The KFC Double Down: This Is Why the Terrorists Hate Our Freedom (Version A)


Some weeks ago, I was startled by a surging news item that I thought couldn’t possibly be real. There was this video — a YouTube video, in fact, and I know how reliable those tend to be — that someone took of a television advertisement. It’s grainy and the sound is high-pitched and tinny, but still, there it was: If this ad was to be believed, Kentucky Fried Chicken was now going to sell a bacon and cheese sandwich that featured two thick slabs of fried chicken instead of bread. They call it the “Double Down.” I assumed the name to be a playful take on what happens to your lifespan after eating one of these monstrosities. It was outrageous. It was hilarious. It couldn’t honestly be real. I was dubious, but then again, this is KFC I'm talking about here. This is the same restaurant chain that comic Patton Oswalt scathingly lampooned, likening their most popular dish — a tub filled with seemingly every KFC menu item covered in cheese and gravy — to a “failure pile in a sadness bowl.” But a bowl of food I can understand, if not order for myself. A mountainous double fistful of fried chicken, bacon, cheese and sauce, on the other hand, seemed so egregious as to defy human comprehension.

I was convinced that this must be some sort of comedic hoax. After all, it wasn’t long ago that I saw Saturday Night Live’s introduction of the “ pizza crepe pancake taco chili bag” at the fictitious Taco Town. Even closer to the bone was Tracy Morgan’s character on 30 Rock attempting to make some quick product endorsement cash by hawking the Tracy Jordan Meat Machine, a Foreman Grill-type appliance that melts any three meats together into “one delicious food ball,” assuring that no one will ever again “have to suffer through the bread portion of your meal.” Of course the Double Down, like the Meat Machine, was a goof. Or perhaps this could actually be one of the most spectacular moments ever of life imitating art. Either way, something crazy and maybe a little unsettling was going on here.

Then came the confirmation. The KFC Double Down was being test marketed in two American cities: Omaha, Nebraska and Providence, Rhode Island. It was real! Depending on point of view, humankind had finally reached either the apex or the nadir of fast food. I know there are more than a few people out there, much like the three (athletic and trim for some reason) hungry guys in KFC’s ad that have just been waiting for someone to unleash a twelve hundred calorie fried chicken nuclear weapon unto the American masses, but I got the feeling that somewhere, in a cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, Colonel Harland Sanders was spinning in his grave like a dervish on meth.

I’m not naive. I've all known for a long time, much before Super Size Me showed Morgan Spurlock nearing liver failure because of an all McDonald’s diet, that fast food isn’t particularly good for my health. And I’m not going after eateries either for sophisticated culinary maximalism, or for the kind of crazily ambitious food architecture that wins you a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records (like this recent addition). Those are separate subjects, entirely. What I’m talking about is the shift, in recent years, whereby the big fast food chains have begun inventing, marketing and promoting bigger, badder and more insanely calorific sandwiches than at any point in American history. It’s kind of like a Cold War arms race, only instead of intercontinental ballistic missiles, there are sandwiches with enough caloric content to nourish the entire population of a modest-sized, mid-Pacific archipelago. When Ray Croc opened his first McDonald’s hamburger restaurant (and for many years after), the signature hamburger was the size of the one still on the menu today, which seems ludicrously tiny compared to its brontosaurus-sized cousins, notably the double quarter pounder with cheese, weighing in at a beastly 730 calories, whereas the original burger, even with cheese, clocks in at a skimpy 310. And that is nothing compared to the BK Quad Stacker, Wendy’s Classic Triple with Cheese, or the infamous Hardee’s Monster Thickburger. Forget food porn; this is food weaponry.

