The History of Jack in the Box

One of the biggest US burger chains

Jack In The Box is one of the largest and most of popular fast food chains in the US. It is unique when compared to other fast food restaurants because of its major improvements from a drive-thru concept and diverse (and freshly-made) menu choices aside from the usual burgers, fries and shakes.

Initial success and struggles

In San Diego, California, founder and owner Robert Oscar Peterson opened the first Jack In The Box restaurant in 1951, focusing initially on drive-through service. While this drive-through concept was not a novel thing at the time, the forward-thinking Peterson enhanced this system with a drive-thru window, an intercom service and a giant clown on top of the roof, greeting roadside motorists who were the restaurant’s base customers. This service proved to be much faster than the traditional drive-in window, and has been widely implemented since not only by Jack In The Box restaurants but by others chains as well.

Peterson’s company which operates Jack In The Box was once called San Diego Commissary Co., later to become Foodmaker Co. He sold his firm to Ralston Purina Company in 1968.

Under Ralston Purina’s control of Jack In The Box, the former began its franchising and expansion plans particularly in the eastern and Midwestern states. Through its marketing campaigns especially in its TV commercials, Jack In The Box experienced much success and was now in an intense competition with McDonald’s, the leading burger chain. By the latter part of the 1970s though, it began to struggle, with its existing outlets being put up for sale and their planned expansions discontinued altogether.

Success from change of menu

Foodmaker, Jack In The Box’s handler, began revamping the chain by altering its marketing strategies and improving its menu beyond just burgers and fries. Jack In The Box’s higher quality and “classy” menu was now targeted for the more affluent customers and young professionals (“yuppies”), therefore virtually forsaking its prior customer base of families with kids that McDonald’s had already been dominating for a long time. This proved to be a successful change.

In 1985, while Jack In The Box had done generally well for Purina, Purina decided to sell it to a body of investors, including members of Foodmakers’ management group. Two years later Foodmaker became a publicly traded company. This success of Foodmaker’s IPO allowed the company to open more Jack In The Box franchise outlets. By the late 1980s, more than 800 Jack In The Box restaurants were already in operation. Its successful marketing and advertising campaigns also consolidated Jack In Box’s strong hold in the US fast food industry.

Foodmaker eventually relinquished all of its other businesses and concentrated solely on Jack In The Box. It also changed the company name to Jack In The Box Inc. In 2004, the company also opened another line of restaurants called JBX Grill, whose menu is more upscale and of higher quality.

Menu items and meals (that can also be customized)

Presently, Jack In The Box offers a variety of food items including tacos, egg rolls, burritos, stuffed jalapenos, mozzarella cheese sticks, bacon cheddar potato wedges, cheesecakes, churros, breakfast items, sandwiches, salads and others aside from their burgers and fries offerings. Jack In The Box also serves food items that are in season (including the pumpkin pie shakes for Thanksgiving and Christmas, for instance), and introduces new items on monthly intervals.

It also allows clientele to customize their own meals. Jack In the Box’s now also boasts dine-in facilities aside from their famed drive-through services. With this option, customers are guaranteed of fast, flavorful and freshly-made meals that will surely satisfy their own appetite for something beyond the usual “fast food”. Today Jack In The Box today operates over 2,200 restaurants serving 21 states.

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