Friday, October 29, 2010

And Now, a Word from John Tiedt

John Tiedt, attorney for the plaintiffs in the Kimkins case, issued a statement of findings, along with thanks, to all those whose efforts led to our victory.
To all Ducks

Today, October 29, 2010, Judge Rick Brown of the Riverside County Superior Court entered a verdict for the plaintiffs in a certified national class action lawsuit. The court entered a verdict against Heidi Diaz the owner of the diet website for fraud and false advertising. The court awarded the class members restitution in the amount of $1,824,210.39. The court also awarded an additional $500,000 in punitive damages as well as attorney fees. The court then issued a temporary restraining order to freeze all of the assets of Ms. Diaz.

Most notably, the court also imposed an injunction requiring Heidi Diaz to post on all of her websites that: (1) she lied about her weight loss; (2) she lied about her after diet pictures; (3) she lied about testimonials on her website; and (4) she lied about the photographs used with the testimonials to promote the Kimkins website.

An injunction was also issued to prevent Heidi Diaz from contacting, harassing or cyberbullying the plaintiffs and the witnesses. A formal judgment will be entered before November 19, 2010.

The original complaint was filed over three years ago on October 15, 2007. I want to thank everyone who supported the class action lawsuit. The Ducks were wonderful. I met a lot of great people and made a lot of new friends fighting for a good cause. Heidi Diaz lied on her website and made the fatal mistake of lying in the courtroom. You cannot trust Heidi Diaz. I anticipate more legal (illegal) maneuvering by Heidi Diaz to evade the judgment. We will be prepared and I will be relentless. Again, I thank all you.

John E. Tiedt

Indeed, John, we know you WILL be relentless! You are our champion!

Note: 'Ducks' are those who worked together to find out the truth in the Kimkins matter, to pierce the "fake nice" facade and expose the many lies of Heidi Diaz, to dig up and document evidence against her, and to warn people through various online and media sources about the dangers of believing Diaz or following her dangerous advice.

The term derives from the name of an early anti-Kimkins blogger (or team of bloggers) who posted under the name "Just Ducky." As the Kimkins controversy grew, the "Just Ducky" blog became a locus to which various sources would feed undercover information for immediate and wide distribution. It also became a significant thorn in the side of Heidi Diaz, for it seemed she could scarcely whisper a lie or concoct a scheme in her most private lair which would not soon be shouted from the virtual housetops. As Diaz' animosity and paranoia about Ducky's secret identity grew, she began to suspect almost everyone of being Ducky. Before long, she was banning paid "lifetime" members on mere suspicions of being Ducky, consorting with Ducky, or being a Ducky sympathizer. Most famously, she banned a Kimkins member merely for using a stock yellow-rubber-ducky avatar supplied by the Kimkins site itself. In a show of solidarity, many people began using duck avatars and adopted the label proudly, and soon a whole culture developed around the inside joke.

The Ducks were a diverse group, not always unified and not always on the right track. Whatever else they might have been, though, one thing is certain --- the Ducks were determined! Heidi Diaz thought the Ducks would lose interest, give up, shut up, and move on. Wrong! Most Ducks quit quacking after a while, but, as Ms. Diaz has discovered, they were still busily paddling under the surface.

To all those who were manipulated and deceived, belittled and berated, used and abused, endangered and victimized, conned and defrauded by Heidi Diaz, this finding of the court and this expression of thanks from John Tiedt serve as a measure of vindication. Let honor be given where honor is due.

More Details

Authorized short report from the scene by my friend Sandy:

The Court found in favor of the plaintiffs on all points.

We have a judgement based on fraud for $1.8 Million.

We have punitive damages for $500,000

We have injunctive relief, which includes she can not further lie to promote her diet. She can not use fake photos, success stories or testimonials to promote her diet.

While we won't see a court ordered 404 message we got something even better.

Heidi must put a notice on ANY website she starts for any purpose, diet or otherwise, that explains that she lied, used fake success stories and testimonials, that she mislead, that she used deceptive practices. She is going to have to post a notice that explains that low calorie diets can be dangerous, with a list of possible adverse side effects (the wording of the notice is to be worked out between the lawyers and the judge). There is NO expiration of these notices.

The Judge included a PERMANENT restraining order wherein Heidi (or any of her socks) are prohibited against contacting in ANY form with any/all class members, class plaintiffs, lawyers, their families, their staffs (which includes me, Laura) for the rest of our lives.

