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The KFC Double Down is the Most Horrifying Thing I’ve Ever Eaten

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The KFC Double Down as photographed by Michael Saechang on Flickr. While this is a well done photo, it still looks nothing like what KFC promises it will…which you can see right here.

It started as all things do in my life: an impulse. Having genetic predispositions to heavy alcohol consumption, a paradigm of “no risk, no reward,” and good old bad friends who know I’ll do almost anything if it comes to a dare (we won’t get into psycho-analyzing that today), the idea of trying the Kentucky Fried Chicken Double Down was almost an afterthought.

I knew I would try it. I knew I would eat it with the only basic reason of doing so, in order to give it a score and share the data with the aforementioned friends. This piece was truly an afterthought. One’s life and actions don’t always have to be so complicated.

My biggest issue was how I was going to get it. My laziness, confronted with getting this tiered behemoth of two pieces of fried chicken, a slice of provolone, and three strips of bacon, needed to be more manageable. Remember, most of these foul culinary escapades were performed after I bathed my mind, liver, and soul with a fair amount of low-grade beer and tequila. It is only possible for anyone to attempt what I did with that accomplishment. It is a necessary step, hopefully soon to be law.

After a pleasant walk through Duboce park, taking in the sun with my chin tilted toward the cloudless blue sky, the atmospheric rivers, power outages, threats of nuclear war, and endless money printing temporarily replaced by the simple task of achieving this sandwich, it proved to be relatively easy. The only curve ball was the price ($10) and the long walk back, KFC bag in tow. There is nothing more obvious and revealing to one’s state than huffing down the street with a paper bag of KFC, trying to act like I didn’t have a hangover that would sideline a rhino.

The walk also led to this conclusion: I don’t think the Double Down could technically be defined as a sandwich. Sandwiches have bread. This thing uses two greasy bricks of chicken with fried floured flakes that are more like spikes you’d find on a mace or a nail bat.

Arriving home, I heated the Double Down in my oven (if I was going to eat it, I wanted to eat it at optimum temperature) and slipped the nightmare out of its nuclear-safe package onto the counter. The sight of it left me speechless. I was genuinely stunned.

I’ve eaten double Popeyes Sandwiches drowned in their infamous Buffalo ranch and cried with fried joy when I ate Burger Kings Fried Chicken challenger. Still, at that moment, feeling my breath drop into the pit of my diaphragm as my pupils dilated from the wafting stench of brine and the effects of their magical “pressure fryer,” I realized this was too much. I felt real, genuine fear.

As Virgil once wrote, Death twitches my ear. “Live,” Death says. “I am coming.” 

The first bite was scorching, with pops of grease and stabs of fried skin assaulting the top of my mouth, inside of my cheeks, and tongue. I remember distinctly typing to my lousy group of friends, I feel like I’m inflicting violence on myself, with replies of “Jesus,” “that looks like a heart attack waiting to happen,” and “credit to Mitchell for trying it.” The bacon looked fake, almost like play dough bacon, and the cheese resembling depressed lava, seemingly indifferent about ever reaching the ocean. I finished half, dipping the mangled edges into a Buffalo sauce (like I said, no risk, no reward), and took a long drink of water, trying to avoid my gaze in the mirror. The water provided relief, but the war was not won.

I finished the second half, silently cleaned up the evidence (my girlfriend would be home soon and undoubtedly see the wrapper, but I could try), and replied to my chat of bad friends: “1/10. One of the worst things I’ve ever put into my body.”

Colonel Sanders signing my death certificate (photo by Edgy01/Dan Lindsay via Wikimedia Commons)

And then, almost like the spirit of Colonel Sanders had heard my blasphemous words within my mind, I felt a treble in my heart. I had just turned 35, technically halfway to 70, which is 100 percent old. A front of existential terror flowed through me, coupled with the absurd humor of dying not by Popeyes – my favorite – but because of its total opposite, a catastrophe and disrespectful product of when gluttony, greed, and the lie of being untouchable, is infused in a product of mass consumption, aka The Double Down from KFC.

I took a cold shower and tried to take a 45 minute nap on an acupuncture mat, wistfully whispering incoherent prayers to Colonel Sanders for forgiveness, mercy, and, hopefully, a second chance. And as I dozed off, I couldn’t help but feel a cold hiss of wind slink down the hallway, snake its way into the living room, and twitch my ear. Thankfully, I woke up my roommate asking what I was doing in the living room.

“Celebrating the little victories and the tiny defeats,” I remember saying, my face flush with the warmth of the afternoon sun.

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Mitchell Duran

Mitchell Duran

Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Winner of the ClarkGrossman and Wilner Award in Short Fiction, his work has been featured in Drunk Monkeys, The Millions, Music in SF and more. He survives in San Francisco.