{Dining Out} Cracker Barrel

by Leighann on January 6, 2012

Q and I have a tradition that actually started at her diagnosis. Every evening during the long drive back home from the endocrinologist, we stop at Denny’s and have breakfast for dinner.

It’s so entrenched in our routine that I actually have mentioned it several times in Kids First, Diabetes Second.

We recently switched to a different endocrinology practice that is a little closer to home, but still an hour and a half away. When we hit the highway after our most recent visit, Q asked if we could stop at Denny’s. I don’t know that they have a location on our new route and I need to look it up before our next visit.

So there is a moderately sized town about halfway home and I pulled off at the exit with the most restaurants. I named some choices and we decided on Cracker Barrel.

Cracker Barrel

Image from CrackerBarrel.com

As we ordered our dinner I asked the waitress, who we would learn was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, if she could bring us the nutritional info. I like to look at it before the meal comes so that I can eat and not let my food get cold while I’m looking up carbs or trying to research it on my phone. After we had our meals, she brought us a paper and said it only had the allergy info.

The waitress said she thought Cracker Barrel is very “diabetic friendly” which made me chuckle to myself. (It’s a lot of high carb fried food, biscuits, apple butter, etc.) She said Q’s fried shrimp was just under 2 carbs because of the breading and hush puppy, and that the fried apples were 2 carbs.

I asked if she meant two carbs or two carb exchanges. She said “carbs.” This was clearly not right. I could see it being two exchanges. An exchange is about 15 carbs.

So I used my phone to go to Cracker Barrel’s website. They are a national chain and should have the info on their site, right?

Uh, no.

In fact this is what they say deeply buried on an FAQ page:

Here at Cracker Barrel, we pride ourselves on using recipes and ingredients that are genuine and of the highest quality available. We strive to prepare and present these food items to you in a way that upholds those authentic traditions of days gone by.

Cracker Barrel certainly understands the health-conscious concerns that some of our guests have. While we are currently unable to provide exact calorie or fat content information for our entire menu, the following choices may help you in your selection. You can get very specific nutritional information on some select dishes at both weightwatchers.com and healthydiningfinder.com

(And they didn’t link to those two sites, either.)

“Health-conscious”? No, my child needs insulin based on the number of carbs she consumes to live! It’s not a matter of watching her (tiny) waist line.

Even if their portion sizes or recipes vary slightly by location, I would have liked an estimate to go off of.

So I tried CalorieKing and a couple of internet searches and didn’t have much luck. I’m doing all of this while trying to have a hot meal and I’m sure the other diners all thought I was rude for typing away on my phone instead of interacting with my daughter…another reason why I like to see it before the meal comes!

I had pre-bolused for 30 carbs, actually while demonstrating to the waitress how insulin pumps work. I followed up with another 30 carbs as an estimation, having no experience with Cracker Barrel’s menu.

Q started the meal with a perfect blood sugar of 125. An hour after her Cracker Barrel meal, her blood sugar eclipsed 300!

It took several boluses and multiple overnight blood sugar checks to get her below 200.

I want to know how a national restaurant chain thinks it’s at all acceptable NOT to provide nutritional information for its guests.

Guess what restaurant won’t become our new routine.

Further Reading

More posts about food

All Things Food (carb counts)

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rachel January 6, 2012 at 8:18 am

I’m constantly shocked by the lack of nutrition information available from restaurants. If I had food allergies or ate kosher instead of having diabetes it would be easier! It’s amazing that so many restaurants also don’t seem to understand that there’s a difference between nutrition information and allergy information.

I do think that it’s awesome how much you and your daughter seem to be teaching people!

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2 Naomi January 6, 2012 at 8:24 am

I always find it bothersome when restaurants don’t provide information like this – what are they hiding? We already KNOW your food won’t be the healthiest thing in the world. How can the USDA approve of this without letting the customers know exactly whats in it?

In NYC, about 2/3 yrs ago a new rule came that said all chain restaurants and food services have to provide calorie counts and therefore, more of them provide all nutritional facts. That’s helped a lot when it comes to staying at friends and visiting the city for a day/night; but I’d love this rule to expand to non-chains and not just NYC/New York areas.

I’ve only been to Cracker Barrel once, about a month ago, and happened to order something I know the estimation of carbs for, but its ridiculous that with diabetes being one of the top diagnosis’ in this country, some places STILL won’t provide this essential information.

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3 jenni@talkinghairdryer January 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

Cracker Barrel is always an experience. Our experiences, at several different locations, have included slow service, tables too small for our family of 5 (because each order comes with like 12 plates), and kitchens that take an hour to get our food on the table. It’s not my favorite place to eat…and NOT diabetic friendly.

I guess I was under the impression that there was some sort of law that restaurants had to provide nutritional information on their websites? Could it just be a Texas state law? Maybe it’s just fast-food places? Maybe I’m just completely confused and dreamed it all up?

And also, it’s one of my pet peeves when I ask for nutritional information and get information that is either geared towards someone dieting, the allergy information, or doesn’t even include the kids’ meal options, because why in the world would someone need nutritional information for KIDS meals?!

