The Ugly Truth About the Burger King Taco Is That It Is the Jack In The Box Taco
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A Burger King taco commercial.
THERE’S A NEW fast-food taco on TV, it's the Burger King taco, and it costs one dollar. Which fast-foodery is BK trying to zero-sum-game out of their market share of discretionary taco dollars, Taco Bell? No, my field investigation has determined that the Burger King taco is a reverse-engineered Jack In The Box taco.
My taco world was warped at an early age in Schenectady, New York, where there were no tacos, but there was a Jack In The Box. There was a drive-thru and it had a plastic clown with a speaker inside and you would tell Jack what you wanted. Jack In The Box featured the Jumbo Jack, which compared to a Whopper or a Big Mac, and they had an odd, gigantic, rectangular burger sandwich called the Jack Steak, which was pricey. They also had these curious things called tacos, which were more affordable. Jack In The Box only lasted a few years at its location on Erie Blvd, coincidentally replaced by a Burger King. Corporate retrenchment (they were owned at one point by Ralston Purina, bow-wow!) caused a shuttering of East Coast locations, but by then, for me, it was too late, my definition of a taco had been formed: A lump of mildly spiced meat-paste and some bland cheese inside a tough corn tortilla shell, deep fried from frozen until they opened up like greasy-translucent cornmeal Venus Flytraps, sprinkled with a few shreds of Easter-hay-looking lettuce. Cheap, satisfying, and permanently etched into my junk-food pleasure receptors. Sure, I've had real tacos at real places, the same way I've had real hamburgers at real places, and real pizza at real places. There's a slot in many of our personal gustatory spectrums for greasy caricatures of real food.
If I want a Jack In The Box-o, it's a seven-hour drive to 1776 Catawba Valley Blvd SE Hickory, North Carolina.
I'm still on the East Coast, so I don't have regular access to the taco of my youth, but whenever I'm traveling near a Jack In The Box, I am compelled to seek out a taco. OK, three tacos. It doesn't help that I'm typically traveling for pleasure, which means I'm more than likely, at a certain time of the day, in my cups and ready to talk to the Clown for a drunk munch. Maybe four tacos.
Visually, in their TV spot, Burger King is pretending to offer hearty, substantial tacos:
Burger King wants you to think this is what their tacos look like, but of course it's no shock to experienced fast-food ingesters that they look like this:
Kinda flat! They are almost not even three-dimensional! Meanwhile, from West Coast Hmm Weekly contributor David O. Barranco, here's what Jack In The Box tacos (two for a dollar) look like in their Natural Environment:
Look at the grease, ohh. I mean that in a good way.
Here's the inside of a Burger King taco followed by a Jack In The Box joint:
Har! I know, how can anybody eat this shit? For what it's worth, our West Coast contributor has some self-respect, so they did not eat the tacos photographed at Jackbox, but I totally ate all three of my BK tacos, urp!
Burger King has figured out the tortilla and approximate flavor of the meat-goop that goes inside, however, based on this sample from my nearby Baltimore, Maryland location, their presentation is much shabbier than Jack In The Box standards in terms of amount of lettuce. Also however, I don't care, it is an acceptable simulacrum of a Jacko-taco, and every once in awhile I will eat one. Three. Five.
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