Archive for the ‘Epic Fail’ Category

Sweet Jesus.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

So, yeah.  As a reasonable human being, I was a little taken aback when I learned of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Double Down. If you’re not familiar with this (what I might call an) abomination, the description reads as thus:

This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel’s Sauce. This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!

No room for a bun?  NO ROOM FOR A BUN?  Do you understand what this implies?  A bun itself is superfluous in most fast foodwiches, any way.  When you’re scarfing down the 700 calories, and 35 grams of fat in a Mickey D’s Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel, is there room for anything in that sandwich equation that your body is ok with?  Is the bagel even necessary?  I say nay  nay.  It may taste good and come cheap, but it’s an exercise in masochism.  Ouch.  And no room?  If there’s no room for something, something else is wrong, kiddies.

Feel your heart flutter.  Photo from, all credits to them.  I couldn't bring myself near the thing.

Feel your heart flutter. Photo from, Broward New Times and John Linn, all credits to them. I couldn't bring myself near the thing.

The Double Down appears relatively harmless at first.  Despite the fact that it looks like a deranged prison chef pretty much just fried everything in the pantry and piled it into a sloppy, sadistic mess, KFC assures us that:

It’s 540 calories and 32 grams of fat.

It can’t be sooo bad, you may think.  What’s 540 calories?  You may say, that’s like, a little less than a third of my FDA certified recommended daily caloric intake.  Lemme skip breakfast and I’ll be golden, much like those crunchy, savory breasts holding my pig and cheddar sandwich together.

Again, I say nay nay.

City Rag checked out the Double Down and did some research of their own.  Apparently they got their hot little hands on KFC’s nutritional information and a basic calculator, and I’ll quote their math as follows:

2 fried chicken breasts at 360 calories, 21 grams of fat each, comes to – 720 calories and 42 grams…

2 x 1 oz slice of “Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese” at 100 calories, 9 grams of fat each, comes to 200 calories and 18 grams fat…

1 squirt of sauce 100 calories and 10 grams of fat (even by KFC’s calculations) and the Double Down is hit twice as you can see in the picture, comes to 200 calories and 20 grams fat…

2 strips bacon, equals 70 calories and 6 grams of fat…

For a grand total of 1190 calories and 86 grams of fat!

(I kept all the original links because well, it’s their research and not my own.  I’m too lazy to attempt like, calculations and stuff.  I retired my TI-82 when I got to college and the batteries corroded and vomited the nasty all over my little prized machine.  I was sad.  Just not sad enough to buy a new hundred dollar calculator.)

(Can you imagine if some mathematically gifted MIT undergrad attempted to turn the nastiness in this sandwich into an equation?  I’d imagine it would look something like:


photo credit: all Gwen Feldman, baby. It's my special MIT-approved equation.

Oh, my internet friends.  Why?  What is the point?  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Okay, I get that maybe it’s tasty.  I wouldn’t know.  But here it is; I slap you in the face with a riding glove and challenge you to try fruit for a full week.  The fat in the Double Down might just appall you once you’ve acclimated to healthier living.  It scared the crap out of me.

The funny thing is that when I initially read that the sandwich wasn’t so bad, I found the vegan take on it, and figured it might be fun to attempt a PETA-friendly fry up of the thing.  I may not be a vegan myself (I’m a vegetarian who cannot live without cheese), but well, I didn’t have to do the work to come up with the recipe. explains the recipe clearly:

Start by getting your kitchen stocked with vegan substitutes.

  • Gardein Lightly Seasoned Chick’n Scallopini
  • Lightlife Smart Bacon
  • Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
  • Energ-G Egg Replacer
  • Earth Balance Natural Shortening
  • Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack

You can replace the shortening with canola oil or even Crisco, if you feel like taking your life into your hands. Before doing anything else, I fried up about six pieces of Smart Bacon, and thinly sliced the Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack using a mandolin. If you don’t have a mandolin, a cheese slicer will do the trick, or a sharp kitchen knife if you’re really patient. You should also thaw out the Gardein patties, which are usually kept frozen.

The Colonel’s Sauce
No one has any idea what’s in this stuff, so I basically went for “yellow”. 

  • 4 Tbsp Vegenaise
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Mix it up until it looks yellow. Adjust as needed.

