To call KFC's new Double Down Original Recipe® creation a sandwich is an insult to the wheat-centric tradition America holds so dear. This is no standard sandwich, but a two-bird prom dance packed tight around a strip of bacon smothered in Colonel Sanders' magical awesome sauce.
It's a monster. It's like the Colonel is high-fiving your fat, juicy heart.
But at 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1380 mg's of Sodium, it's said to top competitors' offerings like McDonald's Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich and just about any meat-based Chipotle burrito. The Daily Beast slots it in at #23rd on their list of the unhealthiest fast-food items in America, noting it's "slightly worse than a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut, slightly better than a Bonus Jack double cheeseburger from Jack in the Box."
Still, this puppy is just a heartbeat away from going against the recommendations of the American Heart Association, which says one should "aim to eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day."
Asked to describe the sandwich in three words, Michael Hayes, my eating partner on the expedition and social media strategist from Queens said, "Every one should try this once. Only once, I don't want to meet the lunatic who goes back for seconds on the KFC Double Down."
But no matter!
Despite the strange side effects one may randomly encounter (shin splints and disorientation hit my group near Union Square) the first few bites of this salty chicklet were delicious! Yes, it's weird. Completely unnatural. I couldn't finish it and left the 14th Street KFC distracted by a curiously patient crowd.
But wait, let's go bite-by-bite.
The first taste I took, despite the five minutes that passed since it came off the hotrack, burned my mouth to bits. I must've somehow tripped a grease bomb that resulted in a piping hot teaspoon of bird juice being shot deep down my throat. Bird revenge, but that didn't stop me.
It's the next bite that's the money shot -- you bite slow, chew real tender, swish it around like a fine sip of 2007 Pinot Noir. Heck, close your eyes tight enough and this thing's as classy as wine & cheese. Move it around, feel it squeeze between the gaps of your teeth.
This is where you taste the chicken -- soft, tender strips of meat marinated in what must've been a hot tub-sized bucket of grease. Ignore that, stick with the branding. This is the double down, a "one-of-a-kind sandwich" with "two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets."
Yes, there's bacon. There's pepper jack cheese too. But this thing is a party for chickens and fast food-loving Americans are just simply along for the ride.
Halfway through the sandwich things start to get strange. The KFC-provided hashbrown case is falling apart with grease breakdown. The fries, once proudly hard and warm as a baked potato, have fallen silent and lie cold on my tray.
The Double Down sits alone, sunken and cross-legged in its cardboard box on the table. I take one more bite, but silence. The magic is gone. What's left is a lonely little chicken strip, broken in half and nearly tasteless.
I sit up, take my tray and lay it over the others who came before me. The trash can, long filled to the brim with discarded boxes, cups and shattered Double Down dreams, is packed full but not hoping for a change.
Like the great American dream born in KFC executive brainstorms in Louisville, Kentucky, it was nearly life changing, but is time to wake up and smell the juices. This "sandwich" -- most definitely deserving of the quotes -- is finished.
Still, I'll never forget that first bite.
The one coated in fryer juice, greasy yet stunningly delicious, and all the secondary bites that followed. I don't think I'll ever reach that high again. But lord knows, I'll never stoop so low.
The Double Down: Try it once. Seconds not recommended.