Tales of the Double Down: Maybe Not the Apocalypse After All

Someday, this will just be a greasy, uncomfortable memory
Oh, remember those heady days of two months ago when gigantic fried sandwiches ruled the earth and all food writers (myself at least partially included) were wailing that the End Times had finally come all because KFC had invented a sandwich made out of two patties of fried chicken?

Those were good times, weren't they? News anchors, radio personalities, late-night TV hosts and blog writers with deadlines to hit knew that they could always wring a few more hard jokes out of a massive, international fried chicken operation (Yum! Brands) that was trying to sell the world on the notion that a completely reasonable sandwich could be made out of two chicken patties fresh out of the Friolator, some cheese and a few strips of bacon. And people seemed happy to hear, in excruciating detail, about every twist and turn in the weird saga of the KFC Double Down--from the calorie counts to the weight of the thing to how it was going to be singularly responsible for turning anybody who ate one into one of those quasi-human sea cows from WALL-E, riding around all day in hover chairs because our fat little baby feet and chubby, diabetic legs would be too weak to carry around our bloated bodies.

So a funny thing happened between those wild days and now. It seems that the American dining public--never a people known for their restraint or good sense--loved reading about the Double Down, loved hearing jokes about the Double Down, loved talking about the Double Down, but just didn't really feel much like actually eating the Double Down.

According to a report on CNN Money yesterday, it seems that the Double Down, while a great marketing victory for KFC and Yum! Brands (it apparently generated more "buzz" than any test market item in the history of KFC), didn't turn out to be a big seller. Second-quarter earnings for KFC showed that the Double Down represented only 5% of overall sales for KFC--and a new product really has to crack the 10% mark before it can qualify as a success. Though KFC has sold something like 10 million of the sandwiches since its release, for a company that operates nearly 40,000 locations worldwide and sells a whole fuckton of chicken ("a whole fuckton" being a totally legitimate imaginary number commonly used by statisticians and those who tracks things like fast food sales or national debt calculations), a mere 10 million sandwiches hardly even tracks.

Which means that this is one of those rare moments in history when the American consumer actually looked into the abyss and turned away--an example of that rarest quality in the fast food target demographic: restraint. For all of us, the creation of the Double Down just appears to have crossed some kind of threshold past which the average consumer was not willing to tread.

But canned sandwiches, on the other hand? Or foot-long cheeseburgers? Yeah, we're totally down with that.

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