you who have signed on might want to steer clear of City Hall Plaza today.

Wendy’s will be “calling all bacon lovers” there between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the fast food chain will hand out free “Son of Baconator” sandwiches.

“There will be games and challenges focused around bacon, playing off the theme that ‘bacon is huge right now’,” said a spokeswoman for Wendy’s.

Not only will there be free Son of Baconators, but also Wendy’s Frosties, gift cards and bacon-themed T-shirts and merchandise – a bacon extravaganza.

On Tuesday, Menino sat down for a healthy lunch with two dozen teens who worked with local chef Didi Emmons to fix a pair of healthy dishes for him and Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

When asked about today’s event, and how it fits in with his vigorous Boston Moves for Health challenge, the mayor said, “A cheeseburger is not bad once in a while. But not if it’s a seven- day-a-week thing. If you want to have one on occasion, there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem you have when you go on a diet – you starve yourself – and when you break out, you just go crazy. You need that  balance of food intake.”

Like all other entities that rent out the City Hall Plaza for events, Wendy’s obtained a permit to sling the free burgers there, and paid an undisclosed rental fee that goes to the city.

“This is a promotion that will help us raise some money for some youth programs. So yeah, we are going to have some bacon cheeseburgers on the plaza, but also the money we get from that will educate young people about having a healthier lifestyle. So it’s a balancing act,” Menino said.

There was no bacon in sight on Tuesday’s health-conscious lunch, however. Instead the mayor was treated to handmade sandwiches and a fresh slaw, both created from local ingredients purchased by the teens at the Copley Square Farmers Market. That event was meant to raise awareness about healthy eating for local youth as part of Boston Moves for Health.

“It’s not about not eating any particular thing, it’s about really making sure that for the most part people have healthy choices, which is what the mayor has done with Boston Moves for Health,” said Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission said of today’s bacon-friendly event. “It’s about a lot of education and a lot of opportunity. We never say ‘don’t have this, don’t have that.’”

Yesterday, at the City Hall Plaza Farmers’ Market, Ben Walsh enjoyed an ear of corn as he manned the Ocean Ave. Pops stand there.

“People can make their own choices, but personally I think they are disgusting,” Walsh said of the sandwiches. When asked what he though about the company slinging the free bacon burgers in front of the Hub’s command center – also the same spot as the health-forward farmers’ market – he said, “I’m not surprised at all. Ideally they wouldn’t.”

Eric Doyle, of Q’s Nuts, said that while he doesn’t eat fast food, he doesn’t judge people who might line up today for free burgers.

“I don’t think it’s right to tell people what to put in their bodies,” he said. “I eat really healthy, but I smoke cigarettes, so I have no moral high ground to talk about somebody else.”

Son of Baconator by the numbers:

  • 4 strips of bacon
  • Two 2.25-ounce beef patties    
  • 700 calories
  • 390 calories from fat
  • 43 grams of total fat
  • 130 mg of cholesterol
  • 40 grams of carbohydrates
  • 9 grams of sugars


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