Apr 6, 2010 9:31 AM by MSNBC
To steal a phrase from a fellow fast-food chain, KFC is thinking outside the bun.
The chicken chain rolls out its Double Down sandwich this weekend - although some might question whether it really is a sandwich. It consists of two white meat chicken breast fillets with a filling of bacon, Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese with Colonel's Sauce (a spicy mayonnaise).
The company announced the rollout on its Web site with a ticker counting down the minutes until the national release.
The Double Down was test marketed in Providence, R.I., and Omaha, Neb., for a month last summer and public reaction was strong, company officials said.
The sandwich already has been a topic of late-night television monologues as well as postings on Internet message boards, some of which have contended the item was a hoax.
"It was extremely popular in test. Obviously it's a unique sandwich," KFC spokesman Rick Maynard said.
"For your real chicken sandwich lover, you no longer have to go to a burger place for a (not as tasty) chicken sandwich. This is so meaty, there is no room for the bun," Maynard said. The latter quip will serve as the catchphrase in an upcoming national ad campaign to announce the Double Down.
Pricing will be determined in individual markets, but Maynard said he expects the Double Down to sell "in the $5 range."
The Double Down comes either grilled or fried with KFC's Original Recipe. The fried version has 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1,380 milligrams of sodium. The grilled version has 460 calories, 23 grams of fat and 1,430 milligrams of sodium.
Current government guidelines recommend less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day for people over age 2. Most Americans consume about 3,500 milligrams daily. An entire meal should contain no more than 600 milligrams. Acceptable fat is about 65 grams daily on a 2,000 calorie diet.
The nutritional information certainly doesn't put it in the range of fast-food behemoths like Hardees's Thickburger, which tipped the scales at 1,420 calories. But it's not exactly a light snack. Has KFC heard from any nutritional advocacy groups?
"The thing about KFC is we have wonderful menu offerings no matter what you're looking for. If you want a more healthy option you can get a two piece Kentucky Grilled meal with two vegetables," Maynard said. "That is about 370 calories."
KFC is part of the Yum Brands company that also owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.