Oh, all of her assets have been frozen until the judgement is entered and served.

This may be appealed, of course, but today, WE WON!!!!!

Note: Sandy and Laura (also mentioned above) are two anti-Kimkins crusaders who got involved and ended up working officially with attorney John Tiedt in the preparation of this case.

ETA: Sandy has posted the statement here


The judge handed down the ruling in the Kimkins case class action lawsuit.

Justice prevails!

Details to follow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kimkins Class Action Official Legal Notice





1. On May 20, 2009, the Riverside County Superior Court, located in Riverside, California, issued an order certifying this case to proceed as a class action.

2. The plaintiffs are six individuals who bought memberships to through the Website ( from January 1, 2006 to October 15, 2007. The defendants are Heidi Diaz, an individual, and Kimkins (also known as, a business entity that conducts business in Corona, California.

3. The plaintiffs contend that Diaz and induced them into buying memberships for through false and misleading information provided on the Web site. The plaintiffs contend that the defendants violated California Business & Professions Code § 17200, et seq., which authorizes courts to provide relief from unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business practices. The plaintiffs also contend that Diaz and violated common law prohibitions against fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

4. This notice provides you with information regarding the litigation, including the plaintiffs’ claims against the defendants and the current status of the litigation. This notice also provides you with information regarding the court’s class-certification order.


The Plaintiffs’ Claims

5. This lawsuit is based on the plaintiffs’ claims that Diaz and Kimkins used unfair, unlawful, or fraudulent business practices to induce them into buying memberships to This lawsuit is also based on the plaintiffs’ claims that the false and misleading information contained on the Web site constituted fraud or negligent misrepresentation by Diaz and Kimkins.

6. Here’s a list of the kinds of misconduct that the plaintiffs have alleged:

• that Diaz and Kimkins concocted a false persona, “Kim Drake” or “Kimmer” to sell memberships to
• that Diaz and Kimkins misled potential members into believing that “Kim Drake” was real by using photos of real women and then falsely claiming that the photos depicted “Drake”
• that Diaz and Kimkins posted lied about “Drake’s” purported weight loss
• that Diaz and Kimkins provided false or misleading information to Women’s World magazine
• that Diaz and Kimkins fabricated 41 “success stories” and published on the Web
• that Diaz and Kimkins made up celebrity endorsements
• that Diaz and Kimkins misused labels and metatags to steer Internet traffic to the Website, in violation of the law
• that Diaz and Kimkins misled potential members into believing that they were buying lifetime memberships, when in fact Diaz and terminated memberships at their whim
• that Diaz and Kimkins intended to mislead potential members and assumed that potential members would rely on her misrepresentations.

The Defendants’ Position

7. Diaz and Kimkins have denied all allegations of wrongdoing and liability, and they continue to deny that they have done anything wrong. Diaz and Kimkins also have asserted various affirmative defenses to the plaintiffs’ claims.


8. In an order filed May 20, 2009, the Court granted the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification. The Court certified for class treatment the plaintiffs’ claims for equitable relief, including disgorgement of the subscription fees paid to Diaz and Kimkins by the plaintiffs and the members of the class.

9. The certified class is defined as all individuals who purchased the diet membership on-line from the Web site from January 1, 2006 through October 15, 2007.


10. The Court ordered that this notice be provided to advise class members that this case is pending and that the Court has certified the case to proceed as a class action. You should not consider this notice or its mailing to be a statement by the Court that the plaintiffs are right or that their claims will prevail.


11. You do not need to do anything to remain a member of the class. If you bought a diet membership on-line from the Web site from January 1, 2006 through October 15, 2007—including either of those dates—you are automatically included in the class. Your rights will be represented by the plaintiffs and their attorneys. You will not be personally responsible for any attorney fees or for the any of the costs of this litigation.


12. You have the opportunity to opt out of the class action lawsuit as detailed herein. If you incurred a personal injury as a result of using the aka Kimkins Diet, you have a right to opt out. Notices to opt must be sent to or mailed to Tiedt & Hurd at 980 Montecito Drive, Suite 209, Corona, California 92879.


13. This notice provides only a brief summary of this litigation. For further details, you should take one or both of the following steps:

• Review the documents in the Court’s file for this lawsuit. Many of these documents may be viewed or obtained on-line at the following URL: . You also may review the Court’s file in person by going to the Office of the Clerk of the Court for the Riverside Superior Court, during regular business hours. The Clerk’s office is located at 4050 Main Street, Riverside, California 92501.

