Food & Drink Friday, October 20th Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: Adam Knight

The infamous KFC Double Down Burger is on sale in Herefordshire. We tried one.

Food & Drink Friday, October 20th

The infamous KFC Double Down Burger is on sale in Herefordshire. We tried one.

Last week, KFC’s much-hyped Double Down – that swaggering, deep-fried symbol of American excess – finally swang through Hereford’s saloon doors and went on sale.

In essence it's a chicken burger. Except that in the Double Down, the bun is replaced with two pieces of fried chicken, which then ‘sandwich’ a glistening, FoodBible-esque combination of bacon, BBQ sauce and melted cheese*. Yup.

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DoubleDown 195827

Now Herefordshire has fast-formed a reputation as one of the premier burger destinations in the UK thanks to our world-class cattle, the Beefy Boys’ multiple World Food Championships, and the Burger Shop’s sizzling reviews from the likes of the Observer’s Jay Rayner. And in that context, the existential challenge presented by the Double Down to the sanctity of burger-dom – and from a mere CHICKEN burger no less – felt like an affront to Hereford itself.

So naturally, we had to go and try one.

As the young till- jockey would tell me, the Double Down had been selling alright since its launch – but had not been met with the kind of mania seen elsewhere in the country. “It’s more chicken, innit,” he surmised.

It is. And yet, as I sat there on my own a Wednesday night eating my Double Down and trying my hardest to avoid my own reflection, I couldn’t help thinking it is so much more.

Among many things to many people, it is...

-         a happy reminder that somewhere at KFC’s HQ, there’s a team of food tech graduates sitting around a whiteboard, saying things like ‘Yeh, but what if we filled that doughnut with Popcorn Chicken?’, ‘How can we market the Bargain Bucket as part of a balanced, nutritional breakfast?’ or ‘Sod it, let’s just use the crushed-up Dorito crumbs from the bottom of the bag as batter’. Or, apparently, ‘who said a chicken burger needed a bun?’

-         a cheap date.

-         likely responsible for the deforestation of whole forests, as customers ditch the shiny, post-marathon-blanket the burger arrives in, in favour of free-handing it, before realising their mistake as they reach for their 17th napkin.  

-         an unholy affront to dining, only marginally more-acceptable than that weird Pizza Hut pizza with the mini burgers built in to the crust.

-         the natural conclusion to all those fad-y, no-carb Atkins diets.

-         the natural conclusion to a night in the Kerry.

-         a true and worthy philosophical challenge to our very definition of what a ‘burger’ is.

-         capitalism at its finest.

-         always better in the pictures.

-         over-hyped.

-         under-hyped.

-         over-priced.

-         just the beginning.

 

And the truth is it’s pretty damn good.

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It's especially good if you order up during that sweetspot somewhere between mid-afternoon graveyard shifts where the few lonely bit of chicken have been sat out on the hotplate, and the late-night rush (the Hereford restaurant is open until 11pm now) which sees lager-fuelled lads pushing their way past queues of stoners, to refuel before they head to Play. Time it right, and you’ll get a fresh, hot piece of chicken with that patented KFC crunch that – for all the hipster Tumblr posts to the contrary – actually takes some beating.

KFC go outside the box with reckless abandon - from Zinger Towers to KFC-scented suncream (true story) – but their original, no-frills fried chicken is about as good as you’ll get without having to pay £12 for a guy with neck tatts and indoor Ray Bans to serve you a two-piece and fries (“nah fam, chipotle mayo costs extra”).

That famous KFC batter also makes the Double Down pretty sound, structurally. As mentioned above, much like eating a burrito, the longer you can use the wrapping to keep things tight, the better. But let’s be honest, if you ordering a Double Down this weekend,  the chances are dining etiquette is not a primary concern. You’re going to do it because you want a sweet, salty, chicken-y version of the Bourbon biscuit. And if that’s what you want, you are not going to be disappointed.

The good news for Hereford’s burger trade – the Double Down revolution is on for another two weeks. Although at that point there is every chance KFC out that Fried Chicken Doughnut idea.

Get yours on Commercial Road in Hereford, or Netherton Road in Ross-on-Wye, from £5.79 with fries and a drink.

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*Two years’ ago, KFC trialled a Double Down relaunch in the States (it first went on sale there five years’ ago) as a Double Down Hot Dog, which saw the friend chicken bun bent in to a sort of hard taco shape, so that it could hold a frankfurter.

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