Sometimes, it takes a very good friend to talk you into a very bad idea.
An idyllic Tuesday afternoon in beautiful sunny Memphis Tennessee. Your fearless narrator:
Prepares to meet up with one of his nearest and dearest friends:
In a potentially doomed effort to face off against this stupid prick:
And his most heinous creation:
(Note: bacon. Will reference later. Also, “There’s no room for the bun”? More like, “There’s no room for your dignity”)
That’s right. We had chosen (or rather, Zach had suggested, and really, did anyone think I was going to refuse?) to mount a full frontal assault (only narrowly avoiding full frontal nudity, I promise you) at perhaps the most preposterous fast food creation to emerge since, oh, the “Failure Pile In A Sadness Bowl” which if I’m not mistaken The Colonel was responsible for as well! Wow, who would have imagined that? I’d love to see what they come up with next BUT… I’m getting ahead of myself. For this experiment/adventure/HEROICALLY bad idea, we met for lunch at the KFC around the corner from my apartment. After a brief mutual pep talk, we boldly strode into said fast-chicken establishment and each ordered up a “Double Down Meal” which constituted:
1 Nightmare sandwich
1 Order of potato wedges which also taste like chicken because they fry them in the same oil they cook the chicken in
To the tune of 8 bucks. That’s a little insane, if you ask me, and I don’t feel like a crusty old codger complaining about the price of this gastrointestinal assault only because we paused to compare it to, say the price of a:
BBQ Chef Salad from Central BBQ, just on the other side of the neighborhood
Massive take-out container full of Lemongrass Tofu from Pho Binh, basically right around the corner
“Live” Vegan Burger from Sean’s Cafe, literally spitting distance from where we sat
All of which were the same price or cheaper than the shitstorm we were about to endure. But again, I digress. Only because I want to postpone reliving the memories of this anguish for as long as I can. Alas, I fear the time has come. As it was too late for us to turn back by that point, so is it too late for me to turn back now. So we ordered our “meals,” and filled up our drinks, and headed for our tiny table. I opted for a Dr. Pepsi (Pepsi and Dr. Pepper – what, don’t tell you me DON’T mix up your own custom drinks at the soda fountain. What are you, dead?) while Zach boldly chose something called Maranda Strawberry Soda, which I noted was the same color as the trays our food was served on.
Never a good sign.
Anyway, after a few minutes of trepidation and fear, our orders arrived. Here is the Double Down in its natural environs, hiding out in its little cardboard cave (which, I firmly believe, left to sit for long enough, its grease would devour entirely and incorporate into the mass of the actual sandwich) like some kind of insidious sea eel that hides inside a rock and waits for some harmless unwitting sunfish to lazily swim by before it STRIKES WITH VICIOUS ACCURACY AND PRECISION LIKE THE UNDERWATER PRICK IT IS except in this case the sea eel is a chicken chicken sandwich and the sunfish is my taste buds and my intestines.
Except for one thing: I brought science.
Here’s the thing: for most people who are used to just eating like normal food that tastes good and doesn’t make you pray for death after you finish it, trying to ingest two fried chicken breasts covering up cheese and sauce for lunch on an average Tuesday would probably be asking far far too much of themselves, and rightfully so. But my friend Zach and I are not most people who are used to just eating like normal food that tastes good and doesn’t make you pray for death after you finish it. Zach’s the only person I know who’s ever prepared and served an entire turducken by hand (with help, granted), and by this point I’d hope my credentials speak for themselves. So in this particular instance, instead of being afraid of the double downs, maybe the double downs should have been afraid of us.
Oh, wait, what? Why isn’t the cheese melted? And why does it look like someone blew their nose on the inside of my chicken chicken sandwich? Holy shit, okay I take back everything I just said, this is impossible. No way am I eating this shit. Bite me.
I think that one was Zach’s, and this one was mine, although honestly I can’t remember by this point. I try to think back on the actual experience of masticating this thing and my mind kind of drifts away to a happier place, which would more or less be anywhere other than sitting there staring this abomination in the face. It looked like two alien fetuses sandwiched around some white plastic, with carnival cheese inserted in the middle as some kind of lubricant. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what it tasted like, I think.
I didn’t get a plate (I think They Hate Me at KFC, they probably sensed what I was up to the minute I walked in, or least when I put on the lab coat) but this is what Zach’s “Meal” (and yes I will continue to use that word in quotes for the rest of this report) looked like, all splayed out. This is what 8 hard earned dollars will buy you in our Brave New World, America. Choke it down.
This is an illustrative photograph depicting the physical remnants that the Double Down leaves behind when you remove it from its housing. I don’t know if the clarity of the pictures does it justice but there was a thin, mostly clear liquid that emanated from the thing and pooled in the bottom of the container that resembled lymph fluid more than it did chicken grease and threatened to eat through the paper, the container, and possibly the sandwich itself (?) if it wasn’t dispersed or somehow contained. Let me tell you something, I grew up a couple of towns down the highway from where the god damn Buffalo Wing was invented, and I’ve proudly lived in the home of The Single Greatest Fried Chicken Restuarant In The World, Ever for a couple years now, so I’d like to think I know a thing or two about what happens to chicken when you fry it, and I can promise you this much – it doesn’t continue to leak thin yellowish runny fluid for several minutes after you take it out of the fryer. Real chicken grease will congeal as the meat cools, and make a delicious (and horribly bad for you, but who cares) kind of middle layer between the skin and the meat (and if you’re eating wings, the meat and the bone) that no one wants to tell you about but is the secretly best part of eating really good fried chicken of any variety. That is not at all what was happening here. This “sandwich” was crying. That’s all it was doing, crying thin runny yellow tears of pain and existential anguish at its meager comprehension of what an utterly unspeakable abomination it was. All there was left to do was put it out of my misery.
