Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop





What I Ate: April 21, 2010 (KFC's Double Down)

Posted 21 April, 2010 at 9:26pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate)

Dinner: After my HOA meeting, I drove over to KFC to try their new sandwich - the Double Down. The Double Down has two pieces of fried chicken breast (also available with grilled chicken) instead of buns and sandwiched in between is a slice of cheese, a couple of thin strips of bacon, and some secret sauce of some sort. The sandwich was pretty decent but I didn't much care for the sauce. I felt the fried chicken went well with the bacon (although I would have preferred some tastier bacon instead of the super thin yet limp bacon that fast food places always seem to serve) and cheese, but the sauce was a bit too salty and I didn't much care for the slight sourness to it.
KFC - Double Down

There's been a lot of stuff written about the burger and how it's a "heart attack" waiting to happen, but it is my belief that most of these "articles" have been written because it's low hanging fruit. I mean, if you describe this sandwich to anyone, it has to sound like it's the most unhealthy thing in the world, right? So, these reporters jump on this since it's an easy story to write. Unfortunately, it's a bit misleading. The Double Down is no more worse for you than a bacon cheeseburger or a Big Mac or your typical restaurant ordered Chicken Caesar Salad. I put together a quick and dirty comparison chart of some of the published nutrition information for your comparison.
KFC - Double Down

The Double Down has 540 calories (290 from fat), 32 g fat (10 saturated, 0.5 trans), 145 mg cholesterol, 1380 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar, and 53 g protein.

KFC Double Down McDonald's Big Mac Typical Bacon
Subway Cold Cut
Trio Footlong
Typical Caesar
calories 540 563 595 880 900
  (from fat) 290 295 299 378 640
fat 32 33 33 42 71
  saturated 10 8 13 14 13
  trans 0.5 1 2 0 0
cholesterol 145 79 105 110 110
sodium 1380 1007 1422 3360 1740
carbohydrates 11 44 40 94 28
  dietary fiber 1 4 3 8 6
  sugars 1 9 10 12 unknown
protein 53 26 33 42 37

As you can see, the numbers aren't all that bad. Sure, it's high in sodium and cholesterol (but that's because it's quite a bit of chicken - essentially a whole half breast) but the calories and fat aren't in the instant heart attack range. It's just the idea of replacing hamburger buns for fried chicken makes it sound so bad.

Lunch: I had a bowl of Nong Shim Seafood Ramyun which Tina cooked with Napa cabbage and added a water bath soft boiled (65°C) egg.
Nong Shim Seafood Ramen with a poached egg

14 comments to What I Ate: April 21, 2010 (KFC's Double Down)

Nate, April 21st, 2010 at 10:13 pm:

  • I think I'd go for an In-n-Out Animal Style burger instead.

Michael Chu, April 21st, 2010 at 10:42 pm:

  • An In-N-Out Double Double is 670 calories (370 from fat), 41 g fat (18 g saturated, 1 trans), 120 mg cholesterol, 1440 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrates (3 g fiber, 10 g sugars), and 37 g protein. But, I'd never call that in "instant heart attack", I'd call it a good meal!

Dennis, April 22nd, 2010 at 8:34 am:

David, April 22nd, 2010 at 12:17 pm:

  • I’m calling shenanigans on the “540 calories” thing. There is just no way that’s all the calories it has. Every analysis I've seen of the merits of the “sandwich” uses that number as gospel. I’d really like to know how they arrived at it.


Michael Chu, April 22nd, 2010 at 2:59 pm:

  • The sandwich isn't made with two half breasts. It's closer to a half breast that's been sliced longitudinally, but I suspect that the total amount of breast is less than your typical KFC breast piece since there's no "breast tender". I don't think you can use the same values as two fried chicken breasts. This is a mistake easily made since in all the advertisements and photos it's not clear, but it's pretty obvious when you have the sandwich in your hands that the total chicken size isn't as big as a single half breast piece.

    I really don't feel like buying another one and weighing the pieces (that would also involve weighing a typical KFC breast piece to figure out what percentage the breast pieces in the Double Double are compared to the KFC breast and then estimate based on that).

David, April 22nd, 2010 at 3:17 pm:

  • You are a better man than I for trying one in the first place.

    They just look nasty. They might not be nasty. But they look damn nasty.

    I'm not even sure the weight thing would cut it. I would guess that many of the calories come not from the meat but from the fried breading and, despite their smaller thickness, the amount of breading would remain virtually the same.

    Cooking for engineers rocks! Keep up the good work.

Michael Chu, April 22nd, 2010 at 3:42 pm:

  • According to the USDA Nutrient database, the breading only adds an extra g of fat and 20 extra calories when compared against a roasted chicken breast.

    While looking this up, I realized a bigger flaw in the analysis performed by cityrag.com - the breast meat in the Double Double is skinless. Again, something you wouldn't be able to tell unless you had one in front of you - but most of the fat is from the slice of cheese and dollop of sauce. The fried chicken probably only contributes 5 g of fat or so since it's fried skinless chicken breast slices.

RobM, April 23rd, 2010 at 8:37 am:

  • Is it a large chicken breast butterflied and stuffed, perhaps?

    I have to say it doesn't appeal to me, but as for the people going on about it… I can't help but thinking "everything in moderation".

David, April 23rd, 2010 at 10:33 am:

  • Damn interesting fact about the breading. I would have guessed it was more. Learn something new every day I suppose.

Scott, April 23rd, 2010 at 10:43 am:

  • Here was a review I wrote:

    Friend of mine dared me to down a "Double Down."

    Verdict: Could have been actually tasty, but it's too bad they made something THIS unhealthy this bad!

    I mean…how can you f*** up fried chicken, bacon, cheese and "sauce"?

    I'll tell you how.

    The sauce had no flavor except salt.
    The bacon had no smokey flavor…just salty.
    The cheese didn't get properly melty. Just got sweaty, and it stuck out everywhere.

    But the worst part was the chicken. For this to work, you'd have to have a hearty breading/coating with some crunch. The coating/breading was too sparse. There were bare spots. The chicken itself was juicy (too juicy for sandwich "bun" duty and had decent flavor, but it was too thick. Normally thick isn't an issue but when it's in sandwich form, it is just too thick. Put two of them together and it makes it a really large, dense bite.

    Put them all together, and it's even less than the sum of it's sub-par parts.

    And now I've got a sodium overdose headache, a stomach ache and I'm sure, later, I'll be in the bathroom longer than usual.

Optimista, April 23rd, 2010 at 8:02 pm:

  • What I find amazing is that it has less carbs than even a CAESAR SALAD. That, to me, speaks volumes.

an engineer that likes real food, April 25th, 2010 at 1:22 pm:

  • imo, the double down is just a big f you response to the Food Inc, Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, etc movement going on now. This is nearly the exact opposite of Pollan's "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Michael Chu, April 25th, 2010 at 11:02 pm:

  • I think KFC just wanted to come up with their equivalent to the bacon cheeseburger. I don't think it's by accident that everything except carb and protein counts come it very close to a quarter-pound patty with bacon and cheese.

    I think the real "f you" response came a while ago from Carl's Jr. when burgers are sold that outperform milk shakes in calories and fat…

Scott, April 26th, 2010 at 8:17 pm:

  • And aren't even all beef except for their Six-Dollar line…