Friday Food Freak Out: F#@& You, KFC"/>
Of all the food news that has happened in the past couple weeks--from the naming of Food & Wine magazine's 2010 Best Chefs to the naming of Alinea as Chicago's best restaurant ever, from the closing of the last American sardine cannery to the closing of fast food franchises on American military bases in Afghanistan--nothing has gotten quite so much free ink as the roll-out of the new KFC heart-stopper: the Double Down.
Chicken has never been so pointlessly exciting...
The New York Times has written about it. The Wall Street Journal has written about it. I wrote about it myself, briefly, in a food porn round-up two weeks ago. CNN has reported on it at least twice (including a huge piece on the possible socio-economic impact of the KFC sandwich that actually used phrases like "annals of food history" and "Holy Grail").
When Sam Sifton, newly minted restaurant critic for the New York Times, announced that he was going to be eating a Double Down on a certain day of the week, an entire city mobilized--literally staking out every KFC in Manhattan just waiting to catch a snap of Sifton eating the aforementioned sandwich. Eater.com promptly posted them--just one of more than a half-dozen pieces they've posted about the Double Down. And news sources as diverse as Salon.com, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post and the Kankakee Daily Journal have all had their say, and that was all before The Atlantic went all double-meta by reporting only on the reporting about the Double Down. Clever, right?
No! For the love of all things holy, it is just a fucking piece of chicken, people. Well, two pieces, actually. With some (reportedly) terrible, cheap cheese, bacon and a squirt of goo they call "Colonel's Sauce" which, just writing it, makes me throw up in my mouth a little.
I get the attraction. I really do. The name is excellent, speaking to a certain gambler's instinct in those willing to eat at a KFC in the first place and making the Double Down seem edgy and vaguely dangerous. With its two pieces of fried chicken instead of bread, the Double Down appears to be some sort of terrible death-bomb of a sandwich, giving food writers everywhere cause to screech and moan and wail. But look... Purely in terms of calories and fat, a Double Down is arguably less bad for you than a Big Mac (460 calories and 23 grams of fat for the DD, 576 calories and 32.5 grams of fat for Mickey D's finest), so it'll actually kill your fat ass slower than a diet made up of nothing but Clown Burgers.
So can we all just take a breath here, please? The KFC Double Down should go down in history not as some benchmark of America's love affair with fat or a harbinger of the culinary End Times, but just as a brilliant example of mass marketing--a single food item which managed to hook the attentions or spark the ire of everyone from local bloggers to the biggest names in food. There is no greater significance to the Double Down. It does not herald a new age in America's suicidal nosedive towards lethal obesity or speak to the blowback from the current economic crisis or, really, mean anything.
It is just a goddamn sandwich, no more and no less. From what I understand (after having read about two dozen reviews of it already), it isn't even a very good sandwich. So if everyone could just unbunch their panties for a second and tone down the rhetoric to a notch below apocalyptic, maybe we can all focus on some important food news for a minute.
Like the fact that someone actually gave Emeril Lagasse another shot at his own TV show not having to do exclusively with cooking and shouting catch-phrases to an audience of Midwestern farm wives. On this one, apparently he dances.
And that, dear readers, truly is one of the signs of the end of the world.