In no other country, on any other part of the planet, will you find such egregious stockpiling of low-quality protein in a single menu item. I mean, even amidst the Spurlocks and the Michael Pollans and Eric Schlossers out there showing us how we’re destroying ourselves by eating not just bad meat, but doing so in epic proportions, there’s still both a demand and a supply for a 1400 calorie sandwich. I adore hamburgers. Even the president and the First Lady enjoy a good burger — a FLOTUS, I might add, who advocates whole, healthy foods and even set up an organic vegetable garden on White House property. But why can’t people realize that a hamburger the size of a human head isn’t necessarily going to be as tasty as a more modest sized sandwich? Because this is America, dammit, and if this country has learned anything by being the most powerful nation in the world, it’s that quantity will always trump quality. Some egg-head tells me I should eat only four or five ounces of meat at a meal? Must be a socialist! A freedom-hating, pinko queer! He can eat his tiny tofu Commie salad in Canada; but me, I’m a patriotic, flag-waving American, and I’d sooner go to war than put down my artery-destroying quadruple cardiac detonation burger. You can pry it out of my cold, dead hands along with my assault rifle, my Hummer keys and my porn. Or so the rationale goes.

Here’s a thought: I wonder how much meat a terrorist in the mountains of Afghanistan probably gets to enjoy. I’m guessing very little. Yet here's America, advertising sandwiches big enough to choke a manatee. And people wonder why the terrorists hate American freedom? Maybe it’s because this is what it has turned into.

But enough political philosophy for now. All of a sudden, I’m hungry for chicken.

The KFC Double Down: This Is Why the Terrorists Hate Our Freedom (Version B)


Some weeks ago, I was startled by a surging news item that I thought couldn’t possibly be real. There was this video — a YouTube video, in fact, and we all know how reliable those tend to be — that someone took of a television advertisement. It’s grainy and the sound is high-pitched and tinny, but still, there it was: If this ad was to be believed, Kentucky Fried Chicken was now going to sell a bacon and cheese sandwich that featured two thick slabs of fried chicken instead of bread. They call it the “Double Down.” I assumed the name to be a playful take on what happens to your lifespan after eating one of these monstrosities. It was outrageous. It was hilarious. It couldn’t honestly be real…could it? I was dubious, but then again, this is KFC we’re talking about here. This is the same restaurant chain that comic Patton Oswalt scathingly lampooned, likening their most popular dish — a tub filled with seemingly every KFC menu item covered in cheese and gravy — to a “failure pile in a sadness bowl.” But a bowl of food I can understand, if not order for myself. A mountainous double fistful of fried chicken, bacon, cheese and sauce, on the other hand, seemed so egregious as to defy human comprehension.

I was convinced that this must be some sort of comedic hoax. After all, it wasn’t long ago that we saw Saturday Night Live’s introduction of the “ pizza crepe pancake taco chili bag” at the fictitious Taco Town. Even closer to the bone was Tracy Morgan’s character on 30 Rock attempting to make some quick product endorsement cash by hawking the Tracy Jordan Meat Machine, a Foreman Grill-type appliance that melts any three meats together into “one delicious food ball,” assuring that you won’t ever again “have to suffer through the bread portion of your meal.” Of course the Double Down, like the Meat Machine, was a goof. Or could this actually be one of the most spectacular moments ever of life imitating art? Either way, something crazy and maybe a little unsettling was going on here.

Then came the confirmation. The KFC Double Down was being test marketed in two American cities: Omaha, Nebraska and Providence, Rhode Island. It was real! Depending on your point of view, we had finally reached either the apex or the nadir of fast food. I know there are more than a few people out there, much like the three (athletic and trim for some reason) hungry guys in KFC’s ad that have just been waiting for someone to unleash a twelve hundred calorie fried chicken nuclear weapon unto the American masses, but I got the feeling that somewhere, in a cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, Colonel Harland Sanders was spinning in his grave like a dervish on meth.

Please note: I’m not naive. We’ve all known for a long time, much before Super Size Me gave us Morgan Spurlock nearing liver failure because of an all McDonald’s diet, that fast food isn’t particularly good for one’s health. And I’m not going after eateries either for sophisticated culinary maximalism, or for the kind of crazily ambitious food architecture that wins you a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records (like this recent addition). Those are separate subjects, entirely. What I’m talking about is the shift, in recent years, whereby the big fast food chains have begun inventing, marketing and promoting bigger, badder and more insanely calorific sandwiches than at any point in American history. It’s kind of like a Cold War arms race, only instead of intercontinental ballistic missiles, we have sandwiches with enough caloric content to nourish the entire population of a modest-sized, mid-Pacific archipelago. When Ray Croc opened his first McDonald’s hamburger restaurant (and for many years after), the signature hamburger was the size of the one we still see on the menu today, which seems ludicrously tiny compared to its brontosaurus-sized cousins, notably the double quarter pounder with cheese, weighing in at a beastly 730 calories, whereas the original burger, even with cheese, clocks in at a skimpy 310. And that, friends, is nothing compared to the BK Quad Stacker, Wendy’s Classic Triple with Cheese, or the infamous Hardee’s Monster Thickburger. Forget food porn; this is food weaponry.

