KFC: support diabetes research by buying an 800 calorie, 56 spoonful of sugar "Mega Jug"

Mitch sez, "A KFC franchise in Utah is asking customers to help fight diabetes -- by purchasing an 800-calorie Mega Jug of sugary soda to wash down their meals."
The reaction: It's hard to imagine what KFC was thinking, says Joe Waters at Selfish Giving. Although after "the dreadful Double Down," it's no surprise these folks have "deep fried their reputation again." Give this franchise owner credit for wanting to do some good, says Jenn Savedge at Mother Nature Network. But why not tie the promotion to something healthier like, say, grilled chicken? Trying to link a drink with 56 spoonfuls of sugar to a health cause has to qualify as one of the biggest PR misfires ever.

Irony alert: Buy KFC's 800-calorie soda to support diabetes research (Thanks, Mitch!)

(Image: Ridiculous drink size, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from wyscan's photostream)


  1. They don’t mean they’re going to donate money – they’re doing primary research, and you’re helping when you get one of these.

    That’s why they have those signs to make sure you fast for 6 hours before and you drink the whole mega jug yourself. Other scientists couldn’t find an ethical way to run this experiment – KFC was the only research body with the right resources and a suitable methodology for finding volunteers.

    1. Your comment has my rolling with laughter…obviously someone you know has done the fast-and-then-load-up-with-sugar blood sugar level test. bleah! :)

  2. I just don’t get the giganta-soda thing. I really, really don’t get it.

    I’m the first to admit that I have a sweet tooth, but a 1/2 gallon of soda??? When I drink a soda — which I do every couple of months — a 12 oz. is more than enough to sate my craving for sugar…

  3. If you’re thirsty enough to drink that quantity of anything, you already have diabetes. Drink some water and go to the doctor!

  4. I don’t understand the hate for the double down. Personally I have never had one or had much interest in one. The foodies and health nazies seem to hold it up as the worse possible thing to have ever been produced. I suspect if I took a double down called it a chicken cordon bleu (which in fact it is), tripled the price and had a snobish server sling it to the elites that look down on the KFC label it would be declared a delight. When a negative article tacks on a double down comment it betrays the writers agenda against the KFC brand.

    PS if you read this and think about cooking your own chicken cordon bleu, skip the chicken and make the better choice of veal.

    1. Me either.

      Personally I think it was more media-fueled dipshittery than anything else.

      Yes, it’s loaded with fat and it’s a counterfeit sandwich (what, no bread?!? BUUURN THE WITCH!!!). However, fat is a better source of energy than carbs (bread) in that they are more difficult to convert to energy and thus are converted over a longer period of time (similar simple vs. complex sugars with complex being better as they are available for longer before being converted to body fat). This is why the Atkins diet worked for those trying to lose weight. Don’t get me wrong… a strict Atkins diet is TERRIBLE for you in the long run, but as a basic choice of what to eliminate from your diet, carbs are by and large the greater or the two evils. Plus, there’s a fair amount of protien in a double down.

      Of course, due to the amount of fat in one, it shouldn’t be a regular source of nutrition, but seriously, there are much more common foods out there that are worse for you and get much less flak from the media (re: chili cheese fries, ice cream sundaes, etc).

    2. “I don’t understand the hate for the double down.”

      This. I remember looking up the nutrition info when it came out here in Oz, and it was at least healthier than popcorn chicken, and comparable to a couple of other burgers on the menu. Everyone seems to get their knickers in a twist over the *idea* of it more than anything else, I suspect.

    3. PS if you read this and think about cooking your own chicken cordon bleu, skip the chicken and make the better choice of veal.

      Quit telling me what to eat you foodie health nazi.

    4. Thanks for the dose of sanity. As others have noted, you could buy a diet soda in this size, but that doesn’t let internet scolds (who are doing just as much damage to themselves, if not worse, by sitting on their asses in front of computers for hours a day without a break) recirculate a baseless meme.

  5. In other news, the biggest pharmaceutical companies have announced a program to fight drug addiction. They’ll donate $2 every time you buy a mega-pack of Vicodin or Oxycontin. They’ll also throw in a slightly-used hypodermic needle.

    How long will we as a society allow these corporations to prey on our community, our families?

    1. How long will we as a society allow these corporations to prey on our community, our families?

      Now I’ve never been to an American KFC but I always assumed they don’t actually _force_ you to buy giant amounts of sugary liquid? Aren’t people ultimately responsible for their own choices? I’m sure they would be happy to give you smaller servings of said sugary liquid or water, coffee, diet soda, what have you.

      (I once tried to drink one of those giant soda thingies at Burger King — after walking in the desert for hours — and failed…)

      1. These chain food shacks may not have a gun to your head, but good luck finding anywhere else to eat if you’re short on time, or lost, or impatient. Also, good luck ripping two decades of upbringing out of your head, to disassociate this crap with food, mentally.

        inb4 everyone tells me about the innumerable mom & pop hummus pop-up restaurants we could all be visiting instead.

    2. How long will we as a society allow these corporations to prey on our community, our families?

      As long as we let them? If you are dumb enough to hand over your money, accept the food they give you, and then eat it… I am thinking that maybe you share a non-trivial portion of the blame. I know, the advertising forced you at gun point, but maybe you could try using your ninja skills to run away.

      There is a lot of nasty corrupt abuses of power, and a lot of it is at the behest of corporations that alter and manipulate laws to make people do stuff literally at gun point. KFC offering to give you heart attack on the cheap isn’t one of them. That is just people being stupid.

  6. I’ve processed about that much liquid in an hour when i was road riding (bicycle) across Iowa in july, but i dunno about the sugar. I usu go with 1/2 strength gatorade + the occasional salt tab.

    I … damn. that’s a lot of sugar. blech.

    I’m predisposed to view nutritional labeling whinges with a sneering contempt, but things like this kind of bring the issues back into focus. I would have been low by >50% if asked to guess.

    1. You drink bottled cracksweat and you’re contemptuous of other people’s ingestion practices?

  7. i remember seeing some show about people getting gastric bypass surgery, or some such weight loss intervention. one of the dudes drank 4L of soda each day. it happens.

  8. While not the best choice for marketing, as a Type I diabetic I feel obligated to point out that the JDRF (which this promotion supports) is focused on Type I diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder, and is not caused in any way by sugar consumption. This soda is probably no worse and no better for me than say 1/2 a loaf of banana bread, or a large bowl of fruit salad. For type I diabetics, it’s all about the carbs, and making sure you compensate for them with insulin.

  9. This is supposed to go with family meals…

    Might as get mad at them for marketing a 12 piece meal….

    Not the best promotion, albeit.

  10. If you’re goal is to raise money then this actually makes sense. People are much more likely to up-size a drink than they are to order a healthy meal from a fried chicken shack. It’s almost like taxing cigarettes and spending the money on lung cancer research.

  11. Just a little quibble: I’m not sure about those figures. Assuming that ‘spoonful’ means ‘teaspoonful’, 56 spoonfuls would be 56×5 g or 280 g, or more than half a pound in American. At about 4 kCal per gram of carbohydrate, that would be 1120 kCal rather than 800. Either way, it’s roughly half a day’s calories, in a drink with no other nutritional benefits. Never mind the irony of fighting Type I diabetes by promoting Type II diabetes—this is just something no one should ever drink.

    1. Just a little quibble: I’m not sure about those figures. Assuming that ‘spoonful’ means ‘teaspoonful’, 56 spoonfuls would be 56×5 g or 280 g, or more than half a pound in American.

      Your math is a little off. According to the nutritional information, Pepsi, for example, would have 164 grams of sugar in 64 oz, or a little over a third of pound.

      You’re assuming that sugar has the same density as water (i.e, a 5 ml spoon is also 5 grams). Solid sucrose is pretty dense, but spoons don’t contain solid sucrose.

      But if you want to quibble, the soda actually probably contains zero spoons of sugar. Instead, it probably contains high fructose corn syrup, which most nutritionists think is probably even worse for you, give it’s metabolic pathway.

      1. Ok, the article claims 800 kcal, betatron’s link to KFC’s own nutrition PDF says 850 kcal, you’re claiming 656 kcal.

        This data should be verifiable. Where did you get your Pepsi calorie data? I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just always amazed at how randomly people assert numerical fact. Reporters are usually the worst, barely saying ‘oopsie’ when they mistake million for billion or vice versa. It’s only one letter, right? (eyeroll)

        Possible source of discrepancy: canned vs. fountain?

  12. Not to be a spoil sport here, but if they link the donation to grilled chicken, they won’t donate nearly as much dough.

    1. One main reason they tie it to a drink is that it cost them less, and makes them more to sell a drink than almost any food. and almost everyone buys some sort of drink, so it’s easier to upsize one than for a food item.

      Anyway, these buckets are so big that it’s obvious it’s meant to be a family sized drink.

      one last comment. I’ve always drunk a lot of liquids, it’s just the way some people are made. I’ve been tested for diabetes many times over the course of about 30 years and they said I didn’t have it. so, no, drinking a lot doesn’t mean you have diabetes, it means you MIGHT have it, SHOULD be tested, but not that you definitely have it. Just FYI

  13. Part of me wishes the guy was canny enough to do this to get huge publicity for the cause.

  14. I don’t think that’s a PR fail at all. It’s actually kind of brilliant.
    It’s part ironic acknowledgement and part compensation, like those CO2 compensation offers when flying: doing a bad thing and then doing something to make you feel like you are working on the problem without actually having to work on it at all.
    It’s an excuse for people to indulge and if you didn’t want to indulge you wouldn’t be tempted to buy that drink at all, so they seem to be quite aware of whom they are targeting

  15. The biggest problem I see with it is the delivery system. BIG drinks call for BIG straws – since common sense refutes the practicality of a carbonated enema.

    1. Kinkpedia says that it’s hard to hold a carbonate enema, and they make you fart. Great band name, though.

  16. Profit margin on healty food is at best 20-30%
    Profit margin on soft drinks is in the 200-500%

  17. Easy answer: Fast food places make the largest profit margin on the soft drinks. This is why when an order is messed up, protocol is to offer a free drink as compensation first.

  18. “You’ll have to pry my Mega Jug from my cold, dead hands!”

    “Yes. We know. That’s what we’ve been trying to explain to you.”

  19. When I was in my teens to mid 20s I drank soda pop at a ridiculous rate, at least two 32Oz large servings a day… Then, due to $, looking nerdy, relatives panicking over diabetic fears, etc. I quit. Drink maybe one or two cans a day at worse, more coffee for the caffine issue. When I have to drink a lot of soda I do soda water, but again it’s nothing like it used to be… Take note, half of that period was dietsoda, the other half regular…!

    And I’ve noticed NO weight difference and only a slight energy difference. Granted it’s not good to fill yourself with sugar or rather Corn Syrup while filling yourself with a ton of bread based processed food, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

    I DID, however, notice quite an effect switching from Diet to regular in mood/attitude. I think the artificial sweeteners are quite deadly and do subscribe to the “Conspiracy Theories” about them. Note, while a big boy I didn’t gain a pound (clothes just as tight/same size clothes next pair) switching to regular soda even in excess.

    I think much of the modern health problems are largely psychological, caused by stress of the modern world. There’s also an “Industry” around dishing out the pound of cure, so IMO some doctor diagnoses a person for a condition, starts treating them and they end up having said condition. It’s a toss up over whether it’s deliberately infected into them or it’s a dual delusion of “Cause/Effect”.

  20. In related news, when I was in the lunch room to get water at work the other day, one of my coworkers was eating one of those ridiculous Hungry Man Dinner For 30&copy microwave meals. The kind that are about the dimensions of a trailer, that would give me enough calories to hike the Appalachian Trail.

    I saw a little symbol on the box in the trash can, so I took a closer look. It was a ribbon telling you how your purchase is helping to end world hunger.

  21. To be fair, you could fill the ridiculously enormous cup with unsweetened iced tea and keep it in your fridge on a hot summer day. not that many people would do that, but it’s erroneous to assume that the container mandates the customer’s choice.

    1. Except for the fact that in any fast food restaurant, 8 of the 10 drink slots are flavored sugar water. The others being an empty, unsweetened tea dispenser, and one from which flows reused grey water they pump from the bathrooms. It’s not like this is happening in a Whole Foods, these places are specifically designed to sell you cheap, shitty food and drink. That’s what they do, and the only way to avoid it is the exit.

    2. Came in here to mention unsweet tea… if I could get a 64oz cup of that on the way to work every morning I’d be all over it. I have to settle for the 44oz size where I live.

  22. i know it was a tossoff comment, but please no more double down nonsense. check the nutritional info–there are plenty of fast food menu items more deserving of original content provider’s specific attentions. in general, ‘lose the bun and its junk carbohydrates’ is a good idea.

    i love giant drink cups at restaurants. then again i fill them with beverages that have zero calories.

    1. So get diet soda instead of regular. Problem solved.

      Problem not solved at all — at best you’re trading one problem for another.

      In animal models artificial sweeteners caused spikes in insulin production, same as real sugars, and this isn’t a good thing. And while the extension to human models is far from a given, what isn’t far from a given is the clinical studies that show artificial sweeteners confuse the body and can cause over-eating.

      So you may be getting less calories from the drink, but in the long run you end up with more. Again, not a good thing.

      To solve the problem, one of the best approaches is to make sure that people actually look at the research — as opposed to common sense and marketing material — when they make their food choices. A perfect example of this (in addition to diet soda), are the so-celled “lite” foods, in which fats are usually replaced with carbohydrates. Current research shows that these food are actually more fattening than the foods they are supposed to replace, but that hasn’t stopped billion dollar industries from sprouting up, keeping people fat.

      1. By the way, for people who are really interested in research into the “obesity epidemic,” I recommend science writer Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat: and what to do about it.

      2. Commonly-used artificial sweeteners do not trigger insulin spikes, unless you live in a petri dish. Nor do they trigger overeating.


        “No soda of any sort” is simple and consistent and makes anti-vending-machine and anti-fast-food campaigns that much simpler, but lumping diet in with hi-fructose drinks has minimal medical evidence. There are some areas in medicine in which the evidence is sufficiently ambiguous that you can choose whatever position you prefer and find strong evidence to back it up. This isn’t one.

  23. Plenty of people always comment in these kinds of stories that they don’t understand how people can drink so much, as they have here today.

    Good for you, but some people are thirstier than you. I never had it as extreme as some people (people much larger than I generally), and I’ve never bought an enormous soda, but I do go through phases of drinking a lot. It doesn’t have to be soda – it can just be water, honestly – but soda is usually the most enjoyable thing to drink, and the easiest to drink a lot of.

    As an aside, the only time I drink non-diet sodas (my main choice is Coke Zero) is when I’m in Thailand. The portions are tiny and they use real sugar (same as e.g. Mexican Coke) and it’s quite satisfying and refreshing on a hot day (e.g. every day in Thailand).

    I’ve tried doing things like carrying around a bottle of water and drinking a lot of water through the day, but I still have the urge to drink a lot later, and if it’s with a meal I prefer soda over plain water.

    I used to be a lot worse, but I can still go through three or four refills at restaurants. I do try to minimize these days, and ration more carefully over the course of the meal – I think spending so much time in Thailand changed my ways for the better in this regard.

    I have a somewhat stocky build (I’m not fat, I’m big boned ;) and I’m sure that being bigger or fatter contributes to needing to drink more. If you drink a lot of sugary drinks, then you’ll get bigger, and you’ll need to drink even more – a rather vicious cycle.

    My point is, it should not be a stretch for you non-heavy-drinkers to imagine how and why some people drink so much in a day.

      1. Maybe a food desert.


        To all those who say, “What’s the problem? No one’s FORCING you to consume this crap,” I say, Oh yeah? In some areas, corporate “food” mongers actually have forced out real, healthier foods, leaving the residents with few if any healthy buying options.

