Saturday, April 17, 2010

Double Down - KFC’s Revolutionary Meat and Cheese Delivery System

Kudos to KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken, now rebranded as Kitchen Fresh Chicken or just KFC – much healthier) for coming up with the season’s hottest new fast food product. Everyone’s talking about it: the Double Down sandwich. The Double Down is a bacon and cheese sandwich. But what makes it revolutionary is that the two pieces of bread that heretofore positively defined what it meant to be a sandwich have been replaced with two slabs of breaded, deep fried chicken. Awesome.

Sandwich technology has changed very little since sandwiches were first invented around 230 AD. What’s been stuffed between the bread has morphed incrementally with shifts in taste and style. But the underlying mechanism – two pieces of bread holding together some interior ingredients – has remained more or less the same for millennia.

The KFC scientists who came up with the revolutionary Double Down concept may have gotten their inspiration from a ten year old Jack In The Box (California fast food chain) advertisement. Jack in the Box’s spokesman is a guy with a ping pong ball for a head. In the ad, circa 1997, Jack in the Box was conducting a focus group study where people were talking about its new burger – the Meat-N-Cheese burger. Nothing but meat. And cheese. The people in the focus group were saying how much they liked the meat and the cheese, but that maybe they should get rid of the bun. The ping pong ball head guy stormed angrily into the room and berated everyone, saying “if we got rid of the bun, you’d get MEAT and CHEESE all over your hands.”

The ad was a joke, but maybe the joke was on them. Having a sandwich without bread seemed at the time like a violation of some natural law. But maybe the seed had been planted for someone to shatter the dominant paradigm. Jack in the Box may have just been too rigid and set in its ways. (It may also have been sidetracked by a more pressing public relations situation – the fact that they had distributed a million bumper stickers with their logo that said “Eat Meat,” 997,750 of which were instantly cut down to read “Eat Me.” That was a fun time to be in California).

One of the fundamental challenges confronting fast food science has always been how to maximize the number of calories that can be crammed into a person’s face in one bite. The average human orifice circumference is a constant, at least until mainstream society comes to accept surgical procedures that let people temporarily unhinge their jaws, or African hoop kinds of contraptions that would, over the years, slowly expand the size of a person’s mouth. And so the only way to meet the continually higher American demand for caloric inputs is to increase the calories per cubic centimeter of the food. The formula looks something like this:


(where: CCC = calories per cubic centimeter; MOC = mean orifice circumference; and AIMC = aggregate intake per mastication cycle).

The brilliance of the KFC invention was in realizing a fundamental inefficiency in the existing delivery platform technology: the bread in the sandwich was just wasted space. By making one simple adjustment – replacing the bun with deep fried chicken – the CCC element of the equation could be increased tenfold and consumers could be delivered the higher caloric input they demanded without any extra volume (and without the attendant negative externality of increased chewing requirements). Delivery of meat and cheese via fried chicken! The heightened efficiencies were astounding!

I haven’t actually tried the Double Down yet (I will, right after I check out Dunkin Donut’s new chicken parmesan flatbread sandwich), but I would think that grabbing fried chicken with your hands would be a little sloppy. KFC’s probably come up with some kind of Monsanto engineered coating that gives the fried chicken a freshly baked sesame bun-type tactile feel, and that lets you eat the Double Down while driving, without getting grease all over your BlackBerry.

All that remains now is for KFC to get people out buying the Double Down. The challenge is one of getting people to let their ids take over their egos. The dominant social mindset in the year 2010 is all about healthy living and moderation and exercise. But while everyone has some vague feeling that they should cut back and eat smart and all that, they still, at their core, want to binge out on fat, greasy, cheesy, deep fried piles of ambiguous animal flesh. KFC’s Double Down ad actors are perfect – good-natured, good-looking friendly faces letting the world know that it’s OK if a super sized Whopper meal isn’t enough to leave you satisfied. Unleash the id! Eat the sandwich of the future! Wrap your fixins in fried chicken! Nothing could be more natural!

Only time will tell how important an innovation the Double Down will prove to be. The best thing since (and substitution for) sliced bread? Or the last straw in inflating Americans to the point of collapse? In the meantime, I can’t wait to go get my hands on a tasty fried chicken fast food bacon receptacle.


CWhittaker said...

Just to be fair, you can get the Double Down with grilled chicken. Having had it, it is not the be all, end all calorie bomb addiction that the McGriddle and its Dunkin Donut cousin are.

Alek o. said...

The Double Down, and the KFC Famous Bowls are proof that all of our high school teachers and guidence counselors were wrong- There is a future / job for Potheads in corporate America- specifically in fast/junk food R&D.....

Unknown said...

Dan, you better be careful, otherwise you might have a heart attack right in the middle of the Fargo marathon. Do you think the Greek marathoners ate Double Downs? And, yes, I am related to your grandmother.

gauche knees in a hankie said...

Not to be nitpicky, but clearly, by dimensional analysis,


should actually be... See More


While this should in no way detract from your thesis, it does suggest that in their quest to maximize AIMC, fast food corporations should also be taking serious interest in promoting MOC endowment in the populace -- for in the long term, there is great potential for AIMC gains therein. Your accompanying stock photo suggests that some such may already be afoot. It would be interesting to explore emerging synergisms between oral plastic surgery, the porn industry, and fast food.
about an hour ago

craig said...

Hmmm chicken