Consider this installment of Lost in the Supermarket an emergency “on the road” edition. I’ve decided to interrupt the column’s regularly scheduled concept (i.e., I eat weird food from the grocery store so you don’t have to) due to a sense of civic responsibility.
With recent developments in the restaurant world, I feel it's more important to throw myself on the grenade of two newsworthy ill-advised fast-food inventions than to grab another seemingly inedible item from the supermarket and make fun of it.
First: KFC. The restaurant that changed its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken because it can’t promise you won’t get a little pigeon meat in your bucket earned major buzz for its Double Down “sandwich” as soon as it was announced. Not, however, because it sounded delicious. The DD’s word-of-mouth is purely a result of befuddlement, as it's quite possibly the boldest “Screw nutrition!” move in the fast-food industry’s history. It makes Wendy’s Triple Baconator look like a sensible salad lightly doused with low-fat dressing.
If you’ve somehow missed the collective “Whaaaat!?” emanating from the pop-cultural world — everyone from Bill Maher to The New York Times has been unable to resist pontificating on this wonderment of culinary terrorism — let me explain: The Double Down is two thick slabs of boneless fried chicken disguised as the bun for a sandwich containing two pieces of bacon and two slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese.
All this is slathered with something called Colonel’s Sauce, which I initially assumed was caramel given the shockingly unhealthy context but turns out to be some sort of watery, mild ketchup.
If you think KFC’s patented fried chicken is pretty OK, like I do, you won’t be thoroughly disgusted by this meat rock (calling it a sandwich is an insult to the Earl of Sandwich). The “buns” are moist, and the Colonel’s secret recipe makes it surprisingly spicy. One of the chicken breasts would make for a nice meal with a couple of sides. But smushing two of them together around dry bacon strips and an overdose of melted cheese makes the flavors run together in a garbled, indistinguishable mess.
Not to be left behind in the anti-bun movement is the most confusing McDonald’s maneuver since deciding the “Not until I’ve had my coffee” douchebag would make a great star for an ad campaign: the Mac Snack Wrap. This is baffling not because of its monstrousness but more for how the burger giant seems to suggest that it’s a healthy alternative to the Big Mac (which, coincidentally, has the same number of calories — 540 — as the Double Down and almost as much fat). Apparently the reason Morgan Spurlock got so fat and sick from his daily McDonald’s intake in Super Size Me wasn’t because of the preservatives, cholesterol or lack of proper nutrients in the meat, sauces or grease. It’s the bun, stupid!
Replacing the traditional tri-level carbography of the Big Mac with a tortilla wrap does make for a “healthier” alternative. Technically. It’s mostly less horrible for you because it’s smaller.
If you're the kind of person who orders a Big Mac but can only eat three-quarters of it, you’re close to the Mac Snack Wrap experience already in nutritional value/detriment, taste and aftertaste. McDonald’s never overtly declares the Mac Wrap “healthy,” though the tone of the promotions certainly drops that hint.
Besides the obvious, eating a Big Mac in wrap form is barely different from eating the real deal. Possessing the same basic ingredients means that uniquely Big Mac flavor of burger meat, Thousand Island dressing and taste-free lettuce is fully intact. Besides being a misleading attempt to make people think McDonald’s really cares about their health, I believe the company might just have been looking for ways to make customers feel less idiotic for ordering a Diet Coke with their 5,000-calorie order.
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