KFC’s 11 Secret Herbs and Spices
The actual recipe is a closely guarded secret, but this is close enough. I adapted the recipe from with vegan substitutes where needed.

  • 1 Tbsp sage
  • 1 tsp ginger root
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder or cayenne
  • 1½ tsp thyme
  • 2 Tbsp garlic salt, or mix 1 Tbsp salt + 1 Tbsp garlic granules
  • 2 Tbsp onion salt, or mix 1 Tbsp salt + 1 Tbsp onion granules
  • 3 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp powdered vegetable bullion from Rapunzel, or any vegan “chicken-flavored” bullion.
  • 1 pack of McCormick Thick & Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix (available at Safeway), or 1 packet of any vegan tomato powdered instant soup.

Grind into a fine powder using a food processor or blender, and set aside.

Making the batter and deep-frying it all up

  • 3 Tbsp Ener-G egg replacer
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened, plain soy milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg replacer, water, canola oil, and soy milk. This is your “eggs and milk” batter.

Now is a good time to get your deep-frying apparatus into gear. If you own a deep fryer, you know what you’re doing here. For everyone else: melt the whole box of Earth Balance shortening in a wok or cast-iron pan on medium heat. Top it up with canola oil if the pool of oil isn’t deep enough.

Next, thoroughly mix together the flour with the “secret” herb and spice mix that you made earlier. Spread out the flour mix onto a long sheet of baking paper.

You basically want to coat the living hell out of the Gardein patties, then deep fry them until your kitchen smells like KFC. So: take a patty, dip it in the batter, then roll it in the flour/spices until it’s completely coated. Then take the same patty and repeat; you want to coat the coating.

Finally, drop in your patty and deep-fry it for a few minutes, until golden brown. You can test out your oil beforehand with a small glob of batter and flour. You really don’t want to cook them for too long!

Putting it all together then nomming the shit out of that
Now you’re ready to assemble your Vegan Double Down: two slabs of fried fake chicken, stuffed with fake bacon, fake cheese, and fake “Colonel’s Sauce”. Make it look pretty.

You will eat about half of this before realizing what a mistake it’s been. But until that moment, it will taste like sweet, deep-fried heaven.

(by the way, all images in the above quotations (except my equation) were ganked directly from  They get all credit.  You may have noticed this, but no image in this entry is mine.  They all come from very nice, hopefully reasonable and non-litigious sources.  Hey, I try to give credit where it’s due.  Please don’t sue me.)

Believing that a vegan version would only be a healthier incarnation of this (and I hesitate to call it a) sandwich, I was set to try it out and blog about it.

I dunno.  After reading about the gravestone-friendly stats on the amended version of the Double Down’s nutrition list, I can’t bring myself to try even a milder version with fake meat, as it’s still an exercise in yuck.  See, I’d have to eat the thing, just so I can relay how it could still taste like it was dredged out of the delicious depths of a thirty year old, lard seasoned deep fryer, and I just can’t do that.  It would hurt me, I think.  I love my readers (apparently there are many of you, though you rarely comment), but I don’t love you enough to justify a stroke at the age of thirty-five just because I choose to play a game of tennis and it’s taxing enough to kill little ‘ol me.  If the actual Double Down is that bad, then the vegan play on it couldn’t be too far behind.  Just…no.

Soooo…have any of you tried the Double Down?  What do you think of it? I won’t judge, I promise.  It ain’t my place.  Let me know.  Photos are strongly encouraged.


Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Unless you’ve been living in a sensory deprivation chamber, you’ve probably heard of the Sham-Wow.  You know, those super towels that apparently soak up gallons of liquid, save you from ever having to purchase rolls of Bounty again, and, judging from the cool enthusiasm of Sham-Wow pitchman Vince, can pretty much save the world and cure leprosy and dishpan hands.  Don’t get too excited.  I’m not reviewing the Sham-Wow, exactly.  Technically.

I usually try to avoid purchasing anything “as seen on TV.”  I had a bad experience with a Rainbow Brite record album back in 1986 and then again with some Time Life books as a young teenager in the early 90′s.  These events pretty much cemented my family’s deeply held belief that things ordered off television are instruments of the devil.  The deviiiiiiil.

Of course, there was no contingency for the physical “As Seen on TV” aisle in Target.  Oh yes.  All those BumpIts, Slap Chops, and Strap Perfects that were easily resisted on the small screen are suddenly so much more accessible in person.  And of course, there are the Zorbeez.

Zorbeez towels are essentially twin to Vince’s Sham-Wows, except they’re hawked under a different name by the late, exuberant Billy Mays.  Clad in his iconic blue shirt with a vocal volume cranked to 11, Mays said it like he meant it.  It’s hard not to put at least a little faith in someone who extolled the virtues of a product so, well, loudly.

So yes, I paid Target ten big ones for my pack of Zorbeez.  And I was really, really keen to put them to the test.

Photo Credit: Gwen Feldman

Photo Credit: Gwen Feldman

I ripped open the Zorbeez pack as soon as I arrived home.  I filled a coffee mug with tap water, and upended it over my kitchen floor, as you’ll see in the photo to the right.  I added the fish net to create a more cohesive, aquatic theme.  And because well, I was sort of bored and it was there.  (For some reason, the fish net is Willow’s favorite toy; it’s not unusual to see her stalking around my flat with it (quite elegantly) clenched in her teeth, and we tend to find it everywhere.)

I didn’t include the next photo, which was simply the first view of the large Zorbeez towel placed over the puddle of water and fish net.  It wasn’t that exciting.  The real test was about to begin.

Photo Credit: Gwen Feldman

Photo Credit: Gwen Feldman

Pressing the Zorbeez into the puddle of water, I half expected to hear a giant sucking sound as the towel defied physics and hoovered up the mess in a flash (and perhaps a few squares of my tacky kitchen linoleum for good measure).  Instead, the towel just got really, really wet.  And to my dismay, the floor stayed that way, too.  I poked at the Zorbeez.  I swished it around some more in the minor lake I had created.  The water simply spread further across the floor.  In the photo to the left, you can see that the towel is a sodden mess.  It’s difficult to make out the water on the floor because well, I took the snapshot with my Blackberry and it’s not exactly National Geographic approved gear.

Unwilling to accept defeat, I referred to the instructions, which I hadn’t read before, because who reads directions to use a towel?  Oddly, there was something I overlooked; apparently Zorbeez only perform to their full potential of they are dampened first.  Yes, I see the inherent flaw in logic there too, but I was dumb enough to purchase the Zorbeez in the beginning of this wet disaster.

I repeated the experiment but misted the next towel with a spray bottle before plunging it into the water.  The results were equally abysmal.  In the end, the only towel up to the task of drying my floor was my oversized bath towel that I bought freshman year in college.

Upon closer scrutiny, I noticed something interesting about Zorbeez shammies.  They seem to be made of really cheap felt.  Remember when you were a kid in preschool, learning about weather, mittens, and brushing your teeth?  Chances are that your teachers used felt boards to illustrate these concepts with pre-cut, felt objects placed on the boards.  These towels were made of the same stuff, though I honestly think they’re not even story time worthy.  Hold them up to the light, and you can sort of see through them.

While felt is a great tool to teach the uninitiated, I can’t see it used to suck a liter of cola out of berber carpet.

I gave Zorbeez one last chance tonight.  We’ve been a little lazy here at the Apply Yourself Product Lab, and the resulting Giza-sized pyramid of dirty dishes has been nothing short of pants-wetting-terrifying.  He washed.  I dried.  I attempted to use my Zorbeez shammy towels.

Again, I tried both a regular, dry Zorbee (is that the singular form?) and another that was pre-misted with water.  I saw no difference in performance between towels.  At first, I thought that maybe the dry Zorbee was actually absorbing water from my ceramic bowls, but it turned out that I was just holding the dinnerware too closely to myself and it was rubbing against my sweatshirt.  Yes, my hoodie was more effective on my dishes than the Zorbeez.  There was no difference on plastic, Pyrex glass, or metal.  The Zorbeez failure was officially epic.

I haven’t quite figured out if there is an alternative use for my Zorbeez.  Hang them from the ceiling in lieu of Tibetan prayer flags?  Too ghetto.  Cut into smaller squares for coasters?  Wouldn’t go with my decor.  Sew into clothing for Willow?  I’m pretty sure that’s animal cruelty.

I have a feeling my Zorbeez will be collecting dust next to my copy of The Fountainhead and the Fairy Tarot Cards I bought ten years ago.

Would I ever recommend Zorbeez?  Only if I really, really didn’t like someone.