a hot dog made of fish, drenched in a tartar sauce that smelled like milk and urine. I ate a burger topped with a cheesesteak sandwich. I even wrote something about the McRib that got my name in the Wall Street Journal.
But the truth is that none of the promotions I have tried are quite as bizarre as a regular menu item Jack in the Box carries: their tacos. Usually sold at a very low price - at the moment they are two for 99 cents - Jack has served their tacos for more than 50 years. According to their website, they sell more than 400 million tacos per year.
The tacos are difficult to describe: the shells are always crispy and greasy and the insides are a paste. I mean, there is definitely lettuce, but there is also an indeterminate puree of what, to me, have always been unrecognizable flavors. There is cheese but I do not taste it.
It has long been rumored that these tacos are vegetarian, that the insides are soy meat. And, while there is "textured vegetable protein" (containing soy flour and caramel color) and "defatted soy grits," the main ingredient is beef.
(I once went out with a girl who was a vegetarian. It may not surprise you to learn that it did not last long. She insisted that Jack's tacos were vegetarian. I assured her they were not. She said she had been eating them for years and there was no way they contained meat. So we inquired at Jack in the Box one day. I was correct and her reaction to learning that she had been eating cow parts for years was perhaps my singular happy memory from that relationship.)
Only here's the thing: they definitely taste like soy meat. I have had soy tacos many times in my life and they taste exactly like this. It's not so much a bad thing, just a... weird thing. The ads for the tacos show a tortilla filled to them brim with beef; every single JitB taco I've ever had looks like the one above: very little protein, spread in a thin layer against one wall of the shell.
It had been years since I'd eaten one, but the other day I saw the 2-for-99-cents sign and decided to try them. Even covered in oil, the taco was room temperature. And bland. I had to squirt in a packet of Jack's taco sauce - which is actually quite tasty - to get some flavor.
I ate one of the tacos, put the other in the fridge and forgot about it. I ended up throwing it out. I don't see any situation in which I will ever again order one of these. They are so strange that I am sure some people completely love them. But they're not for me.