The cheapskate diet: KFC sells chicken for a penny a calorie

KFC, the erstwhile Kentucky Fried Chicken, has introduced a special meal promotion with a novel pricing twist: It costs 1 cent a calorie.

The 395-calorie Kentucky Grilled Chicken meal comes with a drumstick and thigh, green beans, mashed potatoes, and gravy. For that square meal, customers pay $3.95.

KFC's grilled chicken, by the way, is the same stuff that the 15,000-store chain was pushing when it served up its botched free chicken giveaway earlier this year.

It's funny that major fast food chains have battled local authorities tooth and nail so they don't have to post calorie information in a conspicuous place (a battle lost in New York City last year), but KFC has chosen to launch a promotion that actually depends on getting the number out there.

KFC might also have just stumbled on one of the only ways to get Americans back into shape: connect dollars with calories.

Countless American communities don't have access to affordable fresh foods anymore, and they depend on fast food restaurants (and their mostly empty calories) to feed themselves and their families. We're paying low-grade prices for food with sky-high junk calorie counts, yet healthy food with low calories can cost more, which scares some people away from eating well.

It'll never happen, but can you imagine the diet transformations that would occur if calories and dollars were connected the way megabytes and dollars are, or the way gas volume and dollars are? People would start paying more attention to what they're putting into their bodies then.

Suddenly, sausage McGriddles at McDonald's would cost $5.60. An original-sized Peanut Butter Moo'd at Jamba Juice would cost $7.70. Red Lobster, on the other hand, would become a relative bargain, and a full Lobster and Shrimp combo would cost $10.20 there.

The real question is whether Americans who are used to fried, calorie-laden food will be sated after spending just $3.95 for a 400-calorie meal?

Keep an eye on the service counters at KFC, and you'll probably see plenty of people taking advantage of the low-cost promotion -- by ordering two.
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