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7 Secrets Jack in the Box Doesn't Want You to Know

From mystery meat to marketing flops.

Jack in the Box has been around for 70 years now, and since it was founded back in 1951, the West Coast-based fast-food chain has become the fifth-largest burger chain in America and a favorite for millions of diners.

And while the company is doing well, with thousands of locations and revenues of over a quarter billion dollars in the last quarter, there are still some things they'd rather keep away from customers.

For more, check out 11 Secrets Popeyes Doesn't Want You to Know.

The meat in the tacos is not pure beef

jack in the box tacos
Jack in the Box/Facebook

Jack in the Box is famed for its low-cost tasty tacos, but the way they keep those costs so low will surprise many who think they're biting into ground beef. According to Your Vegan Journey, the meat is actually a blend of beef, chicken, and "textured vegetable protein," a soy-based ingredient that has a texture much like beef but is anything but. And if you look at the description of the tacos on the chain's site, no claims are made that the filling is actually beef.

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The chain suffered serious backlash for a TV commercial

jack in the box mascot
Jack in the Box/Facebook

In 2018, at the height of the #MeToo era, Jack in the Box released a TV commercial dripping with sexual innuendo in which the word "bowls" was used as a metaphor for male anatomy. In fact, according to CBS News, the ad featured more than a dozen such references, and the company was criticized for its tone-deaf marketing.

A horrible E. coli outbreak in 1993 nearly ruined the brand

ground beef

Nearly 30 years ago, Jack in the Box was responsible for one of the worst outbreaks of food-borne illness in American restaurant history, labeled the "outbreak that changed the way Americans eat." Meat contaminated with E. coli was distributed to more than 70 restaurants where issues with undercooking exacerbated the problem. In all, four people died as a result of eating the tainted meat and more than 730 people were sickened. The ensuing fallout nearly bankrupted the company.

The chain had trouble expanding on the East Coast

closed sign

While Jack in the Box has thousands of locations and is an overall successful chain, its restaurants haven't been as popular in the eastern parts of the United States. According to Mashed, struggling sales led to the closure of hundreds of east coast and Midwest locations several decades ago, and the chain has never tried a major eastward expansion again.

The Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger is a health nightmare

jack in the box bacon ultimate cheeseburger
Courtesy of Jack in the Box

If you value your heart or arteries at all, never eat a The Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger—590 of the 930 calories in this behemoth are derived from fat. It has 25 grams of saturated fat. It is swimming with cholesterol. And one of these burgers delivers a staggering 1,590 milligrams of sodium.

The restaurant has axed a number of popular menu items

jack in the box deluxe fish sandwich
Jack in the Box/Facebook

Jack in the Box has long offered fan favorites like their cheap tacos and all-day breakfast, but in years past they also offered things like the Moby Jack fish sandwich and the Fring, released in 1979, which was a mix of French fries and onion rings in the same foodstuff, according to Delish.

The company tried its hand at upscale dining and failed

jack in the box
JJava Designs/Shutterstock

In 2004, Jack in the Box tried its hand at more upscale dining, testing a casual restaurant concept called JBX Grill. According to Fox News, the experiment was an abject failure, costing the company millions and hurting its stock value.

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Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven