Takeaway Truth: KFC Zinger Stacker And Kentucky Burgers

Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. Today: KFC's Zinger Stacker and Kentucky Burgers.

Fast food restaurants have been known to gild the lily when it comes to accurate depictions of their menu items. Far too often, the mouth-watering feast on the poster turns out to be a limp and oily morsel. In a bid to keep the fry-jockey overlords honest, we've decided to document the reality of fast food — it was either that, or go postal like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

KFC has revamped its burger range with two new menu offerings: the KFC Zinger Stacker and KFC Kentucky. Like the KFC Double and Parmy Stacker before it, they are being marketed as a plus-sized indulgence for people with big appetites, heralded by the slogan "Oooh yeah!" (Good thing "Macho Man" Randy Savage isn't alive to sue.)

Here's the overtly blokey advertisement for the KFC Zinger Stacker (the Kentucky ad is practically identical.)

The Kentucky Burger comes with an original recipe chicken fillet, coleslaw, crispy onions, two slices of cheese, bacon and smoky BBQ sauce. The Zinger Stacker ups the ante with two Zinger fillets, two slices of melted cheese, lettuce, spicy "supercharged" sauce and chilli relish.

According to KFC's nutritional data, a single Zinger Stacker contains 2993kJ of energy, 25.9g of fat, 57.3g of carbohydrates, 12.4g of sugars and 2257mg of sodium. The Kentucky, meanwhile, has 2603kJ of energy, 25.9g of fat, 57.3g of carbohydrates, 18.8g of sugars and 1890mg of sodium.

The Stacker and Kentucky can also be purchased in a boxed meal which packs in 5140kJ and 4750kJ, respectively. That's more than half your daily kilojoule intake in a single sitting. Like we said, big appetites.

The burgers aren't particularly cheap either: a standalone Kentucky costs $7.45, while the Zinger Stacker is $8.45. As with most KFC burgers, you're better off getting the boxed meal. (Financially better off, that is. Your health is another matter.)

Naturally, if you're going to pay over $7 for a single takeaway burger you don't want it to look like crap. The marketing images for the Zinger Stacker and Kentucky are suitably scrumptious looking. But as Takeaway Truth has shown us time and again, reality often paints a different picture.

Below is a split-screen photo of the Kentucky burger as it appears in advertisement and in real life. (Note: The marketing photo did not feature any objects that could be used for scale, so we're not comparing the physical size here. Instead, the images have been cropped to fit roughly together.)

Uh, where to begin? The real Kentucky burger seems to have a much thicker bun than seen on the poster — while this could be a trick of perspective, the marketing team presumably wants customers to think they're getting more fillings than bread, which is clearly not the case. The chicken patty is visibly oilier too, with a less crunchy looking coating.

However, these are small potatoes compared to the coleslaw — it looks completely gross and bears almost no resemblance to the poster. In place of the lovely medley of carrots, cabbags and mayo, you get a swamp of glistening, unidentifiable lumps which look suspiciously like hocked-up loogies. Lovely.

Truth rating: 4/10

Here's the Zinger Stacker, which has been given the same split-screen treatment:

This one isn't much better really. We suppose the chicken looks okay, but everything else leaves much to be desired. The sauce is not only less abundant but a completely different colour (for the record, they didn't accidentally give us the wrong one; it was definitely chilli.)

The cheese requires no critique — just look at it. While you can't see it in the photo, the lettuce was white and cheap looking with none of the poster's fresh greenery. All in all, a disappointing effort.

Truth rating: 5/10

Which fast food franchise or menu item would you like us to tackle next? Let us know in the comments section below.


Comments

    It may not look good, but the Kentucky burger was super tasty when I had it the other day.

    ...... Dammit, now I'm going to have to go to KFC for lunch. Damn you pre-lunchtime browsing!

      Same here, I had the Zinger Stacker and it was delicious

        Yep the Stacker is off the chain!

        I was surprised to see it get a bad aesthetic review here too. My two examples have been comparatively good. I don't care in any way about that (and I'm not sure why Takeaway Truth keeps getting a run but there aren't that many actual taste reviews) but I did notice that it was surprisingly aesthetic.

        Last edited 13/08/14 9:19 am

    I generally love me some KFC, but that Kentucky burger looks unbelievably disgusting.

    Out of interest, have you ever been contacted by any takeaway companies about these articles?

      We've never received any angry responses, if that's what you mean. One time I anonymously requested a press image from a PR rep and was immediately asked if I was from "Takeaway Truth". So they've definitely taken notice (I didn't get the image, incidentally!)

    ive had the kentucky (i have always asked without the coleslaw) and i haven't minded it as far as kfc burgers go.

    The disappointment is that tower burgers are not available. wtf is up with that!

      No tower burgers? When did that happen?

      /distraught

      Last edited 07/08/14 1:09 pm

        In the last few weeks; so basically it was removed from the menu to make way for these two.
        I always ate that, and now I just dunno what to eat at KFC anymore. Fire the All Star box, now the Tower Burger =(

          Tower was my go to as well.
          I tried a Zinger stacker and it wasn't too bad. Mine had way to much chilli sauce,
          So i think next time this sans chilli will be my new go to.

      Yeah the Tower was my boy but the Stacker has beaten the Tower for me.

    Was looking forward to a zinger stack this weekend after seeing the add - I only eat KFC about once every 6 months or so - so it was going to be a treat. I think I'm going to skip it.

      What? Because of how it looks?

      Your loss bro. They're delicious.

      I just ate a stacker, delicious. My one also looked better than pictured here. (from KFC near Central).

        ARGH - Might have to bite the bullet and try it.

    I wonder what type of retouching the stock photos go through =/ I tried the double stacker however, I didn't like it mostly because it was to spicy and I mostly enjoy zinger only because of their usual mildness, adding hot sauce ruins it imo.

    Last edited 07/08/14 12:37 pm

      Don't leave the country then, in almost every other country I have been to, the zinger is true to its name. It is wholly underwhelming over here, like most other 'spicy' burgers at fast food chains. The Asian version of the McSpicy is a completely different burger to here.

      Yeah I'm a mad chilli wuss and the Zinger is definitely super mild. Even the Zinger Stacker is well within my abilities. You make me feel good about myself lol!

      The product photos are created using expert photography and lighting along with all the 'food photography' tricks in the book (eg, the ol' hot water tampon under the product to create steam' etc). All photos are then processed (and in this professional setting I'd assume in Lightroom/Photoshop) and so would undergo stylistic choices and yes possibly 'touching up' to improve the look.

      Last edited 13/08/14 9:30 am

    think you got unlucky on that stacker burger, looks gross here but I had one the other day and it actually looked suprisingly similar to the picture.

    I actually really enjoyed the stacker - though I am a fan of hotsauses + cheese + loads of succulent chicken.

    I was not disappointed but KFC does charge way too much for it's lack of quality food.

    Why don't you include protein in the nutrition info? I asked the same thing on the chips article and though well there is probably only a small amount anyway. Here it would be a large amount.

      Cos that would offsite the huge amount of sodium, fat and calories and make it OK, right?

        It IS ok if you can fit it into your overall dietary requirements (which I can because I am beast mode) but to accept your perspective including the protein figures wouldn't 'make it ok'. It just seems a really strange knowledge exclusion. Why include all other macros and some micros but not include protein? Knowledge is power yo!

    willingness to die satisfied eating this burger- 10/10. Care for the truth 4/10

    Had the stacker a couple days ago and it looks a lot better. Best thing was the spicy sauce.

    They had a different burger with onion rings called the colonel or something. Can't find it.

      Angry Whopper has hot sauce and crispy onion. My current favourite fast food burger. It seems to have stuck around too which I'm super happy about.

    Had the zinger stacker yesterday and I thought it was great. mine looked a lot better than what you've got and the chicken was very very juicy.
    I guess there is a huge variation between stores.

    Not saying that the original images from KFC are not misleading, but.. what camera make model and lens did you use to take you're pictures, what lighting setup did you use for the shoot? Did you photograph the burgers at the same distance from the lens as they did?

    I have seen pictures of people as tall as the leaning tower of Pisa.. with your picture style comparison i could say that the person i have is as tall as the leaning tower of pisa..

    Ps yes im a photographer and yes i have never seen a burger that looks like the posted images.. but with this style of side by side "comparison" there needs to be some sort of lee way..

    The KFC pics look to have studio lighting and use a long lens and a shallow depth of field, your image looks like it was taken on an iphone at a closer distance and from a lower angle.. this would make the perspective all skewed.

    My 10 cents.

      The point of Takeaway Truth has never been about replicating studio conditions. Rather, we're comparing the appearance, size and number of ingredients. I think we can agree that no amount of photographic wizardry could make our Kentucky burger look like the one in the poster.

        As a photographer (or more accurately GWC) I agree with Michael that how you take the photo does make a massive difference. We do all agree that no burger would look like the one in the poster but as the poster burger is an image borne from photographic skill, so the 'truth' burger is an image borne of lack of photographic skill.

        It doesn't take away from the point of this article to acknowledge that fact. Personally (for this article at least), I thought the photos were quite reasonable.

    I don't get the significance of the motorised chair arm, is it going to fill him so much he will be incapacitated ?

      It's so big that he has to be hoisted up to eat it?

      Machinery is cool?

      Yeah I'm not sure either.

      Last edited 13/08/14 9:31 am

    Not KFC, but I was at Hungry Jack's last night and had me a Bacon Deluxe burger. Before I chomped into it I had a quick look at it and it looked like a pretty good representation of the poster. A little flatter of course, but overall it wasn't too bad.

    Did anyone know that at A KFC in Burton On Trent Staffordshire England has taken BACON out of their hamburgers? I will not B going 2 any KFC in Australia. They can pop their burgers where the SUN doesn't Shine.

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