In defense of the Double Down

I’ve been wanting to blog about KFC’s new “Double Down” sandwich ever since I found out it was not a hoax, but I decided I should wait until I actually try one before I say anything.

I’ll start with the easy part of the review: the taste. If you like KFC, you’ll like the “bread” of this sandwhich. Nice, juicy, breaded boneless chicken breast. Yum. I ordered mine without sauce, because I generally hate any kind of mayo/dressing. The cheese was a decent generic processed cheese. Nothing to write home about, but not bad. The bacon (as noted in other reviews I’ve read) is barely even there. I noticed the texture of it, but the flavor is overpowered by the Colonel’s original recipe. Still, I think it’s my favorite sandwich out there right now , since I’ve sworn to never eat another Baconator again. It was tasty and it was satisfying, and that second part is important. I can demolish a double-quarter-pounder with cheese and still feel unsatisfied. I had the Double Down (with no sides) and I was good to go.

Now comes the hard part. I’m going to defend this sandwich on it’s nutritional merits, which have been under near-constant attack by virtually everybody ever since they first saw a picture of it. I’m going to do this by comparing facts.

I am comparing the Double Down, largely, to less than what I actually eat at other places. I was aiming for roughly the same total product weight, but the double down satisfies me, and none of these other items do. The comparison items are a 6″ Spicy Italian sub from Subway (I either eat a 12″ or a 6″ with double meat), 3 crunchy tacos from Taco Bell (I never eat fewer than 4, 5 is typical), a Spicy Chicken sandwich from Wendy’s (I do order these, but they aren’t filling and I used to order Baconator Doubles), BK Stacker from Burger King (picked more or less at random because I don’t eat at BK), a Quarter Pounder w/Cheese from McDonalds (I normally get the double QPw/C), and lastly, just for fun, the Baconator Double from Wendy’s.

Protein is (generally speaking) good for you. Maybe the Double Down goes too far in being >50% protein, but this is where the “satisfaction” comes from in eating this sandwich. Your body now has fuel for the day. The only sandwich that has more protein (59g vs 53g) is the Baconator Double, which is a nutritional nightmare. The Double Down is packing more than double the protein of a 6″ sub or 3 tacos, so it makes sense that I normally eat a 12″ sub or 5-6 tacos.

When it comes to fat, some fats are worse than others. The Double Down has double the total fat of a Spicy Chicken, but it’s in the ballpark of the other items, and it’s slightly more than half of the Baconator Double. But when we look at Saturated Fat, the Double Down is second best on the list (to the Spicy Chicken), and for Trans Fat (the worst of all fats), it is tied for second with the 6″ sub at 0.5g. So it’s a fatty sandwich, but it’s mostly “good” fat.

Depending on your diet (and/or your diabetes), carbs can be very bad for you, or they can be quick energy with a “crash” later. Fiber is a good form of carbs, sugar is the worst. The Double Down has the least carbs (in all forms) of any of these sandwiches. It comes in at roughly 35% of the carbs in the second-place sandwich, and while it only has 1g of fiber, it also only has 1g of sugar. And who has the most fiber? Surprise… it’s not Subway. Tacos are packing a whopping 8g of fiber. If you need fiber, run for the border!

Calories. Some people don’t care whether their calories are protein, fat, or carbs, so let’s just look at total calories. The Double Down is coming in at second worst (not counting Baconator), but it’s only 70 calories more than the best. That’s roughly half a soda.

Lastly, there’s sodium. I largely ignore sodium, but it’s very important to some people. This is probably the worst stat for the Double Down, too. It’s coming in at second worst…. behind Subway (and the Baconator). And again Taco Bell surprises me with the win. So for a low-sodium, low-sugar, high-fiber meal, go with the tacos.

edit: Even-more-lastly, there’s cholesterol, which I skipped over. Cholesterol is the worst thing about the Double Down, hands down, and it’s the only category in which the Double Down is the worst (aside from that damned Baconator)

In conclusion: Is the Double Down healthy? No, not really. Is it as horrible as people are making it out to be? Absolutely not. It’s clearly just about as bad for you as any other fast food of comparable serving size. As far as I am concerned, it’s better simply because it is gram-for-gram more filling. As noted above, the Double Down satisfied my hunger, and I have compared it to a lot of things that do not satisfy my hunger, simply because they mass about the same. I would say that, for me the Double Down is the best fast food I can eat, overall. Although if my doc saw me putting that much cholesterol into my body she’d probably kill me.

KFC Subway Taco Bell Wendy’s Burger King McDonald’s Wendy’s
Double Down 6″ Spicy Italian 3 hard shell tacos Spicy Chicken sandwich BK Stacker Quarter Pounder w/Cheese Baconator Double
Serving Size (gms) 241 240 234 233 ??? ??? 312
Calories 540 520 500 470 570 510 980
Calories from Fat 290 250 ??? 150 ??? 230 560
Total Fat (gms) 32 28 29 16 37 26 62
Saturated Fat (gms) 10 11 11 3 15 12 27
Trans Fat (g) 0.5 0.5 1 0 1.5 1.5 2.5
Cholesterol (mgs) 145 65 85 55 100 90 215
Sodium (mgs) 1380 1830 990 1280 1050 1190 2020
Carbohydrates (gms) 11 47 37 55 29 40 46
Dietary Fiber (gms) 1 5 8 1 ??? 3 2
Sugars (gms) 1 7 2 7 7 9 9
Protein (gms) 53 22 24 27 31 29 59
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  • Craig Maloney  On April 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I’m sure a shit sandwich has a goodly percentage of protein to get you through your day, an may even be filling, but damned if I’m eating one any time soon.

    • wolfger  On April 25, 2010 at 6:10 am

      So… you don’t eat any fast food? Or are you just being pointlessly crass because you don’t have any cogent counter-arguments?

    • Late to the game, but just saw this article  On January 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      @Craig… so you think eating a chicken breast with cheese is equivalent to eating feces? How’s your health?

      @Wolfger… 100% agreed, except don’t worry about the dietary cholesterol, which is probably irrelevant to heart disease, and if your doctor can’t explain why, change doctors. Suggested reading:
      The worst thing you can eat from a fast food restaurant is the bun. Equal parts ‘refined’ flour and high fructose corn syrup, unfit for human consumption. Ergo, the double down is the healthiest choice simply for what it leaves out. Plus it’s delicious. If they’d only stop torturing their chickens before slaughter, I’d eat one every day.

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