9 Offensively Enormous Beverages

These ridiculously oversized sweet drinks provide as many as half a day’s calories and are loaded with sugars. See what you could be eating—instead of guzzling!

By Lauren Gelman
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    Calories from sugary drinks may be particularly harmful to your health.

    New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large sweet drinks is hardly without controversy. But there’s no debating some beverages are way, way, way more calories, sugar, and sometimes fat than we need. Women who drink two or more of them a day were more likely to develop abnormal levels of fasting glucose—a sign of diabetes, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions last year.

    Bloomberg's ban would apply to sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces, but we found many popular chains selling shockingly bigger options. Take a look.

    KFC’s 64-Ounce Pepsi

    The damage:
    780 calories
    217 grams of sugar
    0 grams fat

    This is a whole gallon of fluid, not even close to an individual portion. As a comparison, the American Heart Association recommends adults consume about 6 to 9 teaspoons (the equivalent of just 30 to 45 grams) of added sugar a day.
    Instead, you could eat: It's the caloric equivalent of a KFC Honey BBQ sandwich, a house side salad with ranch dressing, macaroni and cheese, and half an apple turnover.

    7-Eleven’s 44-Ounce Super Big Gulp

    The damage:
    512 calories
    128 grams sugar
    0 grams fat

    We couldn’t help but notice that 7-Eleven describes this as “genetically engineered to quench even the most diabolical thirst.”

    Instead, you could eat: It's the same amount of calories in a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips, a bag of M&Ms, and 24 almonds.

    White Castle’s 44-Ounce Fanta Orange Soda

    The damage:
    470 calories
    147 grams sugar
    0 grams fat

    Instead, you could eat: It's the calorie equivalent of three whole White Castle sliders!

    Smoothie King’s 40-Ounce Acai Adventure

    The damage:
    912 calories
    150 grams sugar
    10 grams fat

    Note the slogan on the side of the cup: "Chewing is over-rated." Well, with such seemingly healthy ingredients as acai and blueberries, this drink's main downfall is sheer size. Even the chain's smallest offering (20 ounces) provides a whopping 456 calories and 75 grams of sugar.

    Instead, you could eat: It's the calorie equivalent of a small Acai Adventure, a bowl of Cheerios with skim milk, a California sushi roll, 8 animal crackers, and a serving of baby carrots with hummus

    Taco Bell’s 40-Ounce Dr. Pepper

    The damage:
    500 calories
    135 grams sugar
    0 grams fat

    Instead, you could eat: At Taco Bell, it's the calorie equivalent of a chicken soft taco and order of cheesy nachos!

    McDonald’s 32-Ounce Sweet Tea

    The damage:
    280 calories
    69 grams sugar
    0 grams fat

    Iced tea is a healthy choice, but the sweetened version packs a lot of sugar, especially in a huge size.

    Instead, you could eat: For the same amount of calories at McDonald's, you could order a whole Caesar salad, four-piece Chicken McNuggets, and any size regular iced tea.

    Wendy’s 29-Ounce Barq’s Root Beer

    The damage:
    360 calories
    99 grams sugar
    0 grams fat

    Instead, you could eat:
    If you opted for a kid-sized root beer instead, you could also get a half-portion of the Berry Almond Chicken Salad.

    Starbucks’ 24-Ounce Chocolate Cookie Crumble Frappuccino® Blended Beverage

    The damage (made with whole milk and whipped cream):
    560 calories
    76 grams sugar
    24 grams fat (15 grams saturated)

    The jumbo size, whole milk, and whipped cream make for a trifecta of gluttony here. Order the 12-ounce size with nonfat milk and no whipped cream, and it's 200 calories, 38 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of fat.

    Instead, you could eat: Get the smaller, healthier version of the drink and you could also get a spinach and feta breakfast wrap and a fruit cup.

    Dairy Queen’s 23-Ounce Arctic Rush Frozen Beverage

    The damage:
    350 calories
    70 grams sugar
    0 grams fat

    A small version of this drink, just 13 ounces, provides 210 calories and 41 grams of sugar.

    Instead, you could eat: A mozzarella string cheese, a cup of strawberries, and two chocolate kisses if you got the smaller Arctic Rush.

    Your Comments

    • CHARLIEM

      IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE IN A GALLON AND A HALF GALLON THEN YOU SHOULD NOT BE PUBLISHING THIS STUFF

    • Taxfan

      Living in the South, a 32 oz or bigger drink, especially unsweet tea, goes down really fast.  The heat and humidity is too much without a big drink.

    • Lydia

      I am very disappointed in Readers Digest.
      I was hoping that you would not get political. 
      Bloomberg’s ban would limit our freedoms.
      We are losing them everyday as it is.
      Sorry to see this in your magazine.

    • Rick

      there are 128 oz in a gallon . Fact check yourself.

    • Guest

      This is so misleading.  That size container is a family size and not an individual size.

    • Guest

      This is so misleading.  That size container is a family size and not an individual size.

    • Anonymous

      More offensive (their term) than a drink that I can; choose to purchase or not purchase; drink over a full day, instantly or not at all, is that they think (Bloomberg, etal) that I need someone to tell me what’s good for me!  Worse, the nebulous “they” have the temerity to tell me what I should eat instead!

    • Les

      64 ounces is a half-gallon, not a gallon

    • Guest

      Not up to the government to tell us what and what not to eat and drink, or how much. They must have stock in soda, because it would force everyone to buy smaller, more expensive drinks, which is why some of us buy the larger sizes. I’ve had a big gulp in my refrigerator for three days, and often use this process

    • Nlm1959

      While I agree a 64 oz Pepsi is way too much that isn’t a gallon. A gallon is 128 oz.

      • Guest

        The writer of this article is just shootin’ bull…her calorie equivalents are random and ridiculous! 

      • Dave

        Glad others are catching this, completely throws off thier credibility.