Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SURVIVAL SKILLS: Baconator vs Double Down.

A couple of weeks ago, the Double Down was brand new on the scene and made a huge splash on the internet. Two pieces of fried chicken instead of bread? Amazing idea. Horrifying. But amazing. I desperately wanted to try one and write a story about the sure-to-be-life-changing experience. So, I convinced my friend Jackie to go to KFC with me and give it a shot. Some time while we ate, I started to wonder... Which culinary assault did I like better? Sure the Double Down was pretty awesome, but how does it measure up to the previous standard of awful-yet-awesomeness? The Baconator has been destroying lives for over a year now, six strips of bacon at a time. How does this upstart Chickenator compare to Wendy's Bacon-laden Juggernaut?

At great risk to my personal well being, I've gone into the world and consumed some of the most awful things corporate America has ever offered. I have done this in the name of science and awesomeness. I cannot in good conscience recommend that you follow in my footsteps, but I also can't realistically ask you to ignore bacon's siren call forever.


Here's the math. I warn you, it's pretty horrifying. You have to walk into this comparison knowing both items are basically toxic to humans, so bear with me.

In one corner, you have the Wendy's baconator. Even though it is now available in single or triple versions, for purposes of comparison I'm going to consider the double - what I consider to be the "standard" baconator. Weighing in at 980 calories, 560 of which are fat, it makes up around half of the calories you should eat in a day if you're on a 2000 calorie diet. The Double Down is only 540 calories, 290 from fat. How crazy is it that by comparison to the baconator, this seems almost reasonable. By the way, if you're going for the Grilled Double Down, thinking it's healthier? It's a waste of time. Grilled is 460 / 210. So, granted you're shaving 80 calories of fat right out, but you might as well enjoy yourself. It's half a chicken covered in cheese and bacon. Nothing they do to dress it up will make eating this acceptable.

While we're doing math, consider this. The metric system is pretty great. You can measure things of all different sizes by just throwing a prefix on your unit. Take grams for example. Ordinarily, when you measure how much sodium is in something, you do it in milligrams, because grams are just too big. The Baconator and Chickenator nutrition facts both show sodium in milligrams. BUT THEY DON'T HAVE TO. The Baconator weighs 312 grams. Of that, 2.2 grams are salt. The Double Down is 1.4 grams of salt versus 241 grams total.

In terms of raw numbers, the Baconator takes the lead. It is almost DOUBLE the calories of a Double Down. That's like being a quadruple down! You can't argue with math like that.


Of the two, the Baconator is a lot easier to eat. The places where you touch a Baconator are covered with bread. Not so with the Double Down. You can pretty much only touch it where boiling chicken fat is happening. So you have to wait for it to cool off a bit before you can get fully involved.

In addition to not really being able to hold onto it, the Double Down is also kind of a mess to eat. Fried chicken skin, liquid cheese and delicious sauce go pretty much everywhere. Baconators in the wild certainly do not resemble their TV commercial representatives, but if you're a little careful they're at least edible without covering yourself in gross.

Something else to consider is marketing. The Double Down TV spots are a little ridiculous, and it was trending on twitter for a short time... But do you remember the print ads for the Baconator? There was one poster that was just a huge picture of it, with the slogan, "Careful, it can sense your fear." That alone made me buy my first one. I am all for rewarding clever marketing.


After careful consideration, I declare the Baconator the winner.

As long as you're going to go out and buy a meal that's terrifyingly awful for you, you might as well really enjoy it. Don't half ass it. Take your lunch to 11.

Wendy's has a long standing tradition of providing higher quality fast food than most other fast food places, and their dedication to killing you with bacon and cheese exemplifies this practice. And we're not even talking about the Triple Baconator. You can go ahead and try one of those if you're feeling strong (or depressed). 1350 calories, 810 from fat. I've had one. It took a lot of mental justification to decide that was a reasonable culinary decision. There may also have been some tears involved. But strangely, I do not regret it.

A short time after the Baconator first appeared on the scene, my friend Matt and I were going to suffer a baconator eating contest. We eventually scrapped that idea because we didn't want to die. Eating one baconator causes your very soul to palpitate with horror. Something inside you knows you've just committed a crime against nature. Eating more than one in a sitting is extremely likely to cause death to the unprepared.

Both the Baconator and Double Down are amazing experiments in lifespan truncation. Eating a baconator takes about a week off your maximum lifespan. This isn't in itself a valid reason against eating them. Baconators are delicious and filled with bacon. You shouldn't eat more than one every couple of weeks though. Give your body a chance to recuperate. The Double Down only takes a few days off your lifespan, so it's less effective at hastening your demise, but take heart. Eat enough of them and you'll still get there eventually.

If we're lucky, some day soon Wendy's will crush the Double Down by creating an actual Chickenator, with the same formula of X(Meat) + X(Cheese) + 3X(Bacon) = AWESOME, where X is 1, 2 or 3 and (Meat) is either grilled, fried or spicy fried chicken. When that day comes, I will be proud to join you all in eating another week or so off my life.

@nerdsherpa, your lifespan truncation engineer.


  1. The very concept of the triple baconator angers and confuses us. (actually, it is just flat out terrifying)

  2. Hello My Good Friends!!!!
    I've been a big fan of the baconator and was excited to try the double down...i agree hands down baconator wins(double baconator). I challenge you this...Pick up a double baconator than head over to KFC and get a double down. Open up the double down and insert double baconator (minus the bun) into double down...it is the TRUE WINNER!!!!

    Best of luck!!!! If you ever get the chance gotta try a Squezze Inn Burger!!!