KFC's Latest Installment of Food Porn: Cue the Outrage

Last Updated Apr 5, 2010 4:52 PM EDT

Last week, pranksters went into overdrive, creating all kinds of clever April Fool's jokes, from Google changing its name to Topeka to McDonald's entire menu being declared "uncompostable." So it came as a shock to learn that news of KFC's (YUM) new sandwich, which consists of bacon and cheese oozing in "Colonel's sauce" and tucked between two pieces of fried chicken "bread," was actually no joke. Apparently they're really expecting us to eat this.

After a test last summer in Rhode Island and Nebraska, the fried chicken chain is rolling out this new -- dare we say -- food item nationwide on April 12th. Called the Double Down, it's already inspiring predictable howls of outrage. "Starts killing people on April 12th," declared one blog. Another called it a "monstrosity."

KFC will surely appear perturbed by all the criticism and they'll point to the fact that the sandwich, in what is surely a crowning achievement of modern food science, has only 540 calories (of course, it's got the entire salt shaker in there, with 1380 mg of sodium.) But you get the sense from KFC's marketing that they'd love nothing more than for the Center for Science in the Public Interest to hold a press conference denouncing the Double Down. Because if you're going to engineer a product designed to generate gobs of attention, you'd be hard pressed to do better than substituting fried chicken for bread.

Ads for the Double Down, which declare "It's Real!" in huge, all caps, suggest that KFC is in on the outrage. A little background: For more than five years, the chicken chain has been a fast food laggard struggling to revive its business. Things are so bad that KFC's parent company CEO publicly chastised the chain for weak sales and even weaker ideas. "Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are winning and KFC is losing," said CEO David Novak in 2008.

Simply put, KFC needs excitement and the Double Down is sure to deliver. After all, the strategy of flipping the middle finger at the nutrition police certainly worked well for the Monster Thickburger, which got Hardee's more free publicity than it knew what to do with (most memorably, Michael Jacobson of CSPI called it "food porn"). Sales soared.

Unfortunately for KFC though, there's one big difference between the Thickburger and the Double Down -- Hardee's creation closely resembles a recognizable food product. The Double Down resembles something your kid might come up with if left alone with a fridge full of leftovers. Beyond the novelty, it's hard to see how customers are going to flock to this one.

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