My question, seeing this insane exercise in hamburger escalation, is: What the hell is wrong with us? In no other country, on any other part of the planet, will you find such egregious stockpiling of low-quality protein in a single menu item. I mean, even amidst the Spurlocks and the Michael Pollans and Eric Schlossers out there showing us how we’re destroying ourselves by eating not just bad meat, but doing so in epic proportions, there’s still both a demand and a supply for a 1400 calorie sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, I adore hamburgers. Even the president and the First Lady enjoy a good burger — a FLOTUS, I might add, who advocates whole, healthy foods and even set up an organic vegetable garden on White House property. But why can’t people realize that a hamburger the size of your head isn’t necessarily going to be as tasty as a more modest sized sandwich? Because we’re Americans, dammit, and if we’ve learned anything by being the most powerful nation in the world, it’s that quantity will always trump quality. Some egg-head tells me I should eat only four or five ounces of meat at a meal? Must be a socialist! A freedom-hating, pinko queer! He can eat his tiny tofu Commie salad in Canada; but me, I’m a patriotic, flag-waving American, and I’d sooner go to war than put down my artery-destroying quadruple cardiac detonation burger. You can pry it out of my cold, dead hands along with my assault rifle, my Hummer keys and my porn. Or so the rationale goes.

Here’s a thought: Do you know how much meat a terrorist in the mountains of Afghanistan probably gets to enjoy? I’m guessing very little. Yet here we are, advertising sandwiches big enough to choke a manatee. And we wonder why the terrorists hate our freedom? Maybe it’s because this is what we’ve thought to do with it.

But enough political philosophy for now. All of a sudden, I’m hungry for chicken.

KFC Post Reflection


Version A has no sense of community. It feels like Scott (the blogger) is talking down on all Americans without including himself. He is an American, but in this post, especially version A, he doesn't include himself in the group. Version B has almost constant use of "we" and "us" and includes rhetorical questions using those words. Version B is still critical of America's fast food culture, but he is including himself in it a little more readily.

Bourbon and Barbecue: The Ultimate BFF Pair (Version A)


There’s a television advertisement I remember from my youth: Two ranch hands are hanging out on the corral, snacking, when one of them, in an inept attempt to mount his steed, flips over the saddle and spills his treat. “My chocolate!” he laments, to which the other counters, “is in my peanut butter!” It’s not long before the two men realize that, as in the case of Newton’s apple, Archimedes’s bathtub, and Alexander Flemming’s famous mold, they’d landed in the lap of genius by way of pure serendipity. Yes: Chocolate! Peanut Butter! Gadzooks, why didn’t anyone think about combining these things before?!?!

In the land of meat and drink, there are pairings that seldom fail to please: A robust Cabernet with a thick NY strip; bacon and eggs with coffee; spicy Texas-style chili with cold beer; a glass of sweet Sauternes and seared fois gras. I love all of these, deeply and with gusto. However, for me the ultimate pairing of beast and beverage, without a doubt, is bourbon and barbecue. Amidst all the myriad combinations of food and spirits there’s something sublimely gratifying about a good glass of whiskey and a plate of expertly glazed Memphis short ribs, sliced Texas beef brisket or pulled pork with North Carolina vinegar sauce. My love for all things bourbon and BBQ is as strong as the mighty Mississippi, even as strong perhaps as these fine gentlemen, who’ve compiled a comprehensive and finely harmonized guide to the various styles of barbecue throughout the Southern United States: The Barbecue Song

