We Sent a Disney Cupcake to the Lab

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Let’s start off by saying that we’re firm believers that calories do not count when on vacation. As a result, this article is more in the category of “isn’t that interesting” instead of “drop that cupcake”.

As a rule, Disney doesn’t share nutritional information about their foods, aside from prepackaged foods that are bound by government regulations. Disney does do a good job when it comes to allergies, but if you’re looking for Calorie content, sodium levels, net carbs, or other items of that nature, you’re out of luck.

To get to the bottom of one of the bits of nutritional information that everyone wants to know but doesn’t want to know, we decided to send a Disney cupcake to Deibel Laboratories to find out just how many calories are in a typical Disney cupcake.

The cupcake we chose was the Kylo Ren cupcake from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. No particular reason for this choice aside from the idea of Kylo Ren meeting a fiery doom was amusing, perhaps. The Kylo Ren cupcake is a chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter whipped frosting, chocolate rocks, and a chocolate topper. Yummy.

It is worth noting that different cupcakes with different contents, different fillings, different amounts of frosting, and different decorations will yield different results. In fact, the exact same type of cupcake will have a variation based on how heavy-handed the frosting application method was or how much batter was put into the tin for a cupcake. With those disclaimers in mind, here’s the official lab results.

And, at first, a cheer was heard in the land–425.39 Calories! It’s a miracle! Unfortunately, that’s not the full story (or the full Calorie count).

In order to have standardization, the unit measure is important to note. While packaged foods state Calorie counts based on serving size for your convenience, from a scientific standpoint, Calories are normed to make it easy to compare Calorie counts between items of different size and weight. (It is also worth noting that in years past, companies would play games with serving size to make their products seem lower in Calories than they really are. A good example would be a 20 oz. bottle of soda. To most people, a serving size would be one bottle, but Calorie counts in the past were based on a serving size of 12 fl. oz., or 3/5 a bottle.) As a result, the result listed above isn’t for one cupcake (which is what most people would think of as a serving size for a cupcake), but for 100 grams of Kylo Ren cupcake.

How much does a Kylo Ren cupcake weight? Thankfully, our food scale-toting researcher Christina has that answer. A typical Kylo Ren cupcake weights 8.9 oz. or about 252 grams. Doing the math, that means our dear cupcake actually comes in at approximately 1,072 Calories. To paraphrase Luke Skywalker, If there’s a health food center in the Disney universe, this cupcake is on the planet that it’s farthest from.

If you decide to eat a cupcake like this on your vacation, what would you need to do to make sure that cupcake doesn’t come back with you as a bit of unwanted vacation souvenir pudge? To make it simple, a 180-pound person burns approximately 100 Calories per mile walked. On an average Disney day, it is entirely possible to walk 10 miles and burn off most of that cupcake. In other words, as long as you are mindful of what else you’re eating during the day, that cupcake isn’t going to wreck the diet of the average person. That said, doing a cupcake crawl, or having cupcakes with every meal, might not be the best idea if you’re trying to stay somewhat healthy on vacation.

Back in 2017, we ran a poll here at TouringPlans asking if Disney should post Calorie counts, and the majority of you said that they should. Whether having these Calorie counts posted would change people’s cupcake consumption is debatable. It is vacation, after all. But having this kind of information would prove useful to the consumer who might decide to split a cupcake at lunch to feel okay snagging a churro after dinner. In this way, you could have your cake and eat it too.

*For those who want to geek out about how a food calorimeter works, you can check out this video.

**If you’re curious how the government divides up how a serving size would be labeled, you can read the regulations here.

***Want to really impress your friends? Calorie counts (with a capital C, which is what is standard for the labeling of foods) are actually kilocalories, or 1,000 calories. That means that cupcake contains a whopping 1,072,000 calories. Suddenly that 1,072 Calorie count doesn’t seem quite so bad, does it?

Got any other “burning” questions about Disney food, Calorie counts, or other things that we could test in a lab? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited nine-year-old daughter.

10 thoughts on “We Sent a Disney Cupcake to the Lab

  • July 9, 2019 at 11:20 am
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    Good info to use as a data point even if only a single data point. Thanks!!

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  • July 9, 2019 at 3:32 pm
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    Those on special diets for medical needs can have a hard time at Disney Parks. As was stated in the article, they don’t provide sodium counts, and at best they’ll “not add extra salt” when you ask.
    Anyone on a sodium restrictive diet will know that that added salt is usually not the really “bad” part. Sauces, breads, etc can contain days worth of “hidden” sodium in just one serving. Something that “tastes” salty is not always high in sodium (and vice-versa). In fact most “healthy choices” on the menu are usually making up for being “healthy” with added sodium and dressings.

