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Hamburger Diaries: Jumbo Jack at Jack in the Box

Saturday, 28 August, 2010

Again I am doing things out of phase. I wanted to have a sit-down experience at The Box before reviewing individual items. This is not likely to happen.

Thanks to the internet, I’ve been picking up things about the prolonged, strange and curious saga of Jack in the Box for some time. The narrative would read:

  • Innovator of the Drive-thru
  • Expansion into Texas, and the immediate tripling of the chain, including the first 24-hour store literally across the street from the first 24-hour 7-eleven. (Austin, 1963)
  • Experimentation and growth, including renaming (Monterrey Jack’s) in a few markets, during twenty-or-so years of persisting without a solid identity.
  • The tragedy in Washington State, 1993. It could have happened at any of the major fast-food restaurants, but it happened to Jack in the Box.
  • Reorganization, focus, a new identity and unprecedented growth following.
  • and the parody-of-advertising advertising, including running television and radio ads nationally and in markets, like New York, where Jack in the Box cannot be found.

With that aside, during my rather annoyingly altered work schedule I found myself on a “lunch break” having not eaten for about thirty hours. While I may have gone to …

No, no, I work out in the prairies of Texas and anything other than fast food is simply not available without an eight-mile drive to the nearest Jim’s. I have not made the time to make reasonable meals that I can carry to the plant. So I wandered mere yards away to the edge of my employer’s industrial park to a Jack in the Box along the main route to Houston.

On this trip I purchased a Jumbo Jack and two tacos for 99¢ from the drive-thru.

The Jumbo Jack is made from inferior ingredients, including a patty which clearly is less than industry standard four ounces. Somehow the combination on this fully dressed burger is satisfying if not technically “good”. I have, within memory, tried the Big Cheeseburger, locally Big Texas for some reason, which is mustard, reconstituted onions, and two slices of cheese.  For under two dollars, these are respectable sandwiches.

I am somewhat envious of Jack’s ability to take very, very modest ingredients and compose quite good sandwiches. The frozen onion rings are actually pretty good, but that isn’t relavant.

The two tacos for one money, 99¢ down here, are similarly interesting despite their modest ingredients. If you aren’t in Southern California, Jack may offer the only fried tacos you can find. A Jumbo Jack and two tacos are not so much unlike a proper meal and tasty besides.

One Comment
  1. Graeme permalink
    Saturday, 28 August, 2010 10:43

    I do intend to get back in there to try the onion rings & the tacos. It seems only fair. You definitely nailed the burger description.

    I think I mentioned our foray to Del Taco. Their jalapeño rings are great. The deep frying really brings out the sweetness of the peppers. Tremendous! And actually hot. I appreciate it when fast food dares to offend the typical American palate. (I’d like to believe people are getting more adventurous, but I see too much mild salsa in the grocery to believe it.)

    The rest of it was fine. I will eat there instead, should I ever be tempted to go back to Taco Bell.

    They serve fries with their combos. They’re not great fries, but it feels more honest to me than TB stuffing their burritos with potatoes.


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