I’ve been a fan of theoretical à la carte cable television for years because I never understood that you had to buy the whole package just to get the good part. Mostly, access the internet provides services such as Netflix and Hulu—and, um, appropriated programming has been the best loner, screen-oriented, one-step-removed cultural experience of my life.
Until I saw the commercial for KFC’s cheesy bacon bowl.
There I was, innocently cadging some freaky TV on Hulu, when the ad for this strange concoction—available, apparently, only in limited markets—hit me.
Many are the things I wish found a limited market in Santa Fe, but the cheesy bacon bowl is not one of them. And yet a sign hanging outside KFC confirmed it—with a photograph of this heaping pile of potatoes, corn, cheese, gravy, bacon, chicken, immediate weight gain and increased chance of cardiac arrest. I guess you take the veneer of exclusivity whereever you can get it, especially since a reader was recently so nonplussed with an upscale chicken dish I had recommended that he proposed KFC as a superior alternative.
Not being a big fan of fast food, excepting the occasional chile relleno burrito from Burrito Spot, I had pretty much forgotten what the experience was like.
Things I did not know:
It takes, like, a minute to receive the cheesy bacon bowl, after ordering it at the drive-through. (I was alarmed at the speed, but the dude working the window apologized for the slowness.)
You get a spork with your food at KFC.
Physically eating the famous cheesy bacon bowl would be the absolute worst food-related experience of my entire life and a close contender for worst experience ever, of any kind. The thing is mushy, salty, watery and has the general texture of something you might be forced to put your hand in at a low-brow haunted house. I would rather set my hand on fire and eat it in a sauce of oozing flesh than choke down another famous cheesy bacon bowl.
My experience, of course, stands at odds with the really happy, healthy people who knock these things back like thickened tequila shots on sporks in the advertising campaign. Hiring actors to feign enjoying these things is a lot like pretending that the cheesy bacon bowl is actually famous.
The ingredients are like a hit list of the world’s worst industrialized food practices:
Potatoes: The overgrowing of the russet potato, largely for fast-food applications, has created an almost unstoppable disease problem that, of course, props up the pesticide industry.
Corn: I don’t think I even have to explain this one (see King Corn if you don’t get my innuendo).
Cheese: We already have too much of it in our diets, and too much of it arrives via water-intensive, animal-insensitive superdairies.
Bacon: A crueler meat-processing situation than the one pigs endure can hardly be found, but if something had to compete for pure nastiness, it would be: chicken. KFC plows through 850 million chickens every year.
I won’t be revisiting my KFC experience; however, it was a hard reminder that—for all the local food movements, farmers markets and general respect for quality ingredients—the battle against multimillion-
dollar corporations, obesity and laziness is less “uphill” and more of a sheer, overhanging cliff.
I think I’ll stay away from Hulu for a while as well.
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