Home > Food > Buffetconomics


I’m in a food kinda mood this week, mostly because I’m BBQing pulled pork this weekend. So to kick things off, I’d like to start off with that which I have a never-ending love/hate relationship with: buffets.

I really am trying to eat healthier these days, as I know my choices will affect the choices my daughters make as well. Not to mention my wife, who is trying to work off her baby weight doesn’t appreciate a buffet. But then I get an advertisement from Old Country buffet for B1G1 and since my kid eats free, I can’t possibly pass that up, can I?

If you’re anything like me, buffets are a very serious matter – often, literally a matter of life and death. No lie: I once left a buffet with meat sweats, my breaths were shallow as taking deep breaths would’ve put too much pressure on my stomach, and I was in no condition to drive. So for such a serious matter, you’re probably wondering what my credentials to be discussing this topic are.

In college, I once ate a dozen Krispy Kreme followed by a 10 piece bucket of KFC, just to balance out the sweetness. I once ate for 2 hours at a churrascaria and then ate nearly half a white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. I can’t nearly put away food like I used to, but I have the clogged arteries as proof that I used to put fear in buffet owners.

Additionally, I’ve done quite a bit of study in the burgeoning field of buffetconomics. To date, I’ve developed three principles that apply to all buffets.

Buffetconomics Principle 1 – law of diminishing returns: each successive plate becomes increasingly vile. For the first plate, you typically think: “This is so good! I can’t believe this is only $xx.xx! I’m going to eat 5 plates!” By plate 5, you’re now thinking:  “Oh. My. God. I hate myself. I’m never going to eat again. I hate food. I’m going to throw up. Someone put me out of my misery. I’m going to have a food baby.”

Buffetconomics Principle 2 – lack of sunk costs: in economics, sunk costs are costs that are incurred that cannot be recovered so they shouldn’t affect your decisions. In buffetconomics, however, the cost of the buffet plays a major role in decision-making, so much so that the diner may no longer act rationally. For you laypeople, this is the “I’m gonna get my money’s worth!!!” principle.

Buffetconomics Principle 3 – law of supply and demand: a) if the customers demand it, the buffet people will supply less of it, such as the vultures that circle the buffet until they bring out the crab legs. b) Conversely, if the customers don’t demand it, the buffet people will never replace it, so who knows how long that dish was sitting there.

Despite the truth behind these principles, I never quite learn never to go back to a buffet. Like an alcohol lover after a particularly bad hangover, I tell myself never again. Seriously. Never again.

Wait a minute…(sorts through mail)…Oh, what do we have here? A coupon from Old Country Buffet.

Update (8.18.10): Thus far, mostly ladies have responded to this post and the consensus is 1) they are all impressed by my superior eating abilities (and I am delusional), 2) I have a problem and 3) buffets are gross and should be avoided like the plague. Except for Indian lunch buffets – those are entirely different. A little help here, gentlemen? I’m not that crazy am I?

Categories: Food Tags: , , , ,
  1. August 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Haha! Love this post! I think the Law of Diminishing Returns works for Popeyes as well: you’re all over your first few pieces, but as you reach the end of the box, you just stare at it and think “I just put all this crap in me?!?”

    • Pop
      August 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      The Buy 11 Get 11 “Free” coupon is going to kill me one of these days. It’s like: Buy 11 pieces of chicken and we’ll give you a heart attack for free!

      • August 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

        I remember having a similar convo with Lester and I pointed out that this deal was something like $14.99 when I took advantage of it when I was younger and thinner. I kid you not, my Saturday routine was so set in stone, they’d actually have my 22 pieces waiting for me, all boxed up, when I arrived.

        Without missing a beat, he immediately replied that it’s $19.99 now!

        Wish they’d get a Bojangles near me. Popeyes is getting crazy expensive nowadays (which is actually probably a good thing for me)!

        • Pop
          August 17, 2010 at 1:26 pm

          It’s for the best. And yeah, I’ve done the AYCE Bojangles thing and the principles DEFINITELY hold.

  2. August 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    I think I finally have my husband cured of buffets. The last time we went to one, I think it was OCB, we sat out in the parking lot and argued over whether or not we should go in. My vote was no, his was yes, so we came to a compromise. We would sit in the parking lot until the next customer emerged from the buffet, and if that person waddled or had a fanny pack most certainly stuffed with contraband leftovers, we didn’t have to go in.

    We waited…

    …and waited…

    And nobody came out. I thought that was telling in and of itself, but because we were starving hubby won and we went in. The food was so far beneath even buffet standards that hubby vowed to never step foot into such a trap again.


    But a coupon for anything is hard to pass up, huh?

    • Pop
      August 17, 2010 at 1:27 pm

      It’s comforting to know my wife and I aren’t the only ones having these serious debates. If you want to win, you should change the requirement to, if a tour bus is in the parking lot or pulls up, we don’t go in.

      Coupon. So. Tempting.

  3. August 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I’m so-so on the buffet idea. I love being able to pay 1 price to try a large assortment of food. A little of this and a little of that. My problem is I have portion control issues. A little of this and that turns into food coma. It can become a big problem.

    • Pop
      August 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm

      Haha. So true. Buffets always seem like a good idea until the itis hits.

      • Veronica
        August 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm

        Ahaha! The itis! That’s actually the only episode of that show I ever watched–can’t even remember the name of the sbow but I still use “The itis to describe the way my hubby acts after a big dinner. He really does go collapse onto the bed and lays there like a stone for hours.

  4. August 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    OH man. I HATE buffets. My husband? LOVES THEM. I? Love organic food. My husband? Couldn’t give less of a crap. And he thinks buffets are God’s gift to man.

    I however, have always won the argument. I have never stepped foot into a buffet with him. Mostly becuase everytime he asks to go? I remind him that little kids sneeze all over the food and put their hands all in it.

