So, I'm totally blaming my BlogHer editor for this one. I pitched a piece about how reTweeting and facebook status-ing New York Times writer Sam Sifton's "Eater Beware!" piece on the KFC Double Down was out, and people posting about trying this breadless mess of chicken, bacon, and cheese was in.
I called it the "KFC Double Dare," and I wanted to draw particular attention to Will Edmondson's humorous video at Sling, the Serious Eats peeps with their various reviews and recipe, as well as Mark Morford's reaction on HuffPo and Francis Lam's reaction on Salon. I also thought it was interesting that I had yet to read a piece from a woman taking the KFC Double Dare. (Don't worry, I'm not about to get all dissect-y about that particular fact, I just found it curious.)
My editor turned my pitch back on me and asked if I was willing to try the Double Down and post my reaction. D'oh! Well, I guessed I walked right into that mess.
First of all, to get a few full disclosures out of the way:
1. I have nothing against fast food. I see no shame in admitting that I have a lifelong love for McDonald's Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, and humble cheeseburgers.
2. I've never been a KFC person, so that might have already prejudiced me against this particular product. I find their food bowls completely repulsive and yes, I think the idea and execution of the Double Down is just as stomach-turning.
3. I have recently lost my appetite. No, not today, and not conveniently because I agreed to get paid to try the Double Down. I don't know exactly why I lost my appetite over the last two weeks, but I have, and it's only fair to come clean about it.
4. Unlike when I went to Manresa, I'm really, really, REALLY not looking forward to this tasting.
Meanwhile, I put out the call on Twitter, asking if there were any other Double Down-eating chicks out there and got hooked up with Dottie, a fried chicken lover. Dottie actually seemed to have somewhat high hopes for the Double Down and said, "Chicken instead of bread, people. It was so wrong, it was right." However, when she learned what I was planning to do, Dottie cautioned me over email, "I don't recommend trying it unless you were really drunk or really hungover."
Dottie's Double Down post on What's New, Pussycat? also includes her Tweets that hysterically go from, "This might be the best hangover food created" to "Not dead." Dottie concludes, "Also, this is a dude sandwich. I can't imagine a lot of women that would eat it. Or at least not admitting to eating it."
Texas Annie told me over Twitter, "I ate a Double Down yesterday. It was salty and messy, and that's about it. Don't think I'd do it again."
My husband's reaction when I emailed him my request was, "Oh, dear god..." and my friend Kristen told me I wasn't giving the chickenwich (TM Dottie) a fair shake if I didn't eat it inside a KFC. Not ever planning on eating it herself, Kristen went on at length about how time, temperature, and relevant crispiness could be crucial to my enjoyment of it. I maintained that nothing, but NOTHING, was going to make this an enjoyable experience.
Hysterically, when my husband placed the order, he was asked, "Do you want that Original or grilled?" My husband asked, "Wait, is 'Original' fried?" The KFC-er looked shocked he would use the f-word in KFC, and then quietly said, "Yes."
Chickenwich home, I actually stifled a gag as I unwrapped the horrid, damp thing. I had a glass of water at the ready to wash my single bite down. Aside from the two fried chicken breasts, a SINGLE slice of bacon lay asphyxiated under the droopy anemic slab of anonymous white cheese. It was not Pepper Jack by any stretch of the imagination. (One slice of bacon and no Pepper Jack -- what's with the quality control, KFC?!) There was only the faintest smear of Colonel's Sauce on it. I poked at the thing a few times -- definitely not crispy -- before wrapping my hands around it and plunging in for my single bite.
It...wasn't bad? I agree with everyone who says it's salty and messy, but I was definitely expecting a far more disgusting experience in that one, single bite. And then I took a few more bites. You know, for informational purposes.
In the end, while I definitely did not finish it, the Double Down isn't the worst thing I've ever eaten. (Probably the worst for me, though.) That said, I will never get it again. Aside from salt and some faint spice from the smidge of sauce, the entire flavor is pretty one-note. Unlike a Big Mac, the Double Down is not nuanced enough for me to crave it. Plus, while the actual ingestion didn't make me vomit, the idea of the Double Down still makes me want to.
Thank god I'm going on an uphill multi-mile hike this weekend.
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