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August 24, 2009

Chicken vs. All That Is Good and Decent


From an opened door in an SUV, a woman was yelling at the little talking box that takes orders at every drive-thru fast food joint. The Popeye’s chicken shack had run out of chicken, preventing her from getting a bucket of cheap food, as promised by the chain.


The box was silent. The shack itself stood empty and dark. A sign on the door explained that particular franchise had run out of chicken and closed. The woman’s loud complaints would have gone forever unheard by another living human had there not been a Tee Vee news camera recording it all.


A New York Tee Vee station reported that two stores had run out of chicken and couldn’t honor their $4.99-a-bucket offer. So they closed. The report itself was filled with people complaining and shouting at the darkened shack. When it comes time for reporting contests, it’ll probably win an award.


If Popeye’s suffered the humiliation of customers shouting that they couldn’t get cheap chicken, it paled next to what was unleashed by one of the chain’s competitors.


Kentucky Fried Chicken, conscious that its fried and greasy food might today be a turn-off, rolled out a line of grilled chicken and a snazzy promotion to stimulate interest. It would end in the tragedy of chicken rationing.


No one can say how word spread so quickly, although it appeared to involve Oprah. Sometime early in the summer, lines formed at KFCs across the country. People were waving in their hands coupons promising a free two-piece meal complete with two sides, biscuit and a drink.


It soon became apparent that KFC had underestimated what demand it would stimulate by offering free food. Franchises ran out, and the chain announced that it was suspending the deal. Plus, someone had hacked the Internet and printed off hundreds of free lunch coupons.


To prevent rioting in response to broken promises of free chicken, KFC took coupons and personal address information from people who had yet to redeem them. The information was sent to some great database at KFC headquarters, and after it was ensured that no one would get more than one free meal on the Colonel’s dime, chits were mailed to individuals that laid out a very specific time frame for which they could be redeemed.


Even as this new system was working its way through the coupons printed off by half the nation, something more insidious and chicken related was afoot in America’s Heartland.


Reports surfaced over the weekend that the Colonel was market testing a brand new sandwich called the Double Down.


Here is how a Double Down works – the filling consists of two slices of bacon topped by two pieces of cheese, and between them is a dollop of special sauce. That is it. That is the sandwich. Except for the bread, but in this case, KFC’s novel new take on the sandwich doesn’t include bread bookending the fillings. It comes with two pieces of breaded chicken. It is literally meat and cheese sandwiched between two pieces of meat. Here is how a Vancouver newspaper described the nutritional contents:


“The results show this one menu item can be estimated to supply more than the daily recommended allowance in fat (124 percent), saturated fat (117 percent), cholesterol (105 percent), sodium (125 percent) and protein (194 percent), as well as 61 percent of your daily recommended calorie intake.”


Naturally, the thing also lacks fiber, guaranteeing a nice, long stay for the Double Down toward the back end of your digestive system.


The reader is left to divine their own greater meaning from this – either in its entirety, or as parts of a sum. What should be clear here, however, is that in the final analysis the year Two Thousand and Nine may be the darkest yet in human-fast food chicken relations.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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