Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Patton Oswalt Revisits the "Famous Bowl"

As discussed here Patton Oswalt has given the folks at KFC a run for their money with his searing take on their "Famous Bowl." In his AV Club blog, Patton explains his fascination with the product.

Would that I could forget that fateful evening in the autumn of 2006 when I first heard the shrieking, beckoning clarion call of Kentucky Fried Chicken's Famous Bowl. I was fast-forwarding through the commercials of a Tivo'd episode of The Venture Brothers. The commercial for the Famous Bowl came on. I thought it was a Tim & Eric sketch.

It wasn't. Kentucky Fried Chicken had filled a bowl with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, breaded chicken, and finally, cheese. Shut-ins, people afflicted with Prader-Willi Syndrome, and manic-depressives also do this. If you're trying to make a fortune in the food and beverage industry, those are the three demographics to shoot for—the Famous Bowl is one of the bestselling items on the KFC menu.

KFC calls it their version of the shepherd's pie. Shepherds in Kentucky must be full of rage and slathered in confusion. They must hang their fat, skin, and muscles from bones carved with runes of surrender.

I must've watched the commercial a dozen times. It looked like a self-shot (but well-cut and -lit) video that someone would make as they prepared to commit suicide. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I didn't think the implosion of society would be so funny.

As stated previously, I firmly believe that Oswalt's uproariously funny stand-up bit forced KFC to backpedal furiously on their marketing strategy. Subsequently, they reintroduced the quaint, old-fashioned notion of cutlery. Perhaps in some vain attempt to co-opt their fiercest critic, they have honored him with a bobble-head doll. But the AV Club went a step further and convinced Oswalt to actually taste test the product he has so famously skewered. It did not go well.

The Famous Bowl hit my mouth like warm soda, slouched down my throat, and splayed itself across my stomach like a sun-stroked wino. It was that precise combination of things, and so many other sensations that did not go together. At all.

The gravy, which I remembered as being tangy and delicious in my youth, tasted like the idea of blandness, but burned and then salted to cover the horrid taste. The mashed potatoes defiantly stood their ground against the gravy, as if they'd read The Artist's Way and said, "I'm going to be boring and forgetful in my own potato-y way!" The corn tasted like it had been dunked in fake-corn-flavored ointment, and the popcorn chicken, breaded to the point of parody, was like chewing a cotton sleeve that someone had used to wipe chicken grease off their chin.

The cheese had congealed. Even in the heat and steam of the covered Famous Bowl, it had congealed. I stabbed it with the tines of my spork and it all came up in one piece. I nibbled an edge, had a vision of a crying Dutch farmer, and put it down.

I managed three or four more spoonfuls, trying to be fair. I am not the healthiest eater, but this was a level of crap I hadn't earned a belt in yet.

Perhaps some obscure, meritorious rank for eating dare-devilry will be the chotchky KFC attempts to ply him with next.