• Write a letter to the attorneys who are representing the plaintiffs and whom the Court has appointed to represent the class. Here are their names and their contact information:

John E. Tiedt & Marc S. Hurd
Tiedt & Hurd
980 Montecito Drive, Suite 209
Corona, California 92879

Michael L. Cohen
Michael L. Cohen, a PLC
707 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 4100
Los Angeles, California 90017

Ray Moore
Moore Winter McLennan LLP
701 N. Brand Blvd., Suite 200
Glendale, California 92103-4232

If you decide to contact one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, please do so in writing. To make it easier for them or one of their staff members to respond, however, your letter should include both your e-mail address and your telephone number.

There are estimated to be as many as 40,000 members in the class. So please, DO NOT CALL THE COURT OR ATTEMPT TO CONTACT THE COURT BY E-MAIL.

DATE: ___________________________, 2009

Hon. _________________________,
Presiding Judge

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Third Time's a Charm?

I am getting a little peeved that SOMEONE has tried to hack my old abandoned weight loss blog 3 times now in the past 8 days.

In most circumstances, I admire determination and persistence. For example, if someone actually intended to lose weight instead of "FAUX Dieting", then persistence would be an excellent commodity.

I guess that when it comes to scheming and conniving, some people really just don't know when (or how) to quit.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Putting Kimkins on Notice

Kimkins - Proposed Notice of Pendency of Class Action

Regarding the Kimkins Class Action Lawsuit: This is NOT an official notice. This notice is proposed to the court by plaintiffs’ counsel June 26, 2009. If you choose to duplicate this notice on any blog or website, this notice MUST be included.

(Many thanks to Prudentia for originally posting this. I don't know how to make the document images bigger, so you can read the full content on Prudentia's blog here.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hacking Attempt?

The hits just keep on comin', folks! That's right, someone has made ANOTHER attempt to hijack my other abandoned blog. That is the third try in a little over a week.

Desperate much?

It has been a week since the previous hacking attempt. I just got notification from WordPress that a second attempt by someone else seeking to take over my blog was made today. That is a lot of interest in a 2-and-a-half year old blog with only 3 posts.

-----------------original post-----------------

OK, sometimes coincidences are just coincidences. Sometimes, they are more. Which is which?

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I started a WordPress blog to chronicle and hold me accountable for my weight loss. Pretty good idea --- except I couldn't figure out all the ins and out of WordPress at the time and eventually forgot my password. When I decided to renew blogging, it was easier to start all over here on Blogger than to retrace my steps on a barely-begun blog.

Two and a half years passed. I almost forgot I ever had another blog attempt. Then I just now got this email from WordPress (and yes, it is legit --- I checked that already).

Someone has asked to reset the password for the following site and username.

Username: xxxxxx (redacted)

To reset your password visit the following address, otherwise just ignore this email and nothing will happen.

What is up with that? It's not like it was ever a big deal blog. I think I had maybe 3 entries in all, and hardly ever any views. Why would someone want to hijack it?

Who would do that? Anyone have any ideas?

I do.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Quick Summary of the Kimkins Debacle

A 'real life' friend found this blog via a post made elsewhere and left a comment on my previous blog post, knowing nothing of the Kimkins lawsuit. Oh, my --- where to even BEGIN to describe everything that has happened in that strange sage over the last few years?! I attempted to give her a quick rundown within the limits of the 4,096 characters that Blogger allows in a comment. In case other people ask the same in future, I decided to copy my response into its own post. This is that attempt:

As for catching up on the lawsuit: Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

An obese but clever sociopathic narcissist gained footage at a popular established low carb diet site, where she claimed to have lost 198 lbs. in a year and to have maintained for 5 years. Her drastic claims and caustic passive-aggressive personality sparked flame wars which ultimately provided excuse to stomp off and open a paid membership site with impressive success stories and before/after photos.

All seemed wonderful at first. People were happy and losing weight. In June, 2007, a magazine featured the diet, 40,000 people joined, and the owner made a million+ dollars in a month. But to validate her marketing claims of "No faster weight loss, none" she pushed lower and lower calories, fasting, and even daily laxative use. People began having problems, for which she ALWAYS had an explanation (usually with a little dig at the complainant.) The gloss began to wear off and the spell was broken.

People questioned things, including photos. When her responses were unsatisfactory, some of us left. Things blew up completely when, about a month later, she was photographed at 300+ lbs, with NO resemblance to her supposed 'after' photos. The site boiled with protest and she summarily banned any "lifetime" members who dared to speak up.

