Jack in the Box will start offering late-night meals. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
Late night snacking is about to get ugly.
Nutritionally speaking, that is. A gut-stuffing line-up of four late-night meals -- including one that actually stacks a grilled cheese sandwich atop an already gloppy cheeseburger -- is rolling out at Jack in the Box restaurants nationwide.
The nighttime meal offerings - which also come packed with two tacos, a mixed order of French fries and seasoned curly fries and a 20 oz. beverage - almost make Hardee's once-heckled Monster Burger look, well, tame. They're called Jack's Munchie Meals - only sold between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Price-tag: $6.
"They are a disaster," says registered dietitian Robyn Flipse. "They must have hired some very stoned Millennials to dream this stuff up."
Not at all, says Keith Guilbault, vice president of menu innovation at Jack in the Box, which has 2,250 locations in 21 states. "This is targeted at folks looking for indulgent treats," he says. Among them: late-night shift workers and Millennials who get the munchies at odd hours.
Even then, most of the meals are crammed with roughly the total number of calories many folks should consume in an entire day, notes Beth Vallen, a marketing professor at Fordham University who specializes in food issues. Forget the growing national movement towards better-for-you eating. This, she says, is a very clear case of "negative nutritents" increasingly being marketed as acceptable late night eats.
The Jack's Munchie Meal offerings:
Stacked Grilled Cheeseburger. A sour dough grilled-cheese sandwich placed on top of a cheeseburger. Total Meal: 1,679 calories and 3,538 milligrams of sodium.
Exploding Cheesy Chicken Sandwich. A chicken sandwich with mozzarella cheese sticks and gooey, white sauce. Total Meal: 1594 calories and 3,139 milligrams of sodium.
Loaded Nuggets. Nuggets drowning in two kinds of cheese and ranch dressing and bacon. Total meal: 1,592 calories and 3,593 milligrams of sodium.
Brunch Burger. A cheeseburger with a fried egg and hashed-browns patty on top. Total meal: 1,708 calories and 2,993 milligrams of sodium.
This is Jack in the Box's bid to ramp-up late-night business, one of the few growth categories in fast-food. Witness Taco Bell's Fourth Meal and later hours at McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's. Jack-in-the-Box will promote the new offerings with "a twisted version" of its spokescharacter, Jack, dubbed Late Night Jack -- who'll be seen playing video games, says Guilbault.
But Flipse, the nutritionist, is unimpressed. "The only reason I can see for this line is that they are only available after 9:00 p.m.," she says. "That's when, as they say, you don't know if you're eating supper or breakfast because you are in an altered state of mind."