Love your fat-laden fast food offerings, but watching your carb intake? KFC has the meal for you — spruiked far and wide in a marketing blitz costing the company virtually nothing.

Nutritionists are lining up to condemn the US-invented Double Down bun-less burger, featuring bacon, sauce and two slices of cheese between two pieces of deep-fried chicken. As The Daily Telegraph reports today:

“The 212g original recipe version has 1939kj and 22.3g of fat, while the 232g Zinger version packs 35.7g of fat 2515kj, well more than a quarter of the average daily adult intake of 8700kj.”

Kathy Chapman, nutrition program manager at The Cancer Council, told Crikey today: “It’s very disappointing to see KFC introducing burgers that pack such high levels of salt and saturated fat rather than taking steps to improve their menus.

“We need the fast food industry acting more responsibly and not selling burgers that provide over 80% of our daily salt requirements and 70% of our saturated fat requirements in just one burger meal.”

The bad press is mounting. After a storm of controversy in the US when it was released there, noted nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton told News Limited papers today it was “horrifying”, while nutritionist and author Susie Burrell dubbed it “gross overconsumption”.

But does KFC care?

Its press release yesterday — declaring a “Month of ManTime” for “one of the ‘manliest’ burgers around” — sparked a flurry of free publicity that had executives of the Yum! Restaurants empire licking their lips. By 11am this morning, Media Monitors counted almost 100 mentions of the Double Down heart-stopper across print and broadcast media. Radio stations gave it more than 50 plugs, while 25 mentions were found on news websites across the country.

For tabloid papers, it was hard news. There were “stories” this morning in most of the metropolitan dailies, from an almost-full-page promo on page seven of The Courier Mail to a half-page splash on page five of the NT News. The Advertiser, Herald Sun and Geelong Advertiser all had it covered…

To cut through the fatty headlines, KFC offered (unscientific) “research”. As its press release noted:

“With 47 grams of protein but less fat than most popular burgers, ‘The Double’ Original is an option for times when men are with their mates, are hungry, and need something to satisfy the hunger a regular burger simply cannot fill. With the majority of men saying ManTime happens only once a week, this cheeky treat will definitely satisfy…

“Research also revealed that a favourite ManTime activity is eating. And manly eating just wouldn’t be the same without meat — three out of four men thought their idea of a perfect ManTime meal had to include meat, and that same percentage looked forward to choosing what they wanted to eat. With this in mind, KFC felt they had a duty to provide a manly meal for the men of Australia and provide the ultimate ManTime indulgence — The Double, the burger of choice for the men of Australia.”

And anyway, as Brisbane construction worker Jason McDonald told The Courier Mail:

“I wouldn’t eat it all the time. It’s a special treat. The kids would like it more, I think.”

Even as a treat, KFC has a hit on its hands.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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