As the Internet's preeminent voice on fried meals, Cracked.com obviously had to find out what this sandwich was all about. And as Cracked's foremost "columnist with no outstanding warrants," I was the only one capable of crossing state lines to do this--a necessary step, as the Double Down Sandwich is only available in select test markets. When it became clear I'd have to travel to land this scoop, and after Cracked Editor-in-Chief Jack O'Brien agreed to pay absolutely none of my expenses, I decided I might as well go full bore, and visit KFC's corporate headquarters in Kentucky: The so called "Sleeping In Your Car State." When I arrived at KFC Headquarters, I showed them my business card and several back issues of Cracked magazine, and then explained what exactly Cracked magazine was, and then maybe lied a bit to make us sound more influential in the poultry industry. My bona fides established, I was granted an interview with Senior Vice President of Product Development Frank Bryant. A cheerful receptionist ushered me into a meeting room where I was told to wait for Mr. Bryant. While cooling my heels, I admired several paintings depicting chickens dressed in business attire and sitting around in office settings; making phone calls, taking stenography, that sort of thing. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Bryant entered the room and introduced himself, insisting I call him Frank. Standing by the window overlooking the KFC campus, I launched into my list of questions. "What is the deal with the Double Down Sandwich?" I asked, shooting my wad immediately. Frank laughed. "I thought you'd ask about that. I'll be happy to tell you." A strange look came over his eyes then, like a great weight had just settled upon him. "I can also arrange a tasting for you, if you wish?" I indicated I'd appreciate that, and he made a quick phone call. Hanging up the phone, he turned to me, took a breath and began speaking. "A couple years ago, KFC Corporation was in really bad shape. Growth had stalled, and even reversed in some markets. Some restaurant sales were way down. We were getting hammered in the press, especially on health issues. And on the flip side of the coin, we were getting squeezed by competitors offering triple stacked burgers with two types of bacon, cheese flavored mayonnaise and so forth. So we were starting to lose the 'Experienced Eater' market as well." I started dutifully writing all of that down, but soon discovered I couldn't write that fast. I angled my notebook away from him and faked it. In fact a lot of what he said in the previous paragraph is completely made up. Sorry. He continued. "It was around this time that we were coming up with some of our worst ideas." I nodded. "You're talking about the Famous Bowl." "Yes, the Famous Bowl." He shook his head and stared at his feet. I gritted my teeth, then stepped forward, slapping him as hard as I could. I think I left my feet. His head recoiled from my blow, and he stumbled backwards, knocked off balance. He rubbed his jaw, staring at me while he regained his composure. "Thank you," he finally said. After a moment's pause, Frank continued his story. "After a while, a new vice president, recently transferred from our European division, offered an unusual solution. His name was Mannheim Fritzpain, and he observed that for the past 20 years KFC had been chasing trends instead of setting them. Sometimes this strategy worked, sometimes it didn't; but it always meant we would be behind the curve. Fritzpain observed that the only time in our company's history when we were groundbreaking was in the early years, after the Colonel perfected his original recipe. Back then, no one had ever seen anything like it. We changed the world." "So this guy suggested a new groundbreaking direction for the company? Like the Double Down Sandwich?" "No, he suggested reanimating the corpse of Colonel Sanders." A rush of blood to my head. A buzzing sound in my ears. I felt dizzy. "Our European division has a weird history. Lot's of...." he waved his hands around searchingly, "...former Nazi scientists. For lack of a better word." He leaned back and adjusted himself in his seat. "Feel free to report that incidentally, no one will believe you." I reminded him about the exacting standards of journalistic excellence Cracked was known for in the poultry industry, but he waved his hand as if swatting the issue away. He continued his story. "Anyways, once the board voted on it, Doktor Fritzpain moved with remarkable speed." "He's a doctor?" "You know, I'm not exactly sure. That's just what everyone called him. He was always wearing one of those reflector things on his head." I scribbled this down furiously.
