In middle school my name was drawn from among every student. The prize, a choice between a free ticket to an upcoming dance or a meal voucher from Jack in the Box. Though not much of a dancer I chose the ticket in an effort to get out more. Unfortunately I was struck with a terrible flu the night of the dance that left me delirious at home and unable to attend. A little relived, though upset that my winning amounted to nothing I asked the principle if she would allow me to exchange my prize for the second option and she agreed. The coupon was for a free Ultimate Cheeseburger meal.
Before this time the only sandwich I would eat at Jack in the Box was a Chicken Sandwich without mayonnaise. I loved that sandwich. The always hot and crispy chicken patty topped with a single crunchy lettuce leaf accompanied by fresh fries and a cold Dr. Pepper that would fizzle in my throat with each sip. Absolutely delicious! Once I find my liking at a restaurant I am hesitant to try something else. But the coupon provided an excellent opportunity for diversity. When I took my first bite of that sandwich I was astounded. The mixture of three different sauces enhanced by the juices from the two beef patties held together by four slices of cheese was unlike anything I had tasted before. After that bite I knew I had found my new usual at Jack in the Box and my favorite cheeseburger that I had tasted up to that point in my young life.
I continued to order the Ultimate Cheeseburger for years and enjoyed it every time! Yet within the last few years something had changed. On a normal trip to Jack in the Box, on an ordinary day I took a bite of my order and realized that it did not taste as it did in my younger years. It had to be a fluke. You get a bad burger once in a while, fine, no problem. Each time after that, however, was the same experience. What was once a juicy, succulent, sensation of sauces was now a coating of mush on two lopsided dried patties plastered together with unmelted cheese. The burger was now intolerable and inedible. The sudden change of taste was not limited to my local Jack in the box but to multiple locations around my area. I have experienced a change in taste between multiple locations of the same restaurant before and even between countries, but never the same exact problem with the same exact burger. What happened? Maybe my tastes changed. Maybe they did. But I can no longer stomach my past favorite burger and have given up on the meat products at Jack in the box entirely.
I have returned to the Chicken Sandwich (now with a side of five mini churros!) and will stick with that until that too changes. Maybe in a few years I’ll try the Ultimate Cheeseburger again. Maybe in a few years Jack in the Box will reevaluate their menu and return to their once fresh ways.
Tex is a DJ with KSSU Sacramento States only student run radio station.