LOUISVILLE Ky. Sister chain Taco Bell may use the tag line “Think outside the bun,” but KFC actually is putting that philosophy into practice with the test of a new product: the Double Down. The “sandwich” replaces bread with two Original Recipe fried-chicken fillets that enclose bacon, Swiss and pepper-Jack cheeses, and the Colonel’s sauce.
The test of the Double Down comes on the heels of KFC’s most recent product launch of Kentucky Grilled Chicken, which the chain introduced after years in test to offer more healthful options to its customers. Television ads for KFC’s grilled chicken feature men and women dancing around the product, speaking about its taste and healthful nature. A television spot for the Double Down shows just men celebrating the meaty offerings of the new “sandwich” in a similar style and also carries the “Unthink KFC” messaging.
While fast-food brands continue to catch heat from regulators on the caloric and fat content of their foods, spurring talk of federal menu-labeling laws, many chains are still developing indulgent menu items. McDonald's recently rolled out its Angus Third Pounder line of premium burgers nationally. Carl's Jr. debuted its Big Carl burger last week, and sister chain Hardee's on Monday introduced a Fried Bologna Biscuit breakfast item.
News of the Double Down, which KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said Monday in an e-mail was one of several products currently in test, was reported as far back as July 28 on blog Food Geekery, but buzz about the sandwich has gained steam as of late. Another blog, Consumerist, had cell-phone pictures of the meat-as-bread product posted last Friday, and Monday morning Huffington Post ran an item on the Double Down, linking to a televised report from Fox News.
Maynard confirmed that the Double Down began test marketing a few weeks ago in KFC units in Omaha, Neb., and Providence, R.I. Several of the blogs had reported a price of $4.99 for the sandwich, but Maynard said pricing varies since the product is still in test. The item is not listed on KFC’s website.
The KFC spokesman also noted that inaccurate estimates of the calories in the Double Down have been reported.
“While we don’t have final nutritional data for test market items,” Maynard wrote, “we estimate the Double Down at just under 600 calories.”
That projection disputes an independent calorie analysis conducted by the Vancouver Sun newspaper, cited by the Huffington Post, which estimated the Double Down to contain more than 1,200 calories and more than 80 grams of fat.
Louisville-based KFC, a division of Yum! Brands Inc., also based in Louisville, has more than 15,000 units in more than 109 countries and territories. Yum also operates and franchises the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W brands.
Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected]