Dammit! In my hurry to get to the In-N-Out Burger in Las Vegas, I completely forgot my other fast-food mission: to try the legendary KFC Double Down! The good news is, I'm heading back down to the U.S. this weekend - this time to ride the roller coasters at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (if you haven't been, you haven't yet been on a proper coaster). Must... remember... to eat... Double Down...
Speaking of which - since the Double Down is one of my favourite topics here, I make it a point of pride to not miss any news on this king of chicken sandwiches. And for once, some good news: the Double Down is nowhere near the worst thing you can eat!
The Washington Post ran a story yesterday (it's behind a subscriber wall, so here's the accessible version) detailing some of the unhealthiest meals available at American restaurants. The Double Down, with its 540 calories, is "almost health food," the newspaper reported.
By pure calories and fat content alone, The Cheesecake Factory's pasta carbonara is the worst thing on the Post's list. It has 2,500 calories (or 500 above the entire daily recommended amount) and a killer 85 grams of saturated fat (versus the 20 recommended). As one expert puts it, "Four adult men would have to share this entree in order to each stay within a day’s worth of saturated fat."
One thing to keep in mind with this particular list, though, is that it's not really comparing apples to apples. Most of the food items on the list are found at restaurant chains, like The Cheesecake Factory, that aren't really fast food. My loose definition of fast food is a place that doesn't require you to sit down and where your food takes less than five minutes to arrive. Most of the places on the list, with the exception of Quizno's, Domino's and Chipotle, therefore don't qualify as fast food.
Interestingly, these chain restaurants are obviously held to a different standard, which the Post story illustrates nicely. While KFC got tons of press, mostly bad, for its Double Down abomination, nobody really notices just how unhealthy many of these so-called family restaurants are. I'm all for freedom of choice and if people want to eat these kinds of caloric monsters, by all means we should let them, but the media really should treat them the same even though they're essentially different.
And to bring this back to In-N-Out Burger, a reader posted a comment the other day that was absolutely illuminating. "Rimas" pointed out that the chain actually has a secret menu beyond the four simple options advertised, including the "animal style" burger that is cooked in mustard with extra toppings, and the Flying Dutchman, which is a double burger that comes with no bun. And then there's the king, the 20/20!
There are also biblical passages on the insides of wrappers, something I didn't notice in my visit, owing to the owners' strong religious beliefs. The chain is still privately held by the Snyder family and apparently treats (and pays) its employees better than usual. Then there's also the weird thing about how the palm trees outside restaurants are always crossed...
All of this adds up to one really interesting business. I wish I had known all this before setting out. As it stands, I can't wait to get back to the west coast and eat at In-N-Out again.