Monday, June 21, 2010

KFC's Double Down

Much has been said, joked and embellished about KFC's Double Down.

If you already know about it or even had it yourself, this post will neither be timely nor informative.

I just felt the need to document, perhaps for my internist, that I ate it this week. The Double Down, as you know, has been called an abomination of marketing--a culmination of everything that's wrong about fast food culture and the latest in the kind of corporate one-upmanship that previously brought us Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme™ and Hardee's Monster Biscuit™.

But first, a primer just in case you've been living in a grass hut the past couple of months: the Double Down is KFC's chicken sandwich where the bun is replaced by two deep-fried chicken breasts.

Inside, there are two slices of cheese, sauce, and of course, bacon. The bacon, I think, is a key ingredient, and not because it really brings anything to the party except more fat and salt (more on that later). No, the bacon is there because doing anything these days without bacon is like Lady Gaga without the bizarre outfits.

Bacon = Bras That Shoot Fire = Attention.

Yet despite it all (actually, because of it all) I wanted none of it. I avoided it as if it were a movie with live action animals that talk. I even turned down my editor's request to do a piece on it. My fellow Weekling, Das Ubergeek, was finally stuck with the task. His last words were to remind us that he took one for the team. (I haven't forgotten, Dave, I haven't forgotten).

But then with a product which seemed designed like a college fraternity dare (Dude, try this thing I made last night!), I finally tried one because someone dared me.

"Aw c'mon. You're a food blogger. It is your duty to at least try it!" a friend (and the soon-to-be, bunless-chicken-sandwich co-conspirator you see pictured above) goaded.

So I caved and went.

It's true what everyone's said. It's salty. Insanely and almost unbearingly so. That first bite is like a sodium shock to the system. Every pore of my tongue got immediately parched, robbed dry of moisture. I'm telling you, you can melt driveway ice or cure meat with the amount of salt that's in this thing. It's not just the breading either; every millimeter of the flesh is super-saturated with sodium.

But then a strange thing happened. On the second bite, and every successive chew afterward, my mouth became acclimated. Like the proverbial frog in hot water, I started building up a tolerance. It actually stopped tasting salty, and started being edible. And the bacon? Pretty soon, it didn't even taste like bacon, but a flavorless piece of nothing, which really says something about how overwhelming the salt content was.

With my shell-shocked tastebuds dulled, I actually found myself saying to my friends, "Hey, this isn't that bad. Stick it between two slices of bread and you get a $5 chicken sandwich. It's sort of anti-climatic actually."

...Which is when I got cocky. I decided that hot sauce was what it needed. So I opened a packet with a picture of the colonel on it and poured the entire contents over the remainder of the "sandwich". That, mi amigos, was a mistake. Now it was even saltier, and also soaked in sour vinegary-ness.

I must have drank 10 cups of water that afternoon to rehydrate myself.

So, doctor, if you're reading this, for the record, I only had one Double Down. It was my first, and I promise, it will be my last.

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At 1:09 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

*Gasp* I can't believe you tried it! Great description of how you acclimated to the salt.

Did I ever send you the Serious Eats Double Down Throwdown version? I would totally eat that one...

At 10:51 PM, Anonymous bertN said...

That's living dangerously! It is a slow-mo version of a man with a pacemaker running low on battery making love to a deranged nymphomaniac LOL.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

WHAT! You ate an entire double down! CRAZY ELMO! ;) This is definitely worth documenting :).

You are amazing. Definitely jug that water down! (Now, not too much of it...) I am definitely too sissy cat for this. I'd cut a 1/2 of it and eat it with three slices of bread. A thin chicken big mac, I'd say, with some veggies to go along. :)

At 10:30 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

I wish I knew why FoodCorp. insists on drenching every food in salt?
Do they actively WANT their customers to die from heart attacks?
I was actually up to try one, but after reading Elmos "Study in Salting the Human Body", I think I'll just go lick a saltblock & be done with it.
So much for the benefit of the Colonel's Seekrit 11 Herbs & Spices...

