The Biggest Flops In KFC History

Starting out as a small gas station restaurant in 1952, today Kentucky Fried Chicken — or KFC — is a worldwide phenomenon. In fact, the fast-food chain boasts over 25,000 outlets in nearly 150 countries (via KFC). And while KFC definitely has its staples, such as the famous 11 herbs and spices original recipe fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy, the franchise has been known to get imaginative with its menu items. And KFC is definitely not the only fast-food chain to experiment with its culinary offerings — we'll probably never forget Pizza Hut's Cheeseburger Pizza or McDonald's McLean Deluxe.

Over the years, KFC has made numerous attempts to entice customers with its imaginative gastronomic creations. And the results have been mixed. Some of the franchise's fleeting inventions have been huge successes, while others have earned their spot in fast food hell. However, the epic failures did manage to attract media attention, and, as they say, there's no publicity that's bad publicity. From artery-clogging hot dogs and nacho boxes to off-the-wall products such as edible nail polish, here are some of the biggest flops in KFC's history.

KFC's Double Down Sandwich

Dubbed the unhealthiest sandwich ever by FiveThrirtyEight, KFC's Double Down Sandwich consists of two slices of cheese, two rashers of bacon, and the Colonel's sauce, all tacked in between two pieces of breaded chicken. So exactly how bad is the Double Down? Surprisingly, the so-called sandwich only contains 540 calories (the equivalent of a Big Mac). But this is not where the problem lies. The gluttonous sandwich is packed with 145 milligrams of cholesterol, more than twice the amount in a Big Mac. It also comes with 32 grams of fat as opposed to 25 grams of fat in a Big Mac, and 1,380 milligrams of sodium, higher than the 970 milligrams in a Big Mac (via MedicalNewsToday).

The breadless sandwich, which was briefly relaunched in Canada in 2021, a decade after it was discontinued, attracted a lot of attention. John Linn from the Palm Beach New Times wrote that people were "both incensed and enticed by the sandwich's egregiousness" (via Thrillist). According to, the Double Down failed on both the taste and nutrition fronts, calling the sandwich "the trendy whipping boy for shameful American excess." Other imaginative reviewers called the offering a "fat grenade" and an "angina on a plate."

KFC's Double Down Dog

The not-so-distant cousin of the Double Down Sandwich, the Double Down Dog, was essentially a hot dog sausage wrapped in fried chicken instead of a bun. The creation was then drizzled with melted cheese. Unfortunately — or rather, fortunately — the stomach-churning offering was only released in the Philippines over a two-day period in 2015. And just 50 Double Down Dogs were made at each store per day (via Facebook). Thus far, there are no plans to unleash the chicken/sausage monster on the U.S.

At the time of release, KFC dubbed the Double Down Dog "a legendary dish for a legendary appetite." The franchise also released what they deemed to be appetizing promo pics of its new creation. Not surprisingly, and in reality, the Double Down Dog wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Reviewers soon flooded social media with unappetizing photos of the limited-time offering. You be the judge (via Food Beast).

KFC's Cheetos Sandwich

Available for four weeks in 2019, KFC's Cheetos Sandwich was a bright, orange burger that paired a fried chicken fillet with a layer of Cheetos. Mayo, pickles, and a hot sauce called Cheeto sauce completed the unsavory picture. The fast-food giant celebrated the launch of the Cheetos Sandwich with the introduction of a new mascot, a hybrid of the Cheetos' cheetah and Colonel Sanders called Colonel Chester Cheetah.

Messy and tricky to eat, the radioactive-looking burger didn't find many fans. Quite the opposite, the unusual offering received a rather frosty reception. Eat This, Not That! writer Adam Bible, who decided to test drive the burger, referred to it as all but inedible. "The chicken fillet was just too thick, and the Cheetos were too big and lumpy, making for an odd chewing experience. Perhaps worst of all, the star of the show — the Cheetos — were also slightly stale," he wrote. The Washington Post's taste tester Maura Judkis agreed, writing, "Against all better judgment, I ate this nuclear slime sandwich. So far, I haven't died. Yay!"

KFC's Kentucky Roast Beef

Unlike some other KFC flops, Kentucky Roast Beef's failure was not due to its unappetizing appearance or taste. The menu item was discontinued because KFC couldn't get chicken enthusiasts to switch to eating beef. So how did Kentucky Roast Beef come about? According to Retroist, KFC invented roast beef sandwiches in 1968 after Colonel Sanders sold the franchise to an investor group that expanded the chain from 600 to 1,700 locations and started to diversify its menu. The sandwich was sold at both existing Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets and new Kentucky Roast Beef outposts, which were closed in 1970. The roast beef sandwich lived on at Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets until the late 1970s.

The roast beef sandwich, which consisted of slow-cooked beef and a buttered bun, came with the Colonel's famous 11 herbs and spices and "the smoked-in flavor of the backwoods." While regular KFC customers proved unimpressed with the new offering, its price also turned out to be an issue. In 1968, the sandwich retailed at 79 cents. At that time, KFC customers could get a Jr. Chicken Dinner, consisting of two pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a biscuit for 85 cents.

KFC's Nacho Box

Believe it or not, there was a time when KFC tried its hand at one of the most famous Mexican specialties: nachos. And the market for the franchise's experiment was Australia. Debuting in 2014, the Nacho Box was made up of tortilla chips, popcorn chicken, salsa, and cheese. According to Insider, it didn't take long before the company started receiving complaints that the cheese was moldy. "We withdrew the cheese from our stores and replaced it with new batches," the company wrote. "KFC also took steps to increase in-store checking processes to prevent this from happening again."

