Apr 15, 2010

Double Down? No.

Today I decided to be a part of the asinine hype surrounding the release of the fast food world's latest artery clogger and do a little recon for Napkins, and the general welfare of the community. I went with my coworkers Tom and Eric to pick up the new Double Down from KFC.

Why the so-called hype? The Double Down is the latest release in the "horrifically unhealthy food products" category that brought us other reality distorting Frankensteins of fat like the Quad Stacker from Burger King, the 2/3 lb Monster Thickburger from Hardee's and Domino's Breadbowl Pastas (KFC also brought us those "Famous Bowls"... mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, corn niblets, fried chicken and cheese).

These nutrition-less cholesterol carriers have drawn outrage from quality and calorie-concerned eaters in the past, who are opposed by a more jovial-in-nature scoff and grin from the 'hey, let the people have what they want you crazy herbivores" types.

When Tom started rounding folks up to "double down", I was all for it - not for the food itself, but to evaluate and communicate my impression. There were a few things I wanted to find out:
  1. Would it be tasty? 
  2. Just how greasy would it be?
  3. How big was this thing?
  4. How would I feel after eating it?
  5. And what kind of reaction would we get from others?
Our trip started with a lot of laughter and grins. Tom talked coworkers of all types, from our COO down, into trying the product with us (I guess advertisers are just as susceptible to peer pressure as anyone else). Our pickup order totaled nine Double Downs. Tom, Eric and I set out for the KFC north of our office, giggling to ourselves the whole way. Tom commented that he "knew this was going to be a great day" when he woke up that day, excited about the Double Down run. I was enjoying the novelty of the idea, but didn't hold out much hope that the product would actually be enjoyable.

There was a decent-sized line of folks ordering in the drive thru window - I can only assume they were all ordering double downs - when we pulled up.

The hilarity continued as we entered the restaurant and took note of the Double Down signage:

The atrocious slogan "so meaty, there's no room for the bun!" is indicative of how hair brained this idea really is.

As we started interacting with the order taker, General Manager Cheryl*, things started tipping from funny to sad. ...But it was funny for a while yet.

Cheryl was full of memorable one liners. As we tallied up the number of double d's in our order right in front of her, she barked, "I need 18 of them fillets going down right now!" to her crew. Two chicken fillets per Double Down, times nine in our order meant 18. Impressive mental math and managerial skills. Don't underestimate Cheryl.

Other funny quips from Cheryl, delivered in a mumble, shrouded by her own laughter:

  • "It's a pretty big sandwich... if you want to call it a sandwich"
  • "Where's the bun, baby?!"
  • "You gonna eat these here?" ...the joke being how funny it was that she hadn't figured out we were ordering for more than the three of us
As the irritated crew scurried around to fulfill our large order, a pregnant woman walked in (no doubt starving given her condition) unwittingly believing that, because there were few patrons in the restaurant, she would be served quickly. Several minutes passed before she was even acknowledged by Cheryl, and even when she was, it was only a holler from the back that it was going to take a few minutes before she would be helped. She decided to wait it out. Clearly, though, our order had taken a toll.

I thought several times about joking with the pregnant lady that eating for two meant she was literally "doubling down", so she had come to the right place. Thanks God my cognitive mind dissuaded my mouth from opening and embarrassing us all.

(All the while, "You and Me" by Dave Matthews was playing. Its chorus contains the words "end of the world" which are sung twice before moving on to the next verse, meaning that, as we waited on our order of nine Double Downs, containing 540 calories and 32 grams of fat each, softly, almost subconsciously, we were reminded that our lunches were certain signs of the entropy that is bringing the world closer to its ultimate demise.)

As we piled back into Tom's new-ish Mitsubishi, Eric commented on how nice it smelled. Tom pointed out that the vents had clip-on new car smell inserts that maintained its pleasant odor. Only a few short minutes down the road, that pleasant-smelling breeze was heavy and humid, wreaking of fried batter - like the Colonel himself was breathing directly into our faces. The tide was turning.

Walking back in the doors at work we received more sneers than high fives. The gig was up. This was a joke that was best left a hilarious concept, rather than actualized. We headed for a fishbowl (conference room with glass walls) where other DD purchasers would find us and regretfully retrieve their grease-laden cartons of chicken, cheese, sauce and bacon. Everyone seemed a little less enthused with their purchase once it was actually in their hands than they had been when originally talked into the idea of buying one.

Reactions to the actual food were mixed. Here is mine:


Think about it. Take fried chicken, which is supposed to have a crispy crust on the outside, let it steam in a little cardboard box saturated with excess grease for several minutes, then open. The crunch has been replaced by sog. Secondly, these two thick pieces of chicken are further saturated with mayo-based sauce and melted pepperjack cheese inside. Also inside is a piece of bacon which probably was never crunchy in the first place, but drowned in a pool of orange goo was repulsively flaccid.

Only one flavor prevailed, and that was frialator grease.

I was able to consume four or five small bites - about 1/4 of the bunless sandwich - before I became nauseous and threw it away. My companions conquered the whole thing, but I'm not sure anyone truly enjoyed it (please comment if you did). I felt horrible and, inside, an urge was growing to protect the world from making the mistake I had of doubling down.

My lasting impression of the Double Down? I can't believe they created it, and I can't believe people willingly eat it. It's wrong on many levels. I hadn't gone into this experiment planning on disliking the Double Down as much as I did, but the frightening lack of texture or flavors, the ungodly amount of calories, fat and sodium... even the amount of paper waste we created were all abhorrent.

I'm glad to know that despite this trend toward creating the ultimate fat-in-hand fast food product, cuisine is somehow, at the same time, also trending toward increasing the availability and service of whole, all natural, organic foods - foods less tampered with by humans for the purposes of preservation, portability and convenience, and more in keeping with how our bodies were designed to consume it.

It was fun while it lasted, I suppose. All four bites. But take my advice - use my mistake for your own wisdom - and stay the heck away from KFC and their awful Double Down. It's truly a disgrace. 

Rating: unrated 

*Names altered for privacy.


theemptyset said...

I can't believe you did this! I would think your refined palate would've adamantly refused and immediately revolted just as soon as the challenge was issued.

For the preservation of mankind, your story needs to be told...

Expatriate Chef said...

I think this is one of your best posts yet! Really enjoying your site.

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