KFC's Double Down is no bread-winner

kfc double downI won't spend another $5.65 on KFC's new Double Down because the sandwich is naked. So what that it tastes OK. Or that it has enough hunger-slaying protein to train for Mr. Olympia. It isn't worth the price of the bread that it doesn't include. That's the meat of its problem. It's almost all meat.

The Double Down -- two fried-chicken patties that act as the bun around slices of bacon and pepper jack cheese slathered in a mayo-based sauce -- is more like a Westernized Chicken Kiev. Give me buns for my hard-earned bread. Leaving out the roll diminishes the perception of value.
"There are many people like you who prefer the bread," Donald Lichtenstein, a marketing professor at the University of Colorado, told WalletPop on Tuesday. "I'm sure they did their market research. ... What I don't understand is why not offer both [with or without bread]?"

Lichtenstein figured the extra revenue generated by appealing to traditionalists as well would offset the extra cost of the bun.

Without it the otherwise substantial Double Down feels incomplete. Let's face it: A BLT without the bread is a salad.

There is a precedent for burgers without bread. In-N-Out, the Southern California chain, has for decades offered its "Protein Burger" meat with two hunks of iceberg lettuce as the bun. In-N-Out also makes the Flying Dutchman -- in which cheese-covered burgers are the bun.The two items have their devotees, including my carb-fearing mother. But they are not the profit-drivers. Remember when Hardee's and Carl's Jr. made a big deal of introducing low-carb burgers without buns in 2003 to capitalize on the Atkins craze? Me neither.

American fast food lovers want bread around their meat. If we want chicken, we'll take nuggets or a bucket. A certain malt shop ethos still holds sway. Fonzie never told Arnold to keep the clothes off the cow. The burp-and-go joints of today don't get it.

The KFC Web site touts its new megasandwich as such: "So much chicken there wasn't room for a bun."

Sure there is! Throw in a roll, a vegetable like a sliced onion or pepper, and then I'll pay the $5.65. You get approximately the same calories as a Big Mac, the Babe Ruth of fast food, but the Big Mac costs about $2 less. Make the Double Down worth the extra clams and stop playing chicken with our "sandwich-needs-bread" psyche.

For the record, KFC announced it was donating the "unneeded buns" from the Double Downs to food banks. I'll give the
Colonel props for that. Just don't ask me to fork over the dough for a naked sandwich.
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