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November 13, 2023

Looking at Gizmo cost efficiency


Relationship between calories and cost (in $USD) of Gizmo menu items. All data was collected by using nutrition data from the Bon Appetit menu. (Graphic courtesy of Isaac Hughes)

Relationship between calories and cost (in $USD) of Gizmo menu items. All data was collected by using nutrition data from the Bon Appetit menu. (Graphic courtesy of Isaac Hughes)

I found the cost per calorie of every menu item at the Gizmo. The results may shock you.

Second to only perhaps the Lincoln chair, the Gizmo is the most iconic and essential part of the Knox College. Whether or not you are among the inner cult of Gizmo-goers who have spent hours within its grease stained walls, the campus diner holds a special place in our hearts and stomachs. 

Quite often, students’ favorite Gizmo menu choices are measured not just in salty-oily flavor, but in the ratio of calorie per cost. Some will tell you that the breakfast burrito is the highest value option. For others, it’s the humble beef hot dog. But, who is ultimately correct in this debate? In order to solve this dilemma, I will be using SCIENCE to calculate the precise number of calories that one dollar will get you in the Gizmo.

In order to best analyze this data, it is necessary to first highlight the menu options of lowest calorific value. Among the least calorie-dense options include the malibu burger, marinated chicken breast, onion rings and “eggs your way”. For those seeking sustenance, these items should be avoided at all costs. 

For many, seeing these items on the bottom of the list is not a shock. I mean, it should be no surprise that something with the name “Malibu” in it is the lowest in calories per dollar. Perhaps this menu item would appeal to a beachgoing, surfing type who was more health-conscious than cash-strapped. But in Galesburg, there are no beaches (Lake Storey doesn’t count), and there are certainly no surfers. We Knox students are built of a heartier stock — moral, physical, spiritual — and should see the Malibu burger as a bane to our existence as an institution. But beware of the onion rings as well. While filling, they are nearly as overpriced as the dreaded Malibu burger. 

Next in my exposition of the Gizmo menu, I would like to highlight some notable power-players in the battle for the most calories per dollar. In a Cinderella story like no other, the beef hot dog sits above the crowd pleasing breakfast burrito and mozzarella sticks as the better value choice. 

I know very few people who opt for the hot dog from the Gizmo, but I can imagine their faces in my head right now. With grease lubricated lips, they are smiling from ear to ear, feeling proud that they knew deep in their hearts that there was something remarkable about the Beef Hot Dog. I doubt that the publication of this research will catapult the hot dog to the same level of fame as the breakfast burrito and mozz sticks, but let it be remembered: give the dog a chance. 

Now, it is time to address the elephant in the room with these data. Soaring high above the competition lie two a la carte items that have been silently presiding as the highest value Gizmo items this entire time: whole wheat toast and bacon.

This is a paradigm shifting finding. 

Most Knox students, in an attempt to access the most nutrition for the lowest price, have been seeking meals that surely contain bread and bacon. But in doing so, they have been ignoring the power these two items have when isolated from the riff raff. Don’t waste your precious dining dollars on a Firestarter when you can get four slices of toast and a pile of bacon for the same price, people. Eggs and tots be damned. 

There are moments in statistical research where the data takes the world past a point of no return. Now that these data have been exposed, it can no longer be said that any one sandwich, burger or burrito can top the elemental grandeur of bread and bacon. 

But hold up: as anyone who has taken STAT 200 will know, data can only be understood in context. We all know that the portions of certain menu items undulate on a daily basis. To pit the archetypes of menu items is a fallacious and non-realistic concept. 

Yet, we are stuck with the data that we have been given. Perhaps people will mock this research, onion rings and malibu burgers in hand, and call it an illegitimate defamation of the Gizmo menu. So be it. All I can hope is that my findings motivate people to reconsider the caloric efficiency of their favorite Gizmo items, and the virtues of a triple-decker bacon and toast sandwich.

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