Jack in the Box Ups Stakes in the Fast-Food Arms Race

Let the Triple Bacon Buttery Jack give you a new lease on arteriosclerosis obliterans.

Welcome to my face, burger! (Peter Lawrence Kane)

If renewed hostility between certain factions in the United States and Russia feels like a Cold War redux with even more opaque Deep State alliances, just look at the situation in fast food right now. Gone are the days when we could simply bicker over Whoppers and Big Macs. In today’s multipolar franchise realpolitik, there’s an arms race brewing over which outlet can create the most outlandish cult sandwich. 

It’s hard to know when this really got started — although the McDonald’s Monopoly game was basically the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand — but the 2010 launch of KFC’s Double Down was kind of like Sputnik. Only instead of a dumb beeping probe, it was more like a rocket with a chimpanzee strapped to the nose cone and eating a 600-calorie bacon sandwich with fried chicken as the bun.

Fast-forward seven years, and every chain has the bomb. Taco Bell’s Naked Chalupa (R.I.P.) and KFC’s Chizza are gratification-delivery mechanisms capable of satiation on a previously unimaginable scale. And now Jack in the Box, via an email hacked earlier this month through “JackiLeaks,” has the Triple Bacon Buttery Jack sandwich. Move the Doomsday Clock another minute closer to midnight, because it’s time to go to DEFCON One.

Dispensing with lettuce or any type of nourishing-looking ingredient that most people would probably pick off anyway, the TBBJ contains beef, grilled onions, cheddar, hickory-smoked bacon, bacon butter, and a bacon mayo. I would strongly urge them to add even a sad pickle chip or two for acid, but it is definitely a serious payload. As with most burgers of this ilk, I always feel like it’s elaborate window-dressing to conceal the mediocrity of the meat, but after nibbling at it in such a way as to isolate the patty, I would say it’s superior to the dubiousness of Mickey D’s texture or some flamed-out B.K. cinders. I absolutely wish the cheese had melted a little more, although the inviting piece of bacon sticking out one end looked like the tongue of a not-so-bright pug. The bacon butter imparts a certain high-palate lusciousness that’s different from ordinary grease, and not for nothing, but the buns are some kind of brioche-slash-potato-roll hybrid — generously speaking. Squint the right way and you could almost see an egg wash.

At the Union Square-adjacent Jack in the Box, a medium combo with curly fries and a soda runs $11.07, including tax. So this is not the sandwich for value hounds. And at 900 calories and almost 1,400 milligrams of sodium, it’s not for the quinoa-smoothie set, either. But unlike six of the last eight burritos I’ve eaten, I didn’t return to my desk utterly destroyed. 

So there you have it: triple bacon, and an obvious opening for the competition to ratchet things up. Which chain will harness the power of the stars to construct a Dyson sphere capable of quadruple bacon?

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