|Photo courtesy of good friend and Twitter legend Andrew Katz.|
So way back in 2009, I decided that, at some point, I needed to try this sandwich (if you could call it that). The problem was, other things kept getting in the way: school, work, schoolwork, the Arab Spring, dignity, etc. My desire to try the Double Down gradually started to wane, and eventually, it was pushed into the already crowded realm of Things I Like To Joke About Doing But Will Probably Never Actually Do (heroin, prostitutes, showering) (I'm kidding about one of these things. Try to guess which one!).
The process actually began on Friday night when--our passion abetted by a few drinks--my friend Lorenzo and I declared that tomorrow we would go to KFC for lunch, and we would each order and eat one Double Down. Granted, I had made similar promises before, but there was something about this one that seemed more honest and genuine. Again, this may just have been because of the alcohol, but it's possible bigger forces were also at play.
Sure enough, at 1:00 in the afternoon the next day, I found myself waiting in line at a KFC on the Upper West Side with Lorenzo, mere moments away from finally bringing this dream of mine to fruition. We briefly debated backing out and ordering something that didn't spit in the face of the Earl of Sandwich but decided that, no, we had come here to try the Double Down, and, by God, that was what we were going to do.
And it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
Having said that, this is mainly because my expectations were almost comically low, and I certainly don't think I'll ever order a Double Down again. But I had assumed that this sandwich would instantly give me a heart attack or, at the very least, Type 2 diabetes. What I got instead was a sandwich that looked disgusting and that sat heavily and unpleasantly in my stomach for several hours but ultimately tasted fine, minus a few bites that were a little heavy on the Colonel's Sauce (I don't know what this is, but it was light orange, which made me slightly uneasy).
Because at its core, the Double Down really isn't a very nauseating combination of ingredients. It's chicken, bacon, cheese, and sauce. The infamy and the sense of deep, existential shame you experience while ordering and eating it both stem almost entirely from the presentation: you are clearly eating a sandwich that has substituted two slices of bread for two fried chicken breasts, and it's difficult to get past that. Really, all KFC would have to do is slap some bread above and below each piece of chicken to essentially turn the Double Down into a chicken club sandwich (incidentally, it would also become more unhealthy, as the bread would add calories and carbs). But a chicken club sandwich isn't very exciting. Not exciting enough to make a supposedly intelligent 23-year-old spend years of his life wondering what one tastes like, anyway.
So I guess it's possible that this whole Double Down thing was just an elaborate marketing campaign, an attempt by KFC to pique the morbid curiosity of consumers that I completely bought into. In which case I say to the fine people at Yum! Brands: nice job, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next. How about just shoving all of your popular menu items into a bowl?