Frank was kind enough to supply a photograph of Mannheim Fritzpain. He noted that this isn't in black and white. That was his actual skin color. "Anyways, the Colonel's body was disinterred from its vault a couple days later, and then we just had to sit around waiting for the next thunderstorm. Then Hey Presto, there's the Colonel again." "And how was he? How did he, uh, enjoy the experience?" "Well, he was completely insane unfortunately. I mean even before he died, he was always a little..." Frank held his hand out and twitched it back and forth a little. "But it was definitely worse after. Just screeching and spitting and biting at anything that moved. Doktor Fritzpain had to keep him chained down and feed him Famous Bowls through a funnel." My shoulder flinched, as I instinctively made to slap him again. I caught it in time though, and steadied myself on the table. Frank watched all this impassively. "A couple days later, the current CEO goes down to see this monstrosity." I nodded, beckoning him to continue. "The Colonel," he said before pausing. He swallowed. "The Colonel broke his chains. Killed the CEO and ripped the Doktor to shreds." "Jesus," I shuddered. What a cliché. That's fucking terrible. "What happened next?" "Well," Frank said, his tone suddenly meek. "According to Kentucky law, if you kill an executive of a company in one on one combat, you immediately take on his role and responsibilities." I shook my head in amazement. Those backward hillbillies.
Pictured: The Louisville Chamber of Commerce Frank continued. "So now this abomination of God's Will is in full control of the company! He immediately focuses his attention on Research & Development." "So it was the Colonel who pushed the creation of the Double Down Sandwich?" I asked, trying to pin Frank down. Frank nodded. "He's got chicken madness. No concept of chicken proportions. Everything has to contain more chicken, across the board. Chicken soft drinks. Chicken napkins. Stuff that doesn't even make sense. Chicken athletic apparel. Chicken vowels." Frank's expression changed. He looked scared and bewildered, lost in some terrible memory. I felt sorry for him. He shook his head, clearing his expression and then glanced at his watch. "If you'll come with me, I have something to show you." He gestured to a door. I acquiesced and followed him out of the room. As we walked down the completely unremarkable looking corridors of KFC's corporate headquarters, I found it hard to believe this was the site of blood-steeped rituals of unrelenting darkness. Well. Harder to believe. I asked: "So with his chicken madness, he must eat nothing but chicken then?" "That's what's so crazy! He can't stomach it! He's tried. He's tried a thousand times, but the only thing which slates his hunger now is human flesh." I bit my lip. "And is that a normal Kentucky thing, or is that new?" "No, no. It's new. And it's not cool." I exhaled in relief. "For the first few months he subsisted on the dessicated corpses of Doktor Fritzpain and our former CEO. Then a month ago he killed our Operations Manager when he protested about the new uniforms his people had to wear." "Chicken suits?" I guessed. Frank shook his head. "No. Well, yes. If by chicken suit you mean a jumpsuit with dozens of pieces of chicken taped to it." I shook my head. That wasn't what I meant by chicken suit. We continued walking in silence. I got the impression Frank was leading me towards the research labs. "Frank, I do have one question. Why are you telling me all this?" Frank looked me in the eye without saying anything. He opened a door, indicating for me to enter. It was a lab area. Spotless work benches. Stools. He gestured for me to take a seat. Finally he looked at me, a burning intensity in his eyes. "He's changing the recipes. In some... pretty fundamental ways." "I don't understand." Frank's face fell. He looked utterly defeated. "You will. For now, though, I only ask one thing: Tell my story. Tell the world my story." Hesitation. "OK," I finally said. "If I can get it under a thousand words," I added quietly, trying not to move my lips. He nodded. "Wait here." He walked to the other side of the lab and through a pair of swinging double doors. On the other side I could see what looked like an industrial kitchen. Speakers set into the ceiling began piping in music. The volume increased steadily. I didn't recognize the song. It was some guy rapping, comparing eating fried chicken to having sex. It was pretty awful. I swore I actually heard someone screaming in the backing vocals at one point, but that was probably just my brain expressing its distaste for the music. Eventually the music was shut off. A young woman in an apron came out of the kitchen holding a platter. On it sat a Double Down sandwich. She set it down in front of me and looked at me expectantly. ___ In the end, I found the KFC Double Down sandwich to be crisp, mildly tangy, a little messy and a harbinger of a blood soaked world of unrelenting pain. I give it two stars. ** _____