While fast food is almost always meant to be indulgent, there are the menu items that go beyond what a human being can reasonably consume and cross the line into heart attack-inducing.
Yum! Brands YUM franchise, Kentucky Fried Chicken has been the master at creating and marketing this type of product — from the fried chicken in-between two donuts “Zinger” and the flower bouquet where roses are interspersed with pieces of chicken launched in time for Mother’s Day.
Such items are, most often, limited-time offers designed primarily as promotional campaigns rather than something expected to bring in sales.
The outrageous nature of these promotions often helps them go viral on social media and does the chain’s marketing for it.
Remember The Double Down?
But occasionally, some items do find their audience and become cult favourites. One such product is KFC’s Double Down. While the chain technically brands it as a “sandwich,” the bread has been replaced by two pieces of fried chicken fillet used to hold bacon, cheese, and a mayo-style sauce.
KFC first announced that it was launching the Double Down on April 1, 2010. While many initially saw it as an April Fool’s Day prank, the sandwich became so popular that even late-night TV host Stephen Colbert ate one on his show.
In the next decade, the Double Down started appearing on everything from t-shirts to internet forums and was later brought to KFC menus in countries like Canada, Germany, Australia, and South Africa.
While the Double Down was later discontinued in the US, many fans still remember its greasy goodness and routinely clamor for its return. Some have even started Change.org petitions begging KFC to bring it back.
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KFC, in turn, regularly indulges its fans by bringing it back for limited-time offers in different countries. Canadian KFC chains saw it briefly in 2021, while the chain’s Italian branch also brought it back briefly last year.
Why Are People So Obsessed With This Sandwich?
The latest country to see and smell the Double Down is the faraway island nation of New Zealand, where local residents reported seeing it at several KFC stores in the region.
It is the same two pieces of fried chicken instead of bread “sandwich,” but this time, has an added gravy component.
The sauce is dubbed “Gravynaise,” or a mix of gravy and mayonnaise. Apparently, the country of New Zealand likes its gravy as its KFC menus already have the Gravy Burger which offers chicken, gravy, and hash browns on top of a roll.
If the Double Down sounds a bit too “extra” for you, that has always been the point of what would later become an industry trend born during the internet era.
This type of over-the-top sandwich was designed to elicit both disgust and “so crazy you have to try it”; above all, however, it is made to be reshared on the internet.
While not all have been equally successful, the Double Down served as a precursor for everything from Burger King to Restaurant Brands International (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc. Report‘s Mac-and-Cheetos to Pepsico (PEP) – Get PepsiCo Inc. Report‘s Pepsi-flavored pizza.
The goal is not so much sales as internet virality that keeps the chain’s name at the top of mind.
“These are part of a long tradition of companies creating new, slightly outrageous, fast food and snack food combinations – more cheese, more meat, more layers, adding sauces, [or] Cheetos, for crunch and a pop of flavor,” food historian Ashley Rose Young told BBC in 2019.