A katsu sandwich and doughnut sandwich so immense they’re simply called “THE Calorie”.

Japanese convenience store food has become famous around the world for being great quality and even better value, so it’s always worth scouring the shelves for new specials whenever you visit.

That’s what our reporter P.K. Sanjun did the other day, when visiting a branch of Lawson’s discount offshoot chain Lawson Store 100. His quick search of the aisles unveiled a new range that had quietly made its way to store shelves on 29 November, and its impact on the unsuspecting P.K. was so strong it was as if Godzilla had been lying in wait for its prey.

The packaging commanded attention with “THE カロリー” (“THE Calorie”) in big bold graphics, presenting itself as the nemesis of dieters everywhere, with two new products containing over 1,000 kilocalories each.

The “Cabbage Minced Katsu Sandwich‘, or “Cabbage Meat Cutlet Sandwich“, to use its official English name, and the “Choco Doughnut Sandwich” (“Donut Sandwich With Whipped Cream” in English) are the first two items to appear in the chain’s new “THE Calorie” series, and P.K. was powerless to their charms, purchasing one of each to try at home.

The Cabbage Meat Cutlet Sandwich is said to contain 1,332 kilocalories, while the Donut Sandwich With Whipped Cream is surprisingly less calorific, though still no lightweight, packing in 1,199 kilocalories in each serving.

▼ Just these two alone can cover the daily calorie intake required by the average adult male.

P.K. was so intrigued by these monster sandwiches, which seemed as if they were ready to kill anyone who tried them, that he called up Lawson Store 100’s head office to find out more about their origin story.

Speaking to a public relations representative, this is what they had to say:

P.K.: Let me ask you directly, why did you create such monsters?

“Well, it’s certainly ideal to have a well-balanced diet, but in reality it may not always be possible. I think there are many situations where you are short on time and want to efficiently keep up your energy intake.”

P.K.: That’s true.

“THE Calorie was developed as a product that gives you peace of mind by eating it, because with just this set amount, you’ll be fine until your next meal.”

P.K.: I see.

“When our product development staff observed customer behaviour on-site (in stores), we found that the busier the customers, the more likely they were to pick up products that were big in volume.”

P.K. Okay, so now we’ve covered the product’s development, I’m wondering: Was there any opposition to it from within the company?

“There were definitely some questions like, ‘How do we market it?’ However, in the end, we were given the green light to commercialise it.”

P.K.: Incidentally, were you not particular about keeping to Lawson Store’s regular 100-yen price-point for these products? [Many products at Lawson Store 100 are priced around 100 yen]

“Yes, we were faithful to the concept of creating a high-calorie and delicious food so we weren’t particularly conscious of staying within price constraints for this line.”

▼ The Donut Sandwich with Whipped Cream retails for 300 yen (US$2.03), while the Cabbage Meat Cutlet Sandwich is priced at 333 yen.

After his discussion with the PR rep, P.K. realised that these monsters weren’t the enemy, they were actually assistants, helping busy individuals to maintain their energy levels with minimal effort. With this new mindset, he felt a little better about trying them, but first he wanted to weigh them to see what he was really getting himself into.

▼ The Cabbage Meat Cutlet Sandwich weighed 376 grams (13.3 ounces)…

▼ …while the Donut Sandwich With Whipped Cream was considerably lighter, weighing in at 237 grams.

P.K. knows that two apples weigh about 600 grams, so weight-wise, these two sandwiches didn’t seem like much of a big deal. However, he was now curious to find out if all these calories would be easy to eat, or if they would leave him feeling full and bloated.

▼ Starting with the doughnut, P.K. noted that the chocolate would certainly be a major factor in the calorie load here.

Peering inside, there was a good amount of cream sandwiched between the top and bottom layer as well.

However, it was when he cut through the beast that he realised it wasn’t just the chocolate and cream adding to the calories, as the dough itself was much denser than a usual doughnut.

Biting into it, the doughnut had a wonderfully crunchy texture, and the dough had seemed to absorb plenty of oil during the cooking process. Every bite was strangely filling, with a heavier, denser mouthfeel than expected, and while it wasn’t particularly tasty, it wasn’t bad either, and he could feel it was doing a good job of filling his belly.

▼ Moving on to the katsu sandwich, he could sense this would be a snack crammed with calories too.

▼ The bread slices were thick and dense…

▼ …and the inside contained not one but two fried minced cutlets, covered in a load of thick tartar sauce.

▼ How’s this for a katsu sandwich?

Fortunately, this one tasted great — the minced meat cutlet was there in every bite, with the rich tartar sauce tantalising the taste buds, encouraging them to keep going in for more. As he ate his way through the sandwich, he could feel every bit of it sinking deep into his body with a density that was nothing short of astounding.

If you want a fast and simple way to consume calories, these sandwiches will definitely fit the bill. Eating both of them in one sitting with leave you feeling full, but more like a satisfied post-dinner type of fullness, without any noticeable bloating or discomfort.

In terms of cost, 633 yen is pretty good for a meal, but P.K. isn’t sure if he’d be able to eat these regularly without feeling guilty afterwards. Still, as an every-now-and-then snack, these can help you out in a pinch, so as long as you keep your usage in check,  THE Calorie can remain a saviour rather than being a monster out to kill you.

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