Jack in the Box: Bacon Ultimate CheeseburgerBy Todd • Apr 12th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog
Funny how we mythologize moments from our past. That girl I made out with in the Holiday Inn hot tub in college probably wasn’t as cover-girl gorgeous as I’ve built her up to be over the years. That last night in Paris in 1988, if I could re-live it, certainly wouldn’t be as wild and crazy as it looks in the rearview mirror. My 5 minute-chat with Russell Crowe was likely duller than dirt, but in my mind, we were thisclose to being best mates.
So it is with Jack in the Box, a fast-food establishment I’ve been to three times in my life. The first time was in Reno, October 2002. Just off a cross-country flight, in a rental car, I was hungry enough to eat my luggage tag when I saw the sign. I’ve never lived in one of the 18 states where Jack in the Box has their 2,200 restaurants, so I had no idea what to expect. And honestly, the ping-pong-ball-headed mascot didn’t set the bar real high at first glance.
Yet, a few miles down the road, I was in love. In 2005, I was road tripping to an out-of-state football game when I saw the sign again. Nervous that I had overhyped my Reno experience, I got seconds. The legend grew. But a legend is easy to nurture when it’s a once-every-3-year thing.
Fast-forward to last week, 204 miles from home on another long-distance excursion. And there it was:
I wished it hadn’t been attached to a gas station, but 3 hours into a 12-hour drive through the hills of Tennessee, I couldn’t afford to be picky.
Given Jack’s recent ranking among the 5 Unhealthiest Burgers, I was sure I’d be ordering the Sirloin Cheeseburger. But then I saw these words: “Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger.” It was like that girl from the Holiday Inn hot tub. I’m a weak, weak man.
In the car, I realized my first tactical error. I had been so jacked up about being back at the Box that I didn’t ask how the Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger- or “Bacon Ult Chb,” according to my receipt- was topped. (That’d be a cool name, by the way. “I’ll have the Bacon Ult Chub, please.”)
I saw mustard on the bun and a ketchup-mayonnaise concoction splattered inside the wrapper. Hmmph. As I learned later from Jack’s website, the Bacon Ult Chub (that’s what I’m calling it from now on) is “two beef patties topped with 3 slices of bacon, American and Swiss-style cheeses, Mayo-Onion sauce, mustard, and ketchup on a sesame seed bun.” (Guess which word I’m glad I didn’t know about BEFORE my third Jack Attack. “Swiss-style cheese?!?” WTF?!?)
Peeking under the bun, I was suddenly forced to wonder if I’ve been wrong all these years: the hot tub girl only “had a good personality,” Paris was boring, Russell Crowe thinks I’m a bloody drongo, and Jack in the Box is no better than the little pigtailed girl, drowning lame burgers in excessive condiments.
But as the highway unfurled in front of me, I sunk my teeth in. Ho. Ly. Crap. What a phenomenal burger. Absolutely perfect meat-to-cheese ratio. Outstanding bun. Good bacon. A little wet with sauces, perhaps, but I loved every bite. In fact, I’m ready to say that, in this case, a Jack beats a King. That’s right: the Bacon Ult Chub from Jack in the Box is better than BK’s Bacon Double Cheeseburger, my (former) gold standard for fast-food burgs.
But with locations in just 4 states east of the Mississippi, I only hope I don’t have to wait another 3 years to prove that theory.