I’ve thought about this delicious duo often and fondly, especially since I moonlight behind the bar at Brooklyn’s Char no. 4, a restaurant dedicated to purveying not only refined Southern American fare (including barbecue, naturally), but also its vast array of American whiskeys, upwards of 150 strong. And after much meditation, I’ve discovered a number of reasons that the bourbon and BBQ connection is so naturally gratifying. First is the regional connection. Bourbon and American-style barbecue were both invented in the South, and, in the epicurean world, it’s almost always a good idea to pair food with drink that comes from the same basic geographical region. Speaking of which, both of these delights are quintessentially American, especially bourbon, which was declared America’s dedicated spirit by federal law. (A resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1964 declared bourbon to be a “distinctive product of the United States.) Hence, combining a nice glass of Pappy Van Winkle with a carefully tended low-and-slow pork butt, you’re engaging in something of a patriotic act. God bless America!

Then, of course, is the matter of flavor pairings. Since it’s made up of mostly corn — a minimum of 51%, by law — bourbon has a characteristic sweetness to it that marries perfectly with taste profiles of many barbecue sauces. More importantly, though, is the fact that bourbon is matured in a new, charred oak barrel. Over time, the whiskey picks up color and flavor from the charred wood, so that the finished product possesses a richness and complexity that does nothing if not bring out the accents of maple and smoke that make truly great barbecue such a magical thing to savor. Also to note: bourbon is traditionally a sipping spirit; one’s meant to take his or her time with a glass, to enjoy it langorously rather than just knocking it back like a shot of Jagermeister at the college sports bar, much in the same way good BBQ should be both prepared and appreciated: slowly, thoughtfully, and, yes, with love. Shoveling it all in as quickly as possible? We’ll leave that to the yankees, thank you very much.

Another wonderful thing about bourbon is that, unlike most other spirits, it functions splendidly as both an aperitif and a digestive. A nice glass of something smooth, a wheated bourbon such as Maker’s Mark or W.L. Weller Special Reserve, say, kicks the appetite into first gear, so that by the time your rib rack arrives, you’re ready to go to town. At the other end of the meal, once you’ve done your best caveman homage and left nothing left on your plate but skeletonized beef bones and a smear of sauce, a “hot” (ie. high alcohol content) bourbon, such as Booker’s or Buffalo Trace’s George T. Stagg (over 140 proof, weeeee, doggies!!!) does an amazing job of cutting straight through the meal’s considerable heaviness and helping one go about the business of digestion.

And ultimately, as much as those cowpokes’ faces were set alight by the discovery that chocolate and peanut butter are “doggone good!” any real rough riding rancher worth his salt would undoubtedly prefer a plate of hot ribs and three fingers of Kentucky’s finest at the end of a long day roping doggies. That’s what I’d want. Hell, that’s what I want right now. Can you blame me?

Bourbon and Barbecue: The Ultimate BFF Pair (Version B)


There’s a television advertisement I remember from my youth: Two ranch hands are hanging out on the corral, snacking, when one of them, in an inept attempt to mount his steed, flips over the saddle and spills his treat. “My chocolate!” he laments, to which the other counters, “is in my peanut butter!” It’s not long before the two men realize that, as in the case of Newton’s apple, Archimedes’s bathtub, and Alexander Flemming’s famous mold, they’d landed in the lap of genius by way of pure serendipity. Yes: Chocolate! Peanut Butter! Gadzooks, why didn’t anyone think about combining these things before?!?!

In the land of meat and drink, there are pairings that seldom fail to please, and they are more or less common tastes between all of us: A robust Cabernet with a thick NY strip; bacon and eggs with coffee; spicy Texas-style chili with cold beer; a glass of sweet Sauternes and seared fois gras. I love all of these, deeply and with gusto (I mean, who doesn't?). However, for me the ultimate pairing of beast and beverage, without a doubt, is bourbon and barbecue. Amidst all the myriad combinations of food and spirits there’s something sublimely gratifying about a good glass of whiskey and a plate of expertly glazed Memphis short ribs, sliced Texas beef brisket or pulled pork with North Carolina vinegar sauce. My love for all things bourbon and BBQ is as strong as the mighty Mississippi, even as strong perhaps as these fine gentlemen, who’ve compiled a comprehensive and finely harmonized guide to the various styles of barbecue throughout the Southern United States: The Barbecue Song

I’ve thought about this delicious duo often and fondly, especially since I moonlight behind the bar at Brooklyn’s Char no. 4, a restaurant dedicated to purveying not only refined Southern American fare (including barbecue, naturally), but also its vast array of American whiskeys, upwards of 150 strong (don't we all love choice when it comes to whiskey?). And after much meditation, I’ve discovered a number of reasons that the bourbon and BBQ connection is so naturally gratifying. First is the regional connection. Bourbon and American-style barbecue were both invented in the South, and, in the epicurean world, it’s almost always a good idea to pair food with drink that comes from the same basic geographical region. Speaking of which, both of these delights are quintessentially American, especially bourbon, which was declared America’s dedicated spirit by federal law. (A resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1964 declared bourbon to be a “distinctive product of the United States.) Hence, combining a nice glass of Pappy Van Winkle with a carefully tended low-and-slow pork butt, you’re engaging in something of a patriotic act. God bless America!

Then, of course, is the matter of flavor pairings. Since it’s made up of mostly corn — a minimum of 51%, by law — bourbon has a characteristic sweetness to it that marries perfectly with taste profiles of many barbecue sauces. More importantly, though, is the fact that bourbon is matured in a new, charred oak barrel. Over time, the whiskey picks up color and flavor from the charred wood, so that the finished product possesses a richness and complexity that does nothing if not bring out the accents of maple and smoke that make truly great barbecue something that all of us love. Also to note: bourbon is traditionally a sipping spirit; one’s meant to take his or her time with a glass, to enjoy it langorously rather than just knocking it back like a shot of Jagermeister at the college sports bar, much in the same way good BBQ should be both prepared and appreciated: slowly, thoughtfully, and, yes, with love. Shoveling it all in as quickly as possible? We’ll leave that to the yankees, thank you very much.

Another wonderful thing about bourbon is that, unlike most other spirits, it functions splendidly as both an aperitif and a digestive. A nice glass of something smooth, a wheated bourbon such as Maker’s Mark or W.L. Weller Special Reserve, say, kicks the appetite into first gear, so that by the time your rib rack arrives, you’re ready to go to town. At the other end of the meal, once you’ve done your best caveman homage and left nothing left on your plate but skeletonized beef bones and a smear of sauce, a “hot” (ie. high alcohol content) bourbon, such as Booker’s or Buffalo Trace’s George T. Stagg (over 140 proof, weeeee, doggies!!!) does an amazing job of cutting straight through your meal’s considerable heaviness and helping you go about the business of digestion.

And ultimately, as much as those cowpokes’ faces were set alight by the discovery that chocolate and peanut butter are “doggone good!” any real rough riding rancher (which I'm sure you all are) worth his salt would undoubtedly prefer a plate of hot ribs and three fingers of Kentucky’s finest at the end of a long day roping doggies. That’s what I’d want. Hell, that’s what I want right now. Can you blame me?

Bourbon and Barbecue Reflection


Version B has a lot more parenthetical comments that speak directly to the audience, and that makes the audience feel more connected with what Scott is saying. In both posts, the first person narrative works to assume that there is an audience, but the feel of speaker-audience interaction is much stronger in version B. Version B has a lot of "we" that creates a community around the subject. Likely, most of the people reading the post in the first place are fans of bourbon and barbecue; if you aren't, then why read it?

Meyers's Claim


As far as this carnivore blog goes, Meyers is exactly right when he mentions the "right audience." It is clear in every post that Scott is talking to fellow meat lovers. This blog is tailored to such a specific group, that identifying the ideal audience is essential to its survival, and to Scott's book sales.

As for big audience vs. engaged audience, this blog has a unique element: it is connected to a book titled "The Shameless Carnivore." I think this adds a whole new element to the discussion. Is he building this blog and a specific audience to sell books? Or did the book create a large audience, and this blog is for the real die-hard carnivores that want even more than the book has to offer? It seems like a win-win for Scott, because both ways he gets a large audience as well as the right audience from the pairing of a blog and a book.
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