The next big issue was the fact that the actual Nacho Box didn't look anything like the advertisements. The images posted on social media draw a picture of crushed tortillas, unidentified creamy blobs, and half-filled boxes. And the sloppy presentation left many KFC customers underwhelmed. Life Hacker explains, "It looks more like week-old garbage mixed with surgery leftovers." Meanwhile, Martin from Morsels wrote, "If you feel the urge to try it, make sure you bring some cutlery."

KFC's Chizza

Unleashed on the Philippines, India, Japan, and Singapore, Chizza paired two favorite fast food items — fried chicken and pizza — into something that shouldn't have ever seen the light of day. The KFC menu item consisted of a fried chicken base instead of pizza dough and was topped with ingredients such as tomato sauce, cheese, something called "chicken ham," peppers, and a signature KFC cheese sauce (via Insider).

Fast-food enthusiasts were quick to condemn the stomach-churning aberration, with Rahil Bhagat from CNET referring to the menu item as a "journey into regret." Bhagat then went on to describe his Chizza experience in more detail. "As the promo picture may indicate, the Chizza isn't the most pleasant sight. You probably won't be prepared for the smell that wafts your way, a combination of old oil and faint spice," he wrote. "Each bite of the Chizza showed me regret does indeed have a taste."

KFC's Scoff-ee Cup

Unveiled in 2015, the edible coffee cup was one of the biggest gimmicks in KFC's history. Made from hard biscuit and heat-resistant white chocolate covered in sugar paper, the sweet cup was infused with different aromas. Dubbed the Scoff-ee Cup, the offering was masterminded by the experimental food development company, The Robin Collective. "We've infused different cups with a variety of ambient aromas including 'coconut sun cream,' 'freshly cut grass,' and 'wildflowers,' " said the company's Co-Founder Brandy Wright (via FoodBev).

KFC's Scoff-ee Cup was launched in the United Kingdom to mark the release of a Seattle-based coffee brand at KFC's restaurants (via CNN). And while the endeavor seemed like a good idea considering the environmental impact of single-use cups, it was short-lived. Not only were the cups unhealthy (they were laden with sugar), they also melted. Upon being asked, the co-founder of The Robin Collective Robin Fegen admitted, "The hotter the coffee, the faster the cup will degrade. So maybe this isn't the best cup for your coffee that's straight out of the kettle."

KFC's Cheese Top Burger

KFC's Cheese Top Burger is exactly what its name implies — a fried chicken burger with garlic-parmesan sauce and a layer of American cheese on top of the bun. Luckily for us, it was only released in the Philippines and for a limited time. By far, the greatest complaint about the offering was that it was messy to eat. Get Real Philippines explains, "I'm quite certain anyone dirtying their hands with hot, melting cheese while eating their burgers won't find it a pleasant and comfortable experience."

The fast-food chain was quick to defend its 2012 creation, with KFC Philippines Marketing Manager Errol Magdato denying that the burger was difficult to eat. "That's the biggest misconception about the burger, that it's sticky and greasy. You can eat it like a regular burger," Errol told ABS-CBN. While Errol was optimistic about the burger's potential, insinuating that it was here to stay, fast-forward a decade, and it definitely has disappeared from KFC Philippines' menu.

KFC's Edible Nail Polish

KFC's "finger-lickin' good" motto became reality with the fast-food giant's 2016 launch of edible nail polish in Hong Kong. Available in two hues — red (hot and spicy) and a sort of beige with black specks (original recipe) — the chicken-flavored nail polish was supposed to leave you licking your fingers long after your visit to a KFC outlet. To make the experience more appealing, the product came in high-end packaging. KFC even came up with a video to celebrate the launch of what it deemed an exciting new product.

So what went wrong with KFC's edible nail polish, besides the questionable concept? Since the nail polish was made from natural — and edible — materials and contained no preservatives, it was only good for five days if refrigerated. According to the packaging, it could also only be used once, presumably because the bottle had been opened. And the colors were nothing to celebrate either, with the red said to be overly transparent and the olive green clumping after application. And finally the taste test: "The spicy flavor tasted almost exactly like the paste used in KFC's hot & spicy chicken. It definitely lingered on the tongue, but we couldn't detect any fried chicken flavor," (via BBC).

KFC's Air Kentucky

While in-flight meals aren't renowned for their culinary flair and imagination, KFC's Air Kentucky meal served on Japan Airlines marked a new low for in-flight dining. The meal included a tiny drumstick and chicken breast, a flatbread, a cup of coleslaw, and lettuce leaves. It's disquieting to think that even the promotional images of the meal make it look rather pitiful. However, it's lucky that KFC is so popular in Japan because the tiny portions wouldn't have been well received in the U.S.

The sad-looking meals were offered during the second meal service on flights from Tokyo's Narita Airport to New York, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston, Frankfurt, London, and Paris. KFC's Air Kentucky was served onboard Japan's national carrier for three months starting December 1, 2012, to celebrate the Christmas period (via HuffPost). Fried chicken is said to play a prominent role in Japan's Christmas celebrations, with many queuing outside KFC outlets or reserving their Christmas chicken meals in advance. The airline explained that 2012 marked the seventh time KFC made an appearance on Japan Airlines flights (via Tokyo Excess).