Various online sites and personalities got involved in internet battles. Her supporters wanted to cling to their addictively fast weight loss and the site that enabled it, though many switched sides as evidence emerged.
Her detractors/victims felt used and abused, crushed, betrayed, defrauded, and outraged.

A fiesty woman named Jeanessa stepped up and found a brilliant health-crusading attorney named John Tiedt, who believed in the case enough to take it on contingency.

Discoveries were made which revealed that Heidi Diaz lived in a labyrinthian world of her own making, a convoluted web of deviousness and deception. She never lost any significant amount of weight, even with gastric bypass surgery. Most of her success stories were complete fabrications, with photos stolen from Russian mail-order bride sites.

She has hidden behind false identities, claimed someone else owned the site, spitefully dissipated assets to keep them from her victims, and launched vengeful campaigns, legal and otherwise, against some of the principle witnesses in the case.

She tried to countersue us; the court threw it out. She tried to file bankruptcy to halt the suit; the court threw it out. She has tried threats and intimidation; it backfires.

Meanwhile, John Tiedt and associates have scored victory after victory. John has won unprecedented rulings from the court. The case has been granted class action status, and John has petitioned the court for summary judgment. Since the defendant already admitted under oath in deposition to everything in the suit, we hope the court sees it our way. We should know soon.

. . . I clearly need to tighten up my summaries and use fewer words. But, believe me, this barely scratches the surface.

This story really ought to be a book or movie.

I guess I can add that several televison news shows and newspapers have covered this.

Here is a fuller explanation from Laura Dolson of
(I might quibble with a couple of minor points, such as when I actually left Kimkins vs. when 'Kimmer" admitted I had left, but this is overall a thorough, well-researched report.)

I hope this helps pull the highlights into one place.j

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Some People Just Don't Learn

OK, I know I have a lot of blogging to do to catch up. Let's see . . I need to post about:

- weight loss, low carbing, good food, some recent victories in that area, etc. --- the original purpose of this blog

- the Motion for Summary Judgment in the Kimkins case, filed by Tiedt and Cohen --- Go, John and Michael!

- the attempt by someone claiming to be Diaz' attorney Peabody to ask for my personal info via blog comment (as someone named Interested) so he/she/whoever could issue me a Cease and Desist order --- yeah, that's how most attorneys do it.

BUT, then, THIS just happened!

I recently joined Twitter and was trying to get that figured out and set up.
Part of that process allowed me to check my email accounts for contacts there who are already on Twitter.

Check out the first entry on that list:

In case you can't see that, it says:
Leslie Spiegel

I remember getting an email from someone named mommy25boys a while back, at least several months now. It seemed to be from a former Kimkins member who had left, but needed to lose some weight and was thinking about going back. She wanted to know what was going on, what I knew about the whole deal, whether she could do the diet safely, and so on. I remember that it 'felt' a little odd, but I had known someone at the Kimkins site who, as I recall, was Momto5boys, or something like that, so it seemed plausible. (Someone help me out on this one.) I have gotten hundreds of similar emails and private messages at various sites since I left Kimkins (in fact, I got one today on Facebook), so it did not seem unusual, except that I did have a funny feeling about that one. Still, I answered it.

I guarantee I did not see a sender email address of on the email, or I would not even have opened it. Nor did I see the name Leslie Spiegel. I thought Momto5boys was named Marcy.

So, I am wondering if Heidi.K.Diaz hid the correct address somehow, redirected it or something, but Twitter somehow discerned the correct account of origin.

That seems weird and maybe implausible --- but then, everything about this whole situation has been weird and implausible!

Anyway, it would seem that, during the course of this lawsuit, Heidi Diaz emailed me under a false identity to fish for ammunition to use against me.

Heidi/Kimmer/Vanessa/Nicole/Noelle/Jeri/etc./etc./etc. use a false identity? I'm shocked! I thought she swore she has turned over a new leaf and given up her evil ways!

Heidi Diaz come after me? Oh, yeah. This is not nearly the first time she has done mean and dishonest things to get to me. Hmmm . . . so she thinks I should roll over, be quiet, and pull my blog . . . while she pulls stunts like this?

I don't think so.

Monday, June 1, 2009

CPK Cobb Salad for Lunch --- and Dinner!

Yesterday, Donnie and I and one of the sons decided to use these scratch-up coupons from California Pizza Kitchen that had appeared at our house. I remembered having a great garlicky chicken caesar salad there, and figured I would get that, sans croutons.

