You didn’t think KFC was going to completely abandon its over-the-top disposition in favor of products like wraps, did you?
The company that replaced a sandwich bun with two pieces of fried chicken is at it again, bringing back that very innovation, known as the Double Down, to the U.S. market for the first time in nine years. The offering features two Extra Crispy filets, two slices of cheese, two slices of hickory-smoked bacon and either the Colonel’s real mayo or spicy sauce. It is available nationwide for four weeks only beginning March 6. Pricing starts at $8.99 but varies by location. Combo meals with the Double Down start at $11.99.
The Double Down first made its debut in 2010 and garnered both buzz and pushback. One nutritionist wrote a letter to parent company Yum Brands calling the Double Down a “troubling symbol of corporate irresponsibility,” for instance, while the company extended its run due to high demand. KFC said more than 10 million Double Downs were sold during its first month in 2010.
The company has continued to offer the product in several of its global markets, including in 2021 in Canada. It hasn’t appeared in the U.S. however, since 2014. This latest version will be slightly different than those previous appearances. For starters, just one sauce was available in 2010 – the Colonel’s Special Sauce – and the filet is about 20% larger than the 2010 filet, CMO Nick Chavez said during a recent trip to KFC’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.
“We’re going to go over the top with it,” Chavez said.
In a statement, Chavez added that the Double Down is one of the most “buzzworthy fast food menu items ever,” and, indeed, Thrillist credits the sandwich for inspiring a decade’s worth of subsequent “stunt food” launches, like the Doritos Locos Taco and Dunkin’s Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich.
For those who choose not to indulge, KFC is leveraging the cheese and bacon SKUs from the Double Down by also introducing a new variation of its chicken sandwich. The bacon and cheese chicken sandwich includes an Extra Crispy filet, slice of cheese, two pieces of bacon, the Colonel’s real mayo and pickles served on a brioche bun. The sandwich will also be available starting March 6 for a limited time only and is available for the suggested price of $6.49 a la carte, or $9.49 for a combo.
“We realize leaving the buns behind isn’t for everyone, so our newest bacon and cheese chicken sandwich was designed for those who are looking for the craveable taste of bacon and cheese added to the chicken sandwich perfected by the fried chicken experts,” Chavez said in a statement.
Notably, KFC is also currently testing an Ultimate BBQ chicken sandwich and a Spicy Slaw chicken sandwich in the Tampa, Florida, market. The variations build on the chain’s successful chicken sandwich launch in early 2021 that drove strong sales and traffic. They’re also part of KFC’s “innovation pipeline acceleration,” as Chavez calls it, aimed at driving “everyday occasions” and strengthening the brand’s appeal among younger consumers. Whether the Double Down will resonate with those consumers nine years later is yet to be seen, but several petitions on Change.org calling for the Double Down’s return suggest some demand exists.
Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]