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4 Nicole Duckworth January 6, 2012 at 8:42 am

Thanks for the info about Cracker Barrell…good to know this before going there because I always like the info beforehand as well. I can’t believe they don’t provide the info! I thought it was now required. I wonder how this waitress manages her type 1 diabetes thinking those 2 food items are only 2 carbs each! Hope you find another Denny’s on your route.

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5 Amanda January 6, 2012 at 9:54 am

I think the requirement to provide nutrional info is a state by state law. I personally love the food at Cracker Barrel and the service at the one in Flagstaff is pretty good, however I think we ate there once since Kortnie’s diagnosis. I too was unimpressed by their lack of info in the restaurant and online and that was back before I had a smart phone. However, I do have a smart phone now and have an app on my phone called Restaurant Nutrition by Unified Lifestyle and it lists Nutrional Info for tons of restaurant chains, I just looked and Cracker Barrel is on it, but it doesn’t look like a full menu. Anyways, the point of my comment was to tell you about the app, it has every chain store I’ve ever come across and some that I haven’t even heard of. A great app and very easy to navigate in my opinion.

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6 Heather Fisher January 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

So how do we bring this to the attention of Cracker Barrel? I know it’s not the front-line staffs’ responsibility or authority to print up the nutritional information–so being irritated at them (the messengers) just really screws up everyone’s dining experience. I’m not saying you did–at all… but CB is a staple restaurant for us, here in the south, and it’s a favorite of my (T2 diabetic rich) family. As a T1, when we went there Christmas Eve morning for breakfast I literally had given no prior thought as to what I would order. Ugh. Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast, Biscuits, Grits, Hashbrowns, Sawmill Gravy—um, shall I go on? The only other thing was sausage (or turkey sausage) and eggs. Ugh, again!

I’d decided on a french toast breakfast with eggs and turkey sausage and sugar free syrup. It arrived with FOUR pieces of toast, two pieces of sausage and two scrambled eggs. I wasn’t feeling eggs and my 11 year old wanted them wanted pancakes too (and I didn’t want to pay nine prices for all that!). So I took one bite of egg and gave him the rest, took two pieces of french toast off my plate and tried, unsuccesfully, to give them away…I guess everyone else loaded up on biscuits and gravy before their pancakes, hashbrowns and grits made it to the table. I ate 1 & 1/2 pieces of the sausage and gave my growing boy the other half.

Needless to say, I IO’d (Insulin Overdosed) and ended up trying to correct several times in the early & mid-afternoon.

So, I’m with you on trying to make nutritional data (even a rough estimate) available–just let me know where to sign or campaign!!!

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7 Lisa Abolt January 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

I have experienced the same situation with a few restaurants and am always frustrated that chains can get away with not providing complete nutritional information. I’ve been told by a few restaurant manager’s that chains are only required to provide this information if they have over a certain number of locations.
Either way it’s reassuring to know we aren’t alone in our frustration and we too will be avoiding Cracker Barrel!

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8 Bennet January 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

Breakfast for Dinner is the best.

Bummer about the nutrition info. If I were a cynic I would think they have something to hide. In situations like this I say SWAG and correct.

All the best

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9 Jessica P January 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Thanks for posting on this, and I appreciate the app. info on restaurants from Amanda. I’m going to look into that! Thanks!

Take care everyone. 🙂

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10 Lawren Romero January 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm

It really bothers me when you cannot find nutritional info! I’m also now concerned about the waitress mentioned in this post!

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11 Leighann January 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

She must have meant two carb exchanges and not two actual carbs. Two exchanges would have made sense.

I find using exchanges to be an archaic method and not very accurate…though anything would have been more accurate than my unsuccessful guess!

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12 Patricia January 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I am not a diabetic nor do I have a child that is diabetic. With that said I posted a blog on sparkpeople.com about Cracker Barrel back in June 2011 which reads very much the same way Leeann’s blog reads. The waitress couldn’t provide me with any nutritional info and when I sent CB an email the following Monday they sent one back to me saying that their cooking is all ‘homemade’ and there’s too many variables in the recipes to put caloric counts/content on the menus. I couldn’t find any info on line about them as well – sent another email asking them what they were hiding and got a response from them saying – “it would take too much calculating to figure out the calories” in their food. I sent them another email asking if they didn’t possess any calculators in their organization?? Never heard back from them and won’t eat there anymore.

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13 Sara January 9, 2012 at 8:59 pm

This makes me think of a story about asking for nutritional information that happened to me at a fast food chain shortly after my diagnosis. I can’t remember if I blogged about it, but now I’m inspired to go look! LOL!

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14 Nanci July 28, 2015 at 5:31 pm

I’m with you; I definitely had to raise an eyebrow at the manager when she offered me nothing but a calorie count this morning at Cracker Barrel. It is insane that a national chain does not offer a carb count. I have a type 1, 7 year old and all I could find was a fatsecret.com carb count on 58 of their dishes, which only included two items she consumed. As you stated, it isn’t like we are watching their waistline. This is a real health concern. I was even more boggled when the manager asked if I was worried about carbs turning to fatty acids. I had to explain how they broke down to glucose and had to be matched with the insulin. =\

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