If you have been watching the Ashes this summer, you must be either suffering from chronic depression, or English and smug. But the misery being meted out by England’s batsman is nothing compared to the anguish I feel when there’s an ad break and I see one of those dreadful ads featuring the Colonel. Because once again, KFC is sponsoring the cricket.
Now, I understand that even someone with the misfortune to resemble Colonel Harland Sanders deserves to make some kind of living. And if KFC want to base their marketing around a guy whose most useful contribution to human civilisation was a warning not to wear an all-white suit and cravat combo, that’s their choice. But one of the world’s unhealthiest fast food chains as a major sponsor not only of the leading sport of the Australian summer, but especially of Twenty20, the form of the game that most appeals to kids? Are Cricket Australia out of their minds?
Well yes, given that Ricky Ponting’s still captaining their side. But honestly, how much more irresponsible can you get in the middle of a youth obesity crisis than taking payola from a company whose products come slathered in enough oil to re-choke the Gulf of Mexico?
Now, I like KFC. In fact, I love KFC. It’s delicious. I’d eat it at least once a week if I wasn’t a little on the portly side and reasonably interested in avoiding heart attacks. But every time I bite into one of their Original Recipe drumsticks, I taste not only that delightful explosion of chicken fat, but the acrid flavour of guilt. Because, like getting your eyelid piercing or watching Gossip Girl, KFC is just so obviously bad for you.
In some ways you have to hand it to them for sheer shamelessness. Their major response to the obesity epidemic was to take the “Fried” out of the name of their company, but not their product. That way we won’t have to see a word that reminds us that the fat we’re consuming is proceeding directly to our arteries for a sit-in.
I’ve always especially marvelled at their chicken meal deals, which come with chips and a potato and gravy and a bread roll, coupling their usual fat overload with enough carbs to inflate a sumo wrestler. Even their one concession to salad, coleslaw, comes dripping with mayo.
Just how bad is KFC for you? Well, I took a quick look at their nutritional information – from which they’ve mysteriously “forgotten” to include the RDI (recommended daily intake) percentages. So I looked it up – albeit on Wikipedia – and discovered that the recommended fat intake is 60g per day. Two pieces of Original Recipe chicken clock in at 30g. In terms of saturated fat – in other words, the stuff you really have to watch – it’s 12g of the 20g allowance. That, of course is without chips – a regular serve adds another 12g (6 saturated). So just 2 pieces and a small chips puts you close to the daily limit.
For children, of course, the RDI is lower – substantially lower, depending on their age. So it’s not unreasonable to suggest that a mere two pieces with chips could provide more than an entire day’s worth of fat. And that’s if you don’t eat the potato and gravy – although, to be fair, who would?
Now, I know KFC sells chicken burgers as well. They’re not quite as bad, but a Zinger has 18g of fat, 7 of which is saturated. Add bacon and cheese and it’s 23g and 10g. And while I couldn’t see the figures, I think we can assume the Nachos burger they’ve been plugging on high rotation is even worse for you. Even their new low-fat skinless product is 7g per piece.
In other words, then, nearly all of KFC’s menu items are extremely difficult to eat without coming close to, or exceeding, your entire day’s consumption of fat. It may not be quite as bad as cigarettes, but given the rate of obesity and heart disease in Australia, you’d have to ask whether they should be allowed to advertise to anyone, let alone to children.
And this is based only on two pieces of KFC, and many would eat more in a sitting. Let’s not forget that they sell it in a bucket – which can also prove handy if you eat too much.
The truly outrageous thing, though, is that at the same time as Cricket Australia is getting sponsored by KFC, they applied for, and were given, $750,000 for a programme to combat childhood obesity. This shocked me, and not just because when it was announced during the First Test, I had to see Mark Arbib’s face. At the same time as the taxpayer is giving them money to fight obesity, Cricket Australia’s also making a buck out of one of the companies that’s doing the most to add rolls of fat to our schoolkids’ waists. The hypocrisy is staggering, like a child who regularly eats KFC.
Of course, Nine are complicit too, although indifference to the suffering of ordinary Australians is only to be expected from the network that resurrected Hey Hey It’s Saturday. KFC sponsors not only just about every ad break, but the classic catches competition, for which the prize is a year’s supply of KFC. From memory, the fine print says that they calculate this at a weekly $27 voucher. Well, all I’d say to the winners is – enjoy it while it lasts, because eating that much of the Colonel’s finest, you probably won’t survive to the end of that year.
We should be doing more to protect our fat kids – and bugger it, we should be doing more to protect fat adults too, given the obesity epidemic. So, just as with Benson & Hedges, I’d like to see KFC banned from sponsoring cricket on health grounds – and ultimately, banned from advertising everywhere. Better still, I’d like to see everyone who orders KFC given a little personalised contract that they have to sign before they receive their “meal”. It should reads something like this:
I understand that the “F” in “KFC” stands for Fried.
I understand that my two-piece feed with chips contains 42g of my daily fat intake of 70g.
I understand that nobody actually eats the potato and gravy, and that it’s just the Colonel’s little joke. But I understand that if I do, that will be another 13g of fat.
I understand that the dinner roll I’ve inexplicably also been given is another 4g, and that the coleslaw contains 3g – or a whopping 14g for a large, even though it’s a salad.
I understand that KFC should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, and will therefore eat nothing but celery for the next 48 hours.
I understand that consuming this product more than once a year may make me look like the Colonel, or another cravat-wearer called Matt Preston.
And finally, I understand that the most nutritious part of this meal is the refresher towelette.
If we introduce a truth-in-ordering system like this, maybe, just maybe, people will make sensible decisions about their fast food choices.
God it tastes good though. In fact, it’s made my mouth water just writing this. Damn you, Colonel. And your cravat too.