The Double Down was meant to sound like a prank. KFC first announced the sandwich, featuring bacon, cheese, and sauce held between two fried chicken filets, on April Fool’s Day in 2010. It was real and went on to become legendary in its absurdity and decadence. Now it seems almost quaint — more extravagant meals can be built at basically every fast-food chain. But in another period of economic precariousness, with nostalgia moving at an ever more rapid pace, perhaps it should not be surprising that KFC is bringing back the Double Down.
KFC will be putting the Double Down on the menu for four weeks, starting on March 6. “The Double Down is one of the most buzzworthy fast-food menu items ever,” says KFC CMO Nick Chavez in a press release. “After nearly a decade of people begging for its return, we’re embracing the chaos, bringing back our most iconic sandwich ever for just four weeks.”
The new Double Down will be available with either mayo or spicy sauce. If you can’t wait until the 6th, on March 2 fans can sign up for one of 2,014 sandwiches that will be available to March 5. The number represents the year the Double Down was last available on the menu.
In many ways, our current culinary climate much resembles 2010. Back then the Great Recession had greatly influenced food trends toward maximum flavor and calories for minimum prices. And in October 2010, Epic Meal Time premiered on YouTube, dedicated to meat-heavy, fast-food mashups and home recipes, nearly all involving bacon.
Bacon’s popularity was largely manufactured by the pork industry, after the success of its 1987 “The Other White Meat” campaign for lean pork left the industry with a surplus of fatty cuts like pork belly. Starting in the late ’90s, the Pork Marketing Board lobbied chains to add bacon to the menu, to great success. That same time period marked the debut of the high-fat, low-carb Atkins diet, which meat and cheese-heavy foods played right into.
Now, our economy is unstable again, with layoffs affecting multiple industries. The high-protein keto diet reigns, with TikTok full of ways to make sandwiches with eggs as bread. And the trend pendulum that once swung toward zoodles and cauliflower everything is swinging back to cheese, bread, and fried things. The austerity of “wellness” has ricocheted us to a “fuck it, we ball” mode of eating, a return to the conditions that originally birthed the Double Down and a place where it can return and further catalyze that trend.
But looking at the press images now, the Double Down seems weirdly tame. Was everyone really getting worked up about what amounts to two chicken strips with some cheese and bacon? (Note that Burger King just introduced a four-patty burger, with bacon, of course.) Was this really, as Eater put it at the time, a “monstrosity,” or what one blogger called “the vilest food product created by man”? Maybe, but not in the way those detractors meant; it is still fast food, produced under atrocious farming and labor conditions. Either way, we’ve already determined KFC just isn’t that good.