    Last time I was at Disneyland, my party was at Blue Bayou, and the cast members were unable to accommodate a low sodium meal (they can accommodate many allergies, but not low sodium or other similar restrictions, and couldn’t think of anything “not salty”). I ended up having to leave my family, exit the park, walk across Harbor, and go to McDonalds (of all places) which publishes and has several low sodium options.

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    • July 10, 2019 at 11:43 pm
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      Salads and fruits and veggies are very low sodium and are offered at almost every table service location. I’m on a low sodium diet and I never EVER go to McDonalds because my doctor said that even though they offer “lower sodium” options, they’re still extremely high in bad fats and sodium. You could order a steak sans seasoning or a chicken breast sans seasoning. Any of these options would be available. I’ve gotten a baked potato sans salt. I’ve ordered many things on Disney property that are low sodium. Please take a closer look! I’m sure you’d be surprised. Perhaps you’re just a picky eater. Disney definitely caters to many diets.

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      • July 16, 2019 at 1:34 pm
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        So what you are saying is that you rather be “blind” and think you are eating healthy than having the data to work around your diet. You’ll be amazed at how many vegetables served are loaded with sodium, same with many Salads (even without dressing), and even meats and chicken. IE: I can get a “Natural Organic Boneless Chicken Breast” at a local store that has 600mg(!) of sodium in it, or I can get another brand that’s only 55mg . The popular “Beyond Meat” burger has 10 *TIMES* the sodium in a hamburger patty (And similar fat content BTW, around 20g). What is marketed as healthy, isn’t always, and even basics of what you think is healthy, might not be. (IE: I’ll have a salad with some grilled chicken on it, and no dressing, and as I pointed up above, it could be a great low-sodium/fat high protein meal, or a sodium bomb based on what lies in that chicken…)

        McDonalds (and many others) give out nutrition data, most items you should stay far, far away, from but McDonalds for instance has several low sodium and low fat options, and you are able to choose it as they provide the data. Do I eat at McDonalds everyday? no, but it’s an example of how providing the data allows people on specific diets to be able to work around it in a bind. Disney should provide this data, they have the means with their apps to do so, but my guess is they’re afraid that many people will discover that (like many restaurants) that their “fresh” food is made up from processed food, which contains a ton of salt, fat, and sugars.

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  • July 9, 2019 at 7:55 pm
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    Thank you for this! I used to be firmly in the camp against posting calorie counts on menu boards, but since this is now government mandated in Canada (or just Ontario; not sure which), I’ve come to really like it as I track my calories now. It makes a lot of sense why things have changed so much for my partner and I since we stopped eating full entrees and snacks at Disney to ourselves and started sharing almost everything. No regrets (and a *lot* of money saved)!

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  • July 10, 2019 at 10:07 am
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    Very interesting. Thanks.

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  • July 13, 2019 at 8:19 am
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    I’m so glad you did this. While I do think indulging is just part of vacation, and life in general, I don’t think ignorance is bliss. I wouldn’t have guessed the calories for this were that high. I always weigh my choices differently when I’m able to see the calorie counts upfront. Sometimes the numbers just don’t align like they would if I were to guess, so it really helps those who already try to make “good” choices on a more consistent basis. I really wish all places would do this. Or at least have it available somewhere for those who want to know.

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  • July 16, 2019 at 5:25 am
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    Carb count is just as important as calories. Do we know that? 😉

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    • July 16, 2019 at 8:56 am
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      I’m not a mathematician nor a nutritionalist, so if someone wants to check my math and procedure, I’m all for it and will readily admit I could be off on this. But here’s what I’m getting.

      So if combined fat, protein, and moisture = ~47%, then the remaining 53% would be carbs (and itty bitty things like vitamins and minerals that wouldn’t sway the numbers much, so we’ll ignore those here).

      Taking 252 g x 0.53 = ~134 g of carbs.

      That has a “makes sense” amount, based on a Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcake from Wegmans, which for a serving size of 140 g has total carbs of 76 g. (So a 280 g serving would have 152 g of carbs for that one.)
      https://www.wegmans.com/content/dam/wegmans/pdf/nutrition/bakery/cupcakes-wegmans-nutrition-facts.pdf

      Reply
  • July 16, 2019 at 4:24 pm
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    Other things you could measure are lumens around the park. I think you’ve done decibels. It’d be fun to see one of those seismology raspberry pi on like star tours – your Richter scale of jerkiness. Honestly the times of day when you couldn’t not hear someone crying was gold level data. fireworks angle of view would be a friggin amazing GIS overlay. Take into account the largest and most likely wide angle of the show then map that to different locations. Do the same thing you do with the pics of hotel rooms -crowdsurf for photos at locations of fireworks but plotted.

    Reply

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