        The term “food desert” needs to become more common parlance in the western mindset. Its another form of heedless corporate abuse and malfeasance.

  24. All the comments about diet/regular soda have got me thinking.
    I wonder what the usual brands (Coke/Pepsi/etc) of soda would taste like if they were made with NO sweeteners at all.
    I enjoy sparkling water & sparkling mineral water (Topo Chico especially!) & I’ve tried both lemon and lime Perrier, and both Peach and Lime Topo Chico–they were pretty good once I got used to the non-sweet flavor.
    I bet unsweetened Dr Pepper would be pretty good. Is there anything like what I’m describing already out there?

    1. There’s always Pepsi Dry. It’s Pepsi, but with half the sugar -as well as half the sweetness- of the regular stuff. I don’t actually really like soda, so I can’t tell you how it tastes, but apparently it’s a little on the bitter side. The label itself boasts that it’s the 甘くないコーラ, or “nonsweet cola.”

  25. I love giant drink cups at restaurants. then again i fill them with beverages that have zero calories :)

  26. The last American Diabetes Association fundraising walk I went to announced that their next event was to be a pancake breakfast at IHOP.

    I have Type II, and I do like pancakes, but WTF?

  27. The fact that this promotion has to do with the JRDF and Type I diabetes, a disease which has zero correlation to sugar consumption, is a misfire for the OP. Type I people have to deal with enough ignorance already, I expected slightly better of BoingBoing. Slightly.

    That said, KFC has an awful record of trying to tie their unhealthy foods to various medical research. It’s more than a little disingenuous and sick, whatever the cause they are supporting.

  28. Cory, when this was posted to FP a month ago, someone pointed out that the signs advertising the program were fakes – ala Cockeyed.com – that a prankster had placed and photographed.

    KFC says they’ve never had a program like this.

  29. Uhmmm, you DO have the option of asking them for just seltzer… how likely that is? Not very… i had to walk the poor checkout counterperson through it (proving how little requested it must be). but the option DOES exist.

  30. Maybe they thought that creating more diabetics would help through having more people to research.

  31. PS: They sold these monstrous drinks before…. Would you rather some money go to a good cause or is no money better?

    Not that the irony is lost on me but, hey… something positive is better than nothing at all.

  32. Diet soda or unsweetened iced tea: zero calories.

    Mega-jugs are great – I can buy one on my lunch break and bring it back to my desk and sip at it for a good long time.

    Yet again, it’s busybodies tut-tuting and bitching about things they have no personal interest in or impact from that ruin it for other people. That’s why we can’t buy an extra large/super size drink at McDonalds anymore. And that’s also why we have California’s Prop 8.

  33. The double down is too salty. If it weren’t so salty, it would be the tastiest, healthiest thing available on the local fast food market here in Right Coast USA.

    But it tastes like a damn salt block. So close to goodness… yet such a fail.

  34. That policy’s is in good company. Von’s/Pavilion’s supermarket chain in LA had a huge promotion whereby the swipe reader would ask if you wanted to donate to the particular cancer research fund going on, (we called it the “cancer of the week” special) AND if the cashier didn’t ALSO hound you for a donation, then you got a free 2-liter bottle of any soda you wanted. (couldn’t be seltzer) Of course, the sodas are all sweetened with HFCS; any cancer’s clear favorite nutrient.
    This is all ultimately a corporation’s method of getting some easy moral cover, belying a greater collective disconnect about their own complicity. If they truly cared, they would be donating directly instead of eliciting donations from their customers, meanwhile checking their own stocks for causes/catalysts of the epidemics.

  35. The support is for Juvenile Diabetes. Juvenile Diabetes is NOT caused by sugar intake. Adult on-set diabetes is generally thought to be caused by too much sugar and too little exercise. People with Juvenile Diabetes occasionally DEPEND on sugar in order to recuperate from an insulin overdose. Adult (Type II) is not the same as Juvenile (Type I) and they are caused by very different factors. As a Type I Diabetic, this public misunderstanding of the differences frustrates me a great deal. People think I gave myself diabetes by being a lazy over-eater, but that’s Type II…

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