I also remembered lots of delicious wood-fired pizzas there, too, but I am low-carbing, so those were out! I have learned not even to look at the menu section for things that are off-limits for me, so I contentedly checked out the salad section.

My husband LOVES Cobb salads, and was pleased to see one on the menu. For some reason, at the last minute, I ordered one, too, instead of the planned chicken caesar salad.

WOW! Is that a LOT of food?! I ordered a full salad --- should have gotten the half-salad instead. (Note to Self: When a place offers half-salads, that is a clue that their full salads are too big!)

It was big and jam-packed with plenty of rich items. The CPK menu describes it as:
Chopped lettuce with applewood smoked bacon, fresh avocado, grilled chicken, diced tomatoes, chopped egg, basil and Gorgonzola cheese with our herb ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing. Fresh beets added upon request.

We both got the works, with blue cheese dressing. My DH gave me the avocado from his salad, since he is not a fan of the yummy green stuff. (Something is wrong with that!) I gave him my beets, though I AM a fan of their ruby goodness, since they are somewhat carby for me.

I didn't realize the salad would arrive with the lettuce already tossed with AMPLE dressing. By the time I mixed in all the other goodies, including double avocado, it was a pretty creamy salad, more like cold creamy soup with lettuce mixed in than like crisp fresh salad greens with a bit a dressing.

Don't get me wrong --- I liked it! It was pretty heavy though. Online sources put it at 585 calories and 10 net carbs, which is well within my daily target, but just more than I normally have for a lunch.

I would have preferred that the dressing not be mixed in already; if I order this again, I will ask for that. That way, I could still get a whole salad, which is a better bargain than a half-salad, yet the half I take home would not get soggy.

Maybe I'll just save the heavy salads for hungrier days.

Anyway, we had a pleasant meal, good conversation, and enough leftover Cobb salad for my dinner, all at 10% off.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Is Losing Weight Easier in the Summer?

Here it is, another perfect day in May, and I am doing GREAT at sticking with my eating plan and exercise routine.

A few months ago, I was struggling, at best. What's the difference?

For me, I wonder if it is the sunshine that puts me in a more optimistic frame of mind. I feel like the whole world is hopeful on a pretty summer day, and anything is possible.

Maybe it is just that I'm outdoors more, and more physically active.
I work in the garden, take the dogs for longer walks, generally move a lot more.
That makes me feel more like taking care of my body.

Maybe it is that I shed chilly-weather garments, and become more conscious of what has been lurking underneath the layers.
THERE'S motivation enough for anyone!

Whatever the reason, I am glad to be "in the zone" again, and intend to make the most of the summer advantage.

So, does anyone else have the same experience?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We've Got Class!

Results are in! Once again, the court quickly certified the case against Kimkins as worthy of Class Action status.

As always, John Tiedt rocks!

Apparently, Mr. Peabody's arguments didn't impress much.

Then again, how could ANYONE defend what Heidi Diaz has done? She did what she did, repeatedly, flagrantly, and has already admitted to the entire basis of the suit against her under oath during deposition testimony.

So now, officially, she is being sued not by a mere handful of individuals, as she has claimed, but by about 40,000 defrauded customers.

It's ON!

Court Hearing in Process NOW!

I haven't posted here or been online much in a while after all --- long story.

But I have access to a computer this morning, and had to hop on quickly to say that the motion to certify the lawsuit against Kimkins/Diaz as a Class Action should be underway NOW.

Many people have put enormous effort for countless hours into this, wanting to see Heidi Diaz held accountable for defrauding them. Attorney John Tiedt has valiantly done some amazing work, all without recompense so far.

Here's hoping the court sees things clearly, and certifies the case for class action today (AGAIN).

The best outcome would be if Heidi Diaz is NOT allowed to prosper for her lying, cheating, and fraud, but instead her ill-gotten gain goes to recompense the people she traded on, and especially to John Tiedt for his efforts to champion her victims.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

When Social Networking is Social Contagion

OK. Those of us who have been part of the Kimkins saga have come to expect the unexpected. Once we got over the staggering shock of her shadiness and the depth of her duplicity, we came to see that Heidi Diaz simply knows no shame.

I think she really does believe her own stories.
I think that, in her own Etch-a-Sketch way of thinking, she has shaken the screen of her mind to erase and redraw the beginnings of Kimkins, so that all those years of painstakingly crafted and vociferously protected lies were just a tiny well-meaning marketing blunder from "just a housewife" with no business experience.