So that’s what I did.
REQUISITE NASTY FACE PICTURE
And in case you doubted my partner in crime’s commitment, here he is chowing down on his opponent as well, with admirable gusto, and not only that, but…
Here he is shoving a bite into his mouth that was seriously, hand to god, nothing but cheese and sauce. His “sandwich” was particularly lopsided, and there was a giant chunk of sauce-covered-cheese hanging off the side, which he decided to eliminate early on in the bout (a strategy I wish I’d chosen to employ) to make way for slightly more palatable bites later. Smart cookie, that one.
OH SHIT BACON what are you doing in there? Oh, right, you were on the marquee, what are you doing hiding somewhere in the interminable middle of the vaguely-food-flavored-sandwich item? Don’t you know you’re never going to make an impression in here? Seriously, even your own widely revered taste couldn’t possibly hope to hold up against the onslaught of grease and salt and spice and filth that is this… this… okay, I’ve run out of adjectives and synonyms to use to reference this shit. Let’s just call it the “bad thing” from here on out and be done with the verbal gymnastics. Anyway, bacon, why did you sign up for this glory-less tour of duty in the bad thing? Was there a giant stack of you about to go bad at the central warehouse where they process all this insanity, and the creators of the bad thing said “oh crap we are about to have to throw away all this miniature bacon oh noes” and so they decided to throw you into the middle of the nightmare shitstorm punishment that I’m now consuming? You deserve better than this, bacon. I love you, and I don’t want to see you this way. Let’s just pretend this never happened, okay? I’ll see you next time I go out for pancakes, and things’ll be cool, right? Right on, bacon. You the man.
Oh jeez I guess I should talk about what it tasted like huh – well okay, imagine nasty greasy fried chicken, cheese that should be melted but isn’t, some kind of half-assed flavored mayonnaise, and yeah I guess bacon was in there somewhere too but who could tell. That’s it, that’s what it tasted like. Somehow LESS than the sum of its parts. Because, don’t get me wrong people, I love fried chicken. And I sure love cheese. And spicy mayo, okay, maybe not ALWAYS, but sometimes it’s good. And clearly bacon and me are tight bros from way back when. So how do you combine a bunch of things that I love to create something that… jesus, “hate” doesn’t even begin to cover it. The best way I can think of to say it is… I am philosophically opposed to this sandwich. Here’s why:
1. Cheese should be melted in something that’s served hot. Why did that not happen.
2. Meat is not a bun. Sorry. Just isn’t.
3. It was so salty that my taste buds actually became numb after about two bites. Perhaps this was intentional.
4. Don’t disrespect bacon by relegating it to what, basically a garnish? Up yours. Bacon owns you, Colonel, clearly you’re afraid of it.
5. Eight dollars? Sorry, are you one of the most profitable fast-food franchises in human history or are you not? The fact that you have the gall to even open up one of your bullshit franchises in the same town as Gus’s is insulting enough to begin with, and to top it off you charge as much for this nonsense meal as it would cost to get enough Gus’s to feed you for the entire god damn day, which I cannot abide.
But, abide it or not, for completion’s sake I did eventually finish off this malevolent pile of insanity, bite by treacherous bite, although it took the better part of a half hour. Funny moment – there was a lady sitting a couple tables down from us who walked in after we’d already gotten our food and started the long, arduous process of working our way through this culinary punishment, and she ordered and consumed an entire double down meal and got up and left in probably half the time it took me and my friend Zach (two grown hungry adult men) to finish ours. Add to that, the fact (which didn’t dawn on me until about halfway through) that we were sitting about two tables away LOUDLY ridiculing the meal she had unironically chosen to pay for and consume as her lunch for that day – it actually started to make me feel guilty and awful on a dozen other levels, in addition to the physical and mental anguish that came along with eating the thing in the first place. Jesus christ, KFC Double Down, is there any part of my life that you’re NOT going to ruin?
Here’s Zach, attempting to document his end of the horror. If some of these pictures seem a little extra up close and personal, it’s because the tables at KFC were noticeably smaller than the already small tables at most other fast food establishments, and if we weren’t on such good terms with each other, it would have been much more difficult to suffer through this “food” with a partner.
And here’s my application for the clean plate club. That’s right, kids, I ate all of it. All the chicken flavored potato wedges, two chicken breasts, two pieces of unidentifiable “cheese,” whatever kind of sauce it was they chose to put in the middle of the of thing, and… uhhh… no bacon whatsoever. Bacon was never there. That never happened.
From Zach’s Twitter:
“There is a warmth and tightness spreading across my chest. This would be the Double Down messing w/ my blood pressure.”
And, my final thoughts.
Basically, this thing sucks and tastes like shit and is completely overpriced and the only reason you should ever eat it is morbid (and I emphasize morbid, because this will assuredly kill you, over time) curiosity about what it’s like. That being said, I would have to say it’s kind of emblematic of the whole “we seriously don’t care” attitude that most popular American food consumption kind of embodies (I mean we invented fake butter on movie theater popcorn, didn’t we – the Double Down was really only a few steps away) that makes a lot of people all over the world sick. We idolize people like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern for traveling all over the planet and drinking and eating things that freak us out (and rightly we should – those men are heroes) but you know what? On an average day in a Taiwanese street market, they’re eating better food than I did on this random stupid Tuesday afternoon, made with fresher ingredients, for substantially less money, and feeling 100x better afterwards.
What are we doing wrong?
Many thanks to Zach for another awesome bad idea, and thanks to the lady whose lunch we were mocking so openly for not calling us out as the condescending hipster pricks that we very possibly are, and thank you to my gastrointestinal system for not kicking this bullshit back out wholesale, and thank you all for reading. Stay tuned.