Double Down Opening Day

There’s been a lot of hype about this sandwich. People have called it everything under the sun, from gluttonous to glorious, delectable to disgusting. The internet is abuzz about two pieces of fried chicken surrounding bacon, cheese, and a condiment known only as “Colonel’s Sauce”. The last thing I want to do is buy into corporate marketing, or continue adding fuel to the hype fire, but I think it’s fair to say: this sandwich is our generation’s moon landing.

Think about it. For years, developed civilizations have been trying to push the boundaries of sandwich exploration. China made great strides in the 18th century, up until the Dalian Dagwood Disaster of 1852. With the memories still haunting, the Chinese abandoned the concept altogether and never looked back . The Russians’ bold dressing experiments yielded great results, revolutionizing the Reuben, until the concept and naming rights were stolen by Canadian espionage. In the early 40’s, some of Italy’s brightest minds boldly suggested that they do something other than “cut it long ways an stick some meat in there.” Mussolini had them executed immediately.

With the proper historical context in mind, you can see why the launch of the Double Down is such a momentous occasion. True American creativity, ingenuity, and passion all coming together between a thin paper wrapper on a red plastic tray. I like to imagine that the sandwich was invented in a smoke filled room full of scientists, much like the problem solving sequence from Apollo 13. Facing enormous pressure, the Colonel walks into this room, dumps out a box of ingredients, holds up the chickenbacon, and declares “Gentleman. We’ve got to find a way to get this [bacon], into the space meant for this [chicken], using nothing but that [whattheshitiscolonel’ssauce]. Get to work.”

The result is exactly what you think it is. The best description I’ve seen to date was from Adam Frucci of Gizmodo: “You see, it’s a sandwich, but instead of bread it uses fried fucking chicken.” I really can’t say it any better than that.

I was really excited to see it laid out before me, vainly wrapped in a thin sheet of wax paper. I took out the Nikon and started snapping away on macro mode, drawing a fair bit of attention for being the chicken photographing bag of douche in the corner. My antics drew the attention of Sean and Tim, UT students and fellow Downers who had also made the trek up to 2222 to stand in line and fork over $7 for the Colonel’s latest masterpiece. We talked shop for awhile, until they had also received their double D’s, and compared notes after the first bite.

“Fuck. That’s a lot of chicken”, was the general consensus, with follow up notes about the flavor:
-The Bacon. Pretty good, but standard fast-food, pre-microwaved bacon. Salty, thin, and somewhat crispy.
-The Cheese. Better than we expected, which was miles from gourmet, but within spitting distance of Velveeta.
-The Sauce. It’s got good flavor, but the end result depends on the quantity. I think mine was pretty perfect, but Tim’s looked like it was drowning.
-The Chicken. Awesome. Mine was actually crispy when served, and looked more like the advertised version than any fast food sandwich I’ve ever had.
-Presentation. Meh. I could eat mine, but others were so hot, they were near impossible to hold. At least for Texas markets, KFC should serve them with a flour tortilla. Not a “turns it into a burrito” type of flour tortilla, but a “use it like an edible pot holder” flour tortilla.

In general, it’s exactly what you think it is. If you’re the type who likes fried chicken, bacon, cheese and red mayonnaise, KFC has your number. If you thought it was disgusting to begin with, forcing one down your mouth hole in a restaurant that also serves as a Long John Silver’s isn’t likely to be a game changing experience for you.

Most of the media hullabaloo has focused on how “over the top” this sandwich is. Eating it in person made me think otherwise. In actuality, it’s little more than a McDonald’s Chicken Bacon Ranch sans bun plus chicken. The idea of using chicken as a bun is intriguing, but does two wimpy pieces of bacon and some condiments make it “gluttonous?” Hardly. The thing has less calories than a standard Big Mac, and had it been released more than 3 years ago, it would have simply been called “Atkins Friendly.” If we really want to get “gluttonous”, let’s get crazy with that shit. How about a Philly cheese steak with chicken buns? “Two all beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun?” Fuck what you’ve heard, let’s use chicken.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s a great concept, but hardly the end-all-be-all of fast food ridiculousness. I personally thought KFC’s previous iteration of mashed potatoes+chicken+corn+cheese+gravy was more outlandish than this (not to mention that bowls have 140 more calories).

From a strictly marketing perspective, I’ve got to hand it to KFC and Yum! The test marketing strategy, followed by the internet buzz and media promotion made this one a winner before it ever left the gate. They were able to create an Apple-like event, where loyal fanboys stood outside their local store, clamoring to get the latest product and write about it on their blogs. What losers those people are.

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