At 10:38 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I found it! This one looks the same, but I bet it's tastier and less salty. I wish KFC figured out that "tasty" does not mean "salty".


Well okay! When you put it that way, it sounds kinda appealing.


Yes, I, too was surprised I was able to eat the whole thing. Das Ubergeek could only finish half. Though I think he was smart in stopping early.

It really could've used something bland like rice...though rice and cheese would be really gross. Hmm...bread! That's it!


I think I read a humorist say that 10 out of the 11 herbs and pieces is salt. I don't think he's even exaggerating.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Probably be better with shrimp paste sauce ;-)

At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Dominique Pugh said...

I think the most ridiculous thing about that monstrosity is that the grilled double down has more sodium content than a fried one...if only by a smidgen.

At 5:22 AM, Anonymous chests said...

I love KFC! I grew up eating there and hanging out there. I love their food there.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Exile Kiss said...

Hi elmomonster,

/comfort. (;_;)

That saddest part is that this monstrosity took down *2* great foodies (you and Das) in one go. I'm glad I've never tried, nor will I ever try it. :) Thanks for the warning.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Oh no MM is down for the count 1...2...Oh wait not this KFC's DD. MM lives to eat for an eternity.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Madison said...

Reading your description of this culinary masterpiece solidifies why I have not nor will I ever eat this. I felt myself getting parched just reading this post. Someone had to throw themselves on that grenade. I'm glad it was not me! The things you do for posterity!

At 7:48 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I would never waste the shrimp paste sauce on this! And cross my fingers this doesn't shorten my eating-life-span!


Ridiculous is right. And ironic!


Your real name wouldn't be Eric Cartman would it? HAH! Yeah, same as you, I've been known to enjoy a piece of Extra Tasty Crispy once in a while. But Popeyes! Now that's fast food fried chicken!


You wouldn't believe the salt headache I had for the remainder of that afternoon! Sheesh!


Tell me about it. This is not something you want to eat before you take a jog. It's something you want to eat when you want to drink water continuously for hours!

At 11:39 PM, Blogger mark said...

Personally I found it to be small and overhyped. It's basically just two pieces of chicken with a slice of cheese and bacon. I have friends who eat the mashed potatoes and mac & cheese from KFC, but say the Double Down is "too much." I'm like, "What?" The mashed potatoes and mac & cheese are far worse.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Liz said...

Oh gosh... this looks deadly

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Dennis K. said...

Hi elmomonster, I've been ignoring the link to this post on my blog list for a long time.... But when I finally gave in and read I was glad that I did. It was everything I hoped the write up would be.. I'd still never actually eat one though. ;)

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Amanda said...

I commend you for your bravery.

It's interesting that you commented on how it was so salty. I recently read an blog post on Top Cultured about using a Krispy Kreme doughnut as the "bun" for a double down. I thought the idea was absolutely disgusting at the time, and I still do, but I suppose it would make sense to add such a sugary bun to balance out the sodium packed meat :P

At 9:28 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Fat Panda,

I actually found it to be larger than I expected; but also, over-hyped. And I've never been to understand their mac and cheese. Is it even cheese? It looks less like Cheese than Cheez Wiz, which is saying something!


A few more of these and it wouldn't just *look* deadly! God help anyone who eats these regularly!


Well I'm glad you finally read it! And yes, it's definitely something I ate so that you don't have to!


Oh geez. If there was something this thing needs, it's a donut bun. That's American ingenuity: if you can't make it better, make it bigger!

At 10:19 PM, Blogger imjustatree said...

i consider myself somewhat of an adventurous eater, but i don't think i would ever eat that's funny because calorie wise it's less than other popular fast food items, but good lord the sodium will kill reminded me a bit of mcdonald's rumoured mcgangbang. nice writeup though!

At 10:19 PM, Blogger imjustatree said...

sorry for the double post, but i just wanted to add that reading this made me really thirsty haha

At 10:47 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Reading that reading this post made you thirsty makes me remember the post and makes me thirsty!


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