Friday, April 23, 2010

How do you take two pieces of fried chicken, cheese, bacon, and special sauce, and only get 550 calories? Deconstructing the Double Down

I flat out didn’t believe the Double Down’s calorie count. KFC claims the fried version of the sandwich has 550 calories, but intuitively, it just doesn’t seem to add up.

So this morning, I went online to see if the 550 figure was in the ballpark of believability. What I found surprised me.

The Double Down has four ingredients: two fried chicken filets, two slices of cheese, two strips of bacon, and “Colonel’s sauce,” which I’ll assume to be Thousand Island dressing. I’m not sure how big the chicken filets are, so to be conservative, I’m using “chicken strip.” Here’s how the calories add up:

Ingredient Calories

Chicken strip:                              117 (x 2)
Slice of cheese:                            94 (x 2)
Strip of bacon:                             46 (x 2)
1 tbsp Thousand Island Dressing: 31
TOTAL                                          545

When I added it up, I was shocked. Just using nutrition facts I got on the internet, I came within 5 calories of KFC’s figure.

The key here is that Thousand Island dressing is actually a pretty low-calorie dressing. In my mental model, I was assuming 100 calories for the dressing—in retrospect, a major overestimate.

Now, the X-factor here is the size of the chicken filets. If they’re roughly the size of a chicken strip, I’ll believe KFC. If they’re much bigger though, KFC may have some accounting problems.

I’m getting a Double Down tonight though, so I’ll soon know.

If there’s a moral of the story, it’s that you should never assume your “common sense” assumptions are correct without testing the numbers. What you’ll find can often surprise you.

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