[Editor’s Note – This column originally ran on the site on April 14, 2010. With the Double Down returning to KFC, we are bringing it back from the vault.]
“Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him.”
– Henry Miller
There are moments in life when average men are called to greatness. David was just another unassuming villager before he hoisted up that sling and slew Goliath. Jim Larranaga was a no-name basketball coach at George Mason before his path took him on an improbable Cinderella run to the Final Four. Thomas Anderson was an unhappy computer programmer until destiny handed him a red pill, transforming him into Neo, the savior of Zion.
Yesterday, I received my call to greatness. My battlefield: KFC. The enemy: The Double Down. Two hunks of bacon and two thick slices of Monterey Jack cheese smothered in the Colonel’s “secret sauce” and wedged between two thick pieces of fried chicken. No bread, no vegetables. Just an artery-clogging amalgamation of meat and cheese forged by Lucifer himself.
Like all great battles, I knew that even if I emerged victorious, I would forever be changed by the experience. The damage, both emotional and physical, would linger on long after the last bite reached my lips. Sure, the stomach cramps I experienced yesterday evening faded away with time, but the emotional scars and irreparable damage to my arteries never will.
So why square off against Double D? I do it for all of you – the nervous eaters with sensitive stomachs, the “just a salad” folks watching their figures as bathing suit season looms and those poor, misguided vegans so desperate for a taste of the Double Down that they’ve concocted their own meatless version. Sure, outwardly you may scoff at this monstrosity as all that is wrong with our overweight, entitled society, but deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want to know what it tastes like. You want to eat one for the same reason Eve plucked that bright red apple from the Tree of Knowledge, knowing full well she was dooming all of humanity in doing so – because it just looks so damn tasty.
But you can’t. You lack the intestinal fortitude to handle this malicious marriage of meat and cheese. Your stomachs are too delicate, your abs too washboardy. This was my cross to bear. I was called upon to eat the sandwich that others cannot. Like Mikey from Swingers sitting on an 11, it was simply my time to Double Down.
As I defiantly marched into the KFC, signs and billboards taunted me with glossy, high res shots of my opponent. The woman behind the counter was cheerful enough, but beneath her pleasant demeanor and portly exterior, I sensed apprehension. Sure, she claimed to eat Double Downs for breakfast, but I know that her false bravado was only there to help quash my fears.
I carried my tray over to an empty booth; the Double Down flanked by a medium Coke and a side of potato wedges. As I began to size up my opponent from inside his plastic container, a crowd of gawker and onlookers began to form. I won’t say it was exactly like the final scene of Field of Dreams, but it was close enough.
The first thing I noticed was its size. It was larger than I had imagined. The chicken patties weren’t simply normal KFC strips; they were thick, juicy slices of breast meat. And while part of me was disgusted at the sight of this abomination, I couldn’t help but think how tasty it looked. The corner of the Monterey Jack slices, coated ever so slightly with special sauce, poked out of the corner of the sandwich, beckoning to me like ancient sirens seeking out forlorn sailors. The bacon was nowhere to be seen – a hidden treasure wrapped in meat just waiting to be discovered by my hungry lips.
I hefted the behemoth to my mouth and bit in. The first bite was overwhelmingly chicken with just a hint of the special sauce. The cheese was overpowered and the bacon, sadly, was still nowhere to be found. Still, the chicken was delicious and, having struck my first blow to my opponent, I was now more determined than ever to press forward. Subsequent bites led me further down the rabbit hole. The bacon finally emerged and the cheese, which had begun to melt, finally began to play a larger role in the flavor explosion erupting inside my mouth. Although I must admit, the bacon never played as big a role as I had hoped it would. It was content to be merely a bit player, a mostly casual observer in this epic food fight.
I made short work of the sandwich, knowing that the longer the battle waged on, the more the scales tipped in favor of my worthy opponent. In no time, the Double Down, the side of wedges and the tasty beverage were all consumed. The crowd let out a cheer as I took my final bite – the only remnants of war on my tray were empty containers and a plethora of grease-stained napkins.
I left KFC feeling as though I had won. The sandwich had proved to be a much easier, tastier foe than I had imagined. Little did I know that the war was still raging on inside my stomach. Over the next few hours, stomach cramps and lethargy washed over me. My only option was a nap.
At this point, surely you must be wondering if it was worth it. I set out to sample a deadly sandwich so that all of you don’t have to. I sacrificed myself to the fast food gods so that all of you could be spared the pain. But did I enjoy the sandwich? And would I ever wage war against a Double Down again? The answer, my friends, is yes.
Now, this is not a battle that I will seek out anytime soon. In fact, I hope it is months, if not years, before I ever cross paths with a Double Down again. But let it be known, if fate should decide to pit us against each other in an inevitable sequel, I will be ready to slay the sandwich a second time. I just hope next time it brings more bacon.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.