    I am a genius!!!:)

    • Pop
      August 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      Huh. I think you may have just won the argument for my wife. She thanks you.

  5. August 17, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Have you seen “The Italian Job?” The new one?

    There’s a scene were one of the guys won’t go into a yard with dogs because, “I had a bad experience.” Friends ask, “What? What happened?” And he replies, “I HAD…A BAD…EXPERIENCE.”

    This is my answer now to buffets. “I HAD…A BAD… EXPERIENCE.”

    Except for the one really good Indian restaurant. I could go there every week.

    Indian food doesn’t count.

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

      You are absolutely correct, Lori. Indian buffets cannot be lumped in the same category as the others. Though, the food coma is just as bad, if not worse.

      And now I’m curious about your bad…experience.

  6. August 17, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Haha!! Hilarious. Your eating skills sound like my hubs. Once, at Outback Steakhouse, he ate a salad, a loaf of bread, a 16 oz prime rib, a pound of crab legs, a baked potato, half a dessert and 2 giant beers.


    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 9:11 am

      I think your husband and I would get along just fine. I guess you and my wife could commiserate and look on in disgust in horror as we chow down.

  7. Veronica
    August 17, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    OMgosh, I feel you. Boy, do I feel you! Seriously it is hard for me to show restraint at a buffet due to Principle #2 and also because it’s just all there and available and why would I pass it up when it’s the same cost no matter how much I eat? Feeling like you’re about to have a food baby is the exact right way to describe it–I have seriously wanted to die after eating at buffets. Thanks for the laugh–love your way with words. Let me know when you publish your first book–I want a signed copy. 🙂 OH, totally off subject, but I did get the Terro stuff after my first baits failed me and within two days, all the ants were dead. Thank you! But now they’ve come back and are eating the baits again. I wonder if this will be never-ending!

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 9:13 am

      Yeah, if you keep the baits out, they’ll come back. I usually just use the stuff until none of ’em ever come back. Typically, I won’t see an ant the next season.

      Haha. Sweet! Now, I have 2 buyers! My wife and you! I don’t even think my mom wants one.

      • Veronica
        August 18, 2010 at 9:37 am

        Bait that brings more ants if you leave it out? That is some powerful stuff! Thanks for the tip.

  8. Veronica
    August 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    P.S. I am a serious over-eater but even I was amazed at your eating skillz. I’m surprised you were never seriously obese. I have eaten a dozen Krispy Kremes but it took me all day. And I’ve eaten a whole large pizza by myself but I don’t think I ate again for a month–LOL!

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 9:14 am

      haha! Yeah, I worked out a lot back in college but still managed to put on my freshman 15 in a semester. What can I say? I’m an overachiever.

  9. August 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    This sounds very familiar…I think you and my hubby would get along just fine!!

    Could we still be friends if I told you that I don’t like buffets? They kinda gross me out? Thinking about all those random people with their dirty hands and sneezes and talking…ugh! But we can still be friends, right?

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 9:14 am

      We can still be friends. We just can’t go to buffets together. You and my wife can hang out while your husband and I go visit the buffet.

  10. August 18, 2010 at 2:33 am

    There should definitely be a “buffets anonymous” for men. Every time my husband talks about “quitting the buffet” it sounds like I should prepare for weekly visits in a place that strip searches you before entry.

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 9:15 am

      LOL! I think you’re right. I’m trying really hard to avoid them but it’s like they know me and keep sending me coupons and reminding me that kids eat free!

  11. August 18, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Hmm, I hate to say it, but I think you may have a problem… 😉
    At least tell me you’re not going to eat anything between now and your BBQ this weekend!

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 9:15 am

      LOL! I probably won’t eat for a while after the BBQ, that’s for sure!

  12. August 18, 2010 at 7:53 am

    I’ll bet when you were finished at the KFC you could’ve built a dinosaur with those bones!

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 9:16 am

      Yup! I tried to donate 3 whole chicken fossils to our local museum but they wouldn’t take them. Ingrates.

  13. August 18, 2010 at 9:37 am

    This was hilarious to me, great post! I can’t really side with you too much though on this. I have no control whatsoever at a buffet so I overeat and usually feel like crap afterwards. However, the Indian buffet rocks and is really the only buffet I still enjoy.

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

      I could eat Indian lunch buffets every day. I’d likely die an early death, but it would be a sweet, buttery chicken on naan death.

  14. August 18, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I only did on one type of buffet – breakfast. There are no diminishing returns when it comes to a breakfast buffet. You just must learn the art of restraint and pacing oneself. Having your commuter with wifi beside you while you work and devour pancakes, french toast, waffles, eggs, bacon, grits, hasbrowns, fruit, toast, danishes helps too.

    We should do a buffet tour of the DC and surrounding areas.

    • Pop
      August 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

      Oooo! Breakfast buffets!

      That sounds awesome! Though I highly suggest we schedule a run for the following weekend.

  15. August 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Haha! I think it’s a crime not to get your moneys worth at a buffet. Don’t you know kids are starving in Africa? So let’s EAT! Lol.

    • Pop
      August 19, 2010 at 9:24 am

      LOL! So true!

  16. Pooh
    August 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Just got back from the lobster buffet, only killed 7. Getting old 😦

    • Pop
      August 19, 2010 at 9:25 am

      7? We need to hit up Fogo De Chao and redeem ourselves.

  17. August 18, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    My first visit on your site. You had me at buffet. My husband is a big wuss and usually only has two plates. He’s had to sit there and watch me go in for the kill again many a time.

    • Pop
      August 19, 2010 at 9:26 am

      lol. I know a couple ladies in my life who are the same. And they’re all impossibly skinny.

  1. September 1, 2010 at 11:34 am

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