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April 21, 2010

Doubled over

Gentle Reader, I’m concerned my constant prattling about “The Culture of Excess” and “Conspicuous Consumption” may ultimately lead to a decline in interest on your behalf.

It breaks my heart to think of you spending your solitary moments on the can paging through the latest bridal edition of Louisville Magazine instead of here with me, where you belong.

Our time together is important to me for two good reasons: The bad habits I enjoy the most are largely financed with monies earned writing this column, and, simply put, I need attention. I won’t lose you now. So, in an effort to ensure our continued and mutually assured satisfaction, I’m diversifying.

Henceforth, the hackneyed, low-rent cultural criticism you’ve come to expect from Raised Relief will be seamlessly integrated with delightful suggestions for easy-to-make meals on the go. Today’s menu suggestion/cultural survey: the sandwich.

Sandwiches are a quick, convenient way to get all — and in some cases more than — the required calories needed to keep up with the manic pace imposed on you by an impersonal, existentially rabid phase of human evolution. But they can still be tasty, and fun to eat!

The research team here at Raised Relief has whittled down the essential characteristics of the sandwich to only two, both of which must be present for any food item to be classified as sandwich.

1) A sandwich can be manipulated and delivered to the mouth via the hands without undue spillage if the user has hands and wishes to use them.

2) Food or food product will be at least adjacent to, if not surrounded by, some form of bread.

Seemingly simple as they may be, these formal constraints have led to some startling revelations.

We were unable to determine that the presence of a stick in any way de-legitimizes the primacy of the two cardinal rules. A corn dog, as it turns out, is a sandwich. The proper authorities have been notified.

In a triple bi-pass blow to the city of Louisville in particular, the following “foods” are disqualified from being a sandwich by their failure to meet one or both of the aforementioned restrictions.

Failed to meet rule No. 1: The Hot Brown and The Big Daddy Burger.

Failed to meet rule No. 2: KFC’s new marketing gallstone, “The Double Down.”

It is to the latter cultural and culinary failure to which I now draw your attention.

Friends, it gives me no pleasure to engage in what can only be described as collateral viral marketing. I’m going to talk about The Double Down, and, as a result, some disenfranchised percentage of you will likely go and partake in this minor but alluringly grotesque watershed moment in the decline of Western Civilization as a whole.

The Double Down is hyper-post-modernism as food.

In an unholy union of irony, intentional excess, marketing performance art and complete abandonment of sense, KFC has crammed a handful of bacon between two breaded “chicken fillets” instead of a bun. Without even a token nod to plant-based food like a leaf of iceberg lettuce or an onion ring, the whole damn abomination is glued together with two types of cheese product and an ecto-plasmic goo of the all-too-familiar “special sauce” variety.

As if the constituent elements weren’t enough to render it completely meaningless, the product, in defiance of natural law, has been dubbed a sandwich.

A few low-level marketing execs showed up to a board meeting recently with some alarming surveys describing a collective cultural groan over The Double Down. Their efforts to salvage a scrap of dignity for KFC patrons and the rest of us were met with solemn disdain from the board, and the poor mopes were stuffed into chicken costumes, blind-folded and ceremonially lowered into a pit of piranhas amidst the chants of 12 wizened Necromancers in the basement of Yum! Brands headquarters.

Remember when Yum! Brands used to be called TRICON Global? God I miss those honest days when a name really said something.

Friends, it did cross my mind that an actual journalist might have consumed a Double Down for the sake of his audience, his craft and some bona fides. Thankfully, I am not one of them, and I risked neither immediate kidney failure nor total karmic collapse in writing this column.

 

Listening to: Patton Oswalt’s illuminated discussion about KFC’s Famous Bowls, and R. Kelly’s Double Up.

 

 

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