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KFC's New Sandwich-What Would the Colonel Say?

Tuesday, 6 Apr 2010 | 1:15 PM ET

Fighting childhood obesity is all the rage, as it should be.

It's become a major undertaking for the First Lady. Cutting out the fat in school lunches is the theme of Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" on ABC .

But, you know, it's a free country. We don't like being told what to do.

KFC Double Down Sandwich
Source: KFC
KFC Double Down Sandwich

Perhaps that's the thinking behind the heart-stopping Double Down Sandwich which KFC will unleash on the nation next week. "It's so meaty, there's no room for the bun!" A clock on the KFC Web site ticks down the days until the product goes public.

The Double Down consists of two fried chicken breasts sandwiching a couple slices of bacon, some cheese, and the Colonel's Sauce. The "Original Recipe" version weighs in at 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and nearly 1400 milligrams of sodium. A grilled, skinless version has only 460 calories and 23 grams of fat, but more sodium.

Hold on.

Gimme a second.

Ok, I'm back. I just had to punch myself in the chest to get my heart restarted after writing that.

Many people thought the Double Down press release was an April Fool's joke. It is not. This is real. But, hey, with no bun, the Double Down qualifies as low carb!

Is this the Colonel's way of flipping a finger lickin' bird at the nation's food police? "The Double Down is certainly a unique sandwich," company spokesman Ricky Maynard told me, which didn't exactly answer the question. He says the Double Down has the same amount of calories as a McDonald's Big Mac, but fewer calories than a Burger King Whopper (a Whopper has 640 calories? Really?) .

The Double Down tested well last summer in Rhode Island and Nebraska and ended up generating "more buzz than any test market item in KFC history". Javier Benito, head of marketing and food innovation at KFC (i.e., it's his fault) says, "The Double Down...already has such high consumer awareness, we toyed with the idea of making a commercial that just said, 'It's here!'" ?

So is the Colonel trying to kill us?

One might think so after watching last week's episode of "South Park" titled "Medicinal Fried Chicken." In it, the resurrected Colonel Sanders plays a Kentucky version of the Bolivian drug kingpin from "Scarface". Cartman is Tony Montana. On the one hand, the episode is great PR for KFC . The kids really wanted their chicken. On the other hand, the Colonel is portrayed as a ruthless killer. I asked KFC if it had anything to do with the episode. "As you might expect," Maynard replied, "KFC Corporation was not contacted by Comedy Central for permission to use our brand in 'South Park.' We had absolutely no say in the show's content." By the way, one thing I learned in journalism school is that you can't libel the dead. The Colonel is fair game. ?

If only the writers at "South Park" had waited a week for the Double Down to hit newswires. Imagine Cartman's euphoria.

And, in a way, Cartman is the target audience. Sure, KFC's Ricky Maynard points out the chain has "great meal solutions for people who are looking for lower calorie meals" like the 370-calorie Kentucky Grilled Chicken meal with mashed potatoes and green beans. But this is America. "We're proud to give our customers a full range of choices to fit their needs."

Good thing we're all getting healthcare.

Update:Reader Jason D. points out that the drug dealer from "Scarface" was from Bolivia, not Colombia. "Get it right." I stand corrected and this post has been updated with the correction.

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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