Revisited: Doubling down on the Double Down

KFC has come out with a new version of its fried chicken, cheese and bacon “Double Down” sandwich that’s made specially for police departments. It’s called the “Officer Down.” — A Joke

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The latest belly-busting outrage perpetrated by the fast-food industry on the American public is KFC’s Double Down. Critics have called it “too much,” a “heart-stopping, artery-clogging mix,” and “even worse than if an asteroid hit the Earth at the same time that volcanoes erupted everywhere, in the midst of a smallpox epidemic and a worldwide economic meltdown.” KFC counters that it’s simply “meaty.”

Yeah, it’s meaty, alright. In fact, it’s the only item currently on the market that combines the essence of three different animals in one sandwich. Cows, chickens and pigs all gave of themselves in providing ingredients for this meal, making it sort of the turducken for all seasons. Logging in at 32 grams of fat and an entirely reasonable three times the minimum daily requirement for sodium, this Frankenstein with cheese is hardly the least-healthy thing available at drive-throughs these days. Not when Wendy’s offers a “salad” with 540 calories and McDonald’s employees are more than happy to crawl through the take-out window and punch you in the eye.

Besides, we don’t care if it’s going to kill us and our entire family. We just want to know how it tastes.

My teenage son was the first in our clan to take on the challenge. “It’s not really that different from a cordon bleu,” he noted hopefully, before pronouncing it “delicious — can I get another one?” (No).

Mindful that things are not always what they seem — I’m thinking of the friend currently on a “no-carb” diet that allows him to eat just the toppings off of pizzas — I thought I’d give the Double Down a try for myself.

We went to the KFC outlet about a mile from my house, over by the hospital (a coincidence). I forget now when “Kentucky Fried Chicken” officially changed its name to “KFC,” but I’m pretty sure it was about the same time that “Oil of Olay” became simply “Olay,” and “Poisonous Appetizers” became “Applebee’s”. It definitely convinced me there was no unhealthy deep-frying going on inside the KFC. I figured the “KF” now stood for either “Killed Fresh” or “Kinda Funky.”

We pulled into the parking lot and I insisted on going into the restaurant, instead of using the drive-through, so I could get the full Double Down experience in person. A sign on the door warned “Livers Cooked Upon Request,” but I figured they’d leave mine alone unless they were asked to do otherwise. Another sign advertised KFC’s efforts to promote “Susan G. Komen for the Cure” through their website bucketsforthecure.com. It apparently struck no one at the corporate marketing level as ironic that the company would encourage the cooking of some creatures’ breasts, while trying to heal others.

A large group of red-shirted workers clamored about behind the counter. Either it was shift change, or else the quantity of personnel required to assemble all the components of the Double Down was making a serious dent in the nation’s unemployment rate. An eager young cashier named Ricky approached and asked to take my order. I’d have three “Downs” to go: one fried, one grilled, and one fried without “Colonel sauce”. He faithfully repeated the order using completely different words, so I stated it again. Finally, he was clear on what I wanted, though he wasn’t too sure it could be communicated accurately down the long production line, so he went around back to oversee operations. (In retrospect, I was glad I decided not to goof on him and ask if I could get a “Triple Down” if I supplied my own mortar).

I looked up at the big promotional sign behind the counter as I waited. “The new KFC Double Down sandwich is real!” it exclaimed. “This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets, two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese” and the aforementioned “Colonel sauce,” which my son feared had been exhumed from the Harlan Sanders gravesite in Louisville, Kentucky. “This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!”

Soon Ricky returned to reluctantly inform me that they had run out of fried breasts, and would it be okay to make the no-sauce order with one piece grilled and one fried. I was not about to abide such an abomination of nature for my son, and asked if they couldn’t hybridize my sauced item instead. No, unfortunately, that one had already been assembled, and couldn’t be deconstructed without surgical tools not currently in stock at that location. It would take a full five minutes to have a fresh batch of the fried breasts ready, so Ricky offered me a complementary Pepsi while I waited. It tasted nothing like fried chicken, which was probably for the best.

We finally got the order, paying out a hefty $16.17 for the late lunch. My son dove into his sandwich as soon as we were back in the car, but I decided to wait until we got home where I could thoroughly concentrate on the taste experience and also be closer to emergency services if they became necessary.

I’d describe the sandwich as fairly predictable, tasty but on the dry side, which made sense considering that last fried piece had probably been sitting under a warming lamp since earlier in the day. The separate cheeses had melted together into a single blend by now, rendering it unclear which was Monterey Jack, which was pepper jack, and which was Jack Kevorkian. The bacon was distinguishable from the chicken only because it was harder and stringier, not because it tasted anything like bacon. The sauce was there, fulfilling its minimum requirement.

After I finished off the meal, I waited for the after-effects I had been led to expect. The Los Angeles Times had warned of unspecified “physical distress” while other accounts led me to anticipate a six-foot-long hole being blasted into my colon. I loitered near the bathroom while waiting for the inevitable, as the Down moved down my duodenum, down my jejunum, down my cecum. Soon, I heard a dog barking in the distance, and the rustle of a spring windstorm in the trees. Somewhere, a baby cried and an old man breathed his last breath. In Switzerland, particles inside the Large Hadron Collider smashed together at tremendous speeds, releasing untold amounts of energy. My bowels, however, remain unmoved. Only a mild heartburn inhabited the space that had recently cleared KFC’s latest taste sensation. I had survived.

The next day, I delivered the grilled version to a friend at work. He asked if it were a breakfast food or a lunch food, and I speculated that perhaps it wasn’t a food at all but instead a sort of interstellar plasma. A short while later, I asked if he had downed the Down.

“I’m down with the Down, but it’s not much on taste, is it?” he asked. “I’d say more of a ‘cordon blah’ than a cordon bleu.”

 
Getting down with the Double Down
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