Sunday, April 18, 2010
You've undoubtedly heard of KFC's new “sandwich,” the Double Down. It seems like every yahoo with a web site, from the New York Times to FireDogLake.com to something called CafeMom.com, has written a review tearing apart the latest food innovation from the corporate conglomerate that markets food-like products under the Colonel Sanders brand. Criticizing the Double Down has become a cottage industry whose origins stretch back to 2009, when the Double Down was released in limited markets. I imagine sales at KFC have been on the rise just from the number of bloggers and other rubberneckers ordering one for irony's sake.
Not that I can criticize too much. I, too, went down to my local KFC—for the first time ever—just to order and consume a Double Down, as part of a group of novelty-food enthusiasts. After my post in praise of sandwiches (which mentioned the Double Down), I felt like it was my duty to taste what very well could be the future of sandwiches.
If you haven't heard on another website, or if that picture is unclear, the Double Down consists of bacon, cheese, and an anonymous sauce slapped disinterestedly between two fried chicken breasts. It's basically a product of the Tracy Jordan Meat Machine—meat is the new bread! As should be obvious, this is not a great piece of culinary art. The cheese on mine was mostly flavorless and not melted. The bacon added very little to the sandwich and was probably pumped so full of artificial chemicals it wouldn't have counted as pork for kosher purposes. The chicken wasn't so bad, if a little on the dry side, and the sauce—probably the best part of the experience—was basically thousand island dressing. The whole thing was extraordinarily salty and strangely, not as filling as I thought it would be. In short, it sucked.
But of course it sucked—this is KFC we're talking about. This is the company that gets routinely protested by animal rights groups and mocked by portly standup comedians. The real Colonel Sanders once called the food KFC serves “sludge,” and the company got sued because its food was so unhealthy. So KFC introduced an unhealthy sandwich that doesn't taste all that great. In other news, the sky is blue, rain is wet, and the Catholic Church doesn't know how to handle the large number of pedophiles and repressed homosexuals in its priesthood. Whoop-de-doo.
Actually, I didn't think the Double Down was so bad as modern fast food goes, and one of the people who ate it with me thought it was awesome. It might be unhealthy, but it's certainly edible. The only reason this is worth talking about? The price: it cost about six dollars for the sandwich alone, seven-fifty if you wanted a drink. That's the weird, alarming thing about this sandwich, not those 32 grams of fat or the 1,380 milligrams of sodium (General Tso's chicken has way more sodium) or the sheer grotesqueness of it's appearance—fast food looks bad, tastes bad, and will kill you eventually, this is known by everyone—but the idea that someone would pay the equivalent of 12 Jack in the Box tacos for it.
Food-assisted suicide is old hat in America—remember Super Size Me? or Fast Food Nation? But by creating and marketing the Double Down KFC isn't just assuming that Americans like things that are bad for them, they're assuming that people like life-threatening food so much that they'll pay dearly for the privilege of clogging their arteries. And who's to say they're wrong?
(photo by Scott Tomford)