From her revisionist viewpoint, she was only trying to help poor fat people when she was viciously betrayed by a sinister cabal of jealous and greedy ingrates. Simultaneously, though, she considers herself a shrewdly superior businesswoman who will outsmart and outlast us all.

I'll say this much for her --- she's tenacious!

Most of us would have crawled away in mortification or just plain old good sense long ago. Not her! She has bluffed, blustered, barefaced lied, blogged, blamed everybody but herself, battled in court, and now she is blasting all the social media trying to trump up new business for as few bucks as possible.

She has had blogs on and off, as herself and under other identities, for some time now. She had her Kimkins newsletter, too.

She spammed Craigslist and Freecycle pretending to be a bunch of different people in a bunch of different towns.

She spammed Yahoo!Answers and under different guises to plug Kimkins.

She plugged Kimkins at other kinds of forums under different names, too.

She wrote pro-Kimkins puff pieces under her own name for viral article sites. I guess she has been learning about branding.

Then, with action at Kimkins dropping to almost nil, she started beating the bushes by sending past and present newsletters out to what seems like everyone who had EVER been on her mailing list, including many she has already banned from her site. I get them. My husband gets them. He never even joined Kimkins. We've both unsubscribed --- it doesn't matter. We still get them.

Then she must have signed up for a course in marketing via social media or something. She has dabbled in MySpace before, but this time she seems seriously determined.

She's all over MySpace. *yawn*

Then, she invited me to add her as a friend on Facebook and join her new Kimkins group.
*Yes, me --- you know, one of the ones she tried to sue for a million dollars a few months ago? Right!*
No way! Stay outta my Facebook, lady!

Yesterday, she sent an email saying she was following me on Twitter.
*So, you know, follow her back by clicking on the button? Sure, like that is going to happen!*
Please, lady, back off! Don't follow me on Twitter, or anywhere else for that matter.

So, tonight, my HUSBAND gets a LinkedIn notice that Heidi Diaz has joined LinkedIn and is looking to make connections.

Heidi Diaz

Owner, Kimkins

Greater Los Angeles Area
Health, Wellness and Fitness


* Owner at Kimkins


7 connections

* My Website
* My Blog
* My Blog

Public Profile

Interested In

* consulting offers
* new ventures
* job inquiries
* expertise requests
* business deals
* reference requests
* getting back in touch

Somehow, that was the last straw for my husband. He reported her avatar to LinkedIn as misrepresentation, and told them to do a Google search about the Kimkins law suit.

Yep, she's tenacious!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


As an former San Diegan, I miss In-N-Out Burger. *sigh*

Here in Texas, I've tried Sonic and Steak 'n Shake, which are probably fine establishments in their own right (or not), but nothing has come close to In-N-Out to me. Especially on a low carb diet, (or any kind of diet, for that matter), the breaded and fried fare at Sonic or the larger-than-life menu illustrations of mega-deluxe milkshakes at Steak 'n Shake are just about deal-breakers that make those difficult places to dine wisely.

This week I tried something that almost --- but not quite --- comes close. Mooyah is a small local chain that seems directly modeled after In-N-Out. Same concept of a small menu of burgers, fries, shakes, and soft drinks; same emphasis on fresh beef and hand cut fries; even the same red and white color scheme.

On the plus side, Mooyah offers a bigger list of condiments to add for free to customize your sandwich. They offer a choice of American, cheddar, or swiss cheese, and also have whole wheat buns for the asking. The atmosphere when we were there seemed calmer and friendlier than In-N-Out, and the service was speedy.

What I went for was the very aptly-named Iceburger, which is the burger of your choice nicely done up in a generous wrapping of cool crisp iceburg lettuce leaves instead of a bun. In-N-Out offers this under the prosaic label of "Protein Style" on their 'secret' menu, but I think Mooyah may do a better job with the lettuce wrapper, and the name is more clever. (In my opinion, this may be the world's only legitimate use for iceburg lettuce.)

On the negative side, Mooyah costs more than I remember paying at In-N-Out. The thing that really aggravated me, though, is that they do not list or publish any nutrition info that I could find. They do not make it easy to know exactly how many calories, carbs, fat, sodium, sugar, points, or anything people on various diets or with certain health issues might want or need to track. That seems pretty backwards to me.

Plus, well, it's just not In-N-Out.

Nice enough, though --- I'll be back.