- Jack in the Box’s new Smashed Jack burger was an instant hit, selling out within two weeks.
- Smashed Jack, the chain’s first new burger in eight years, took two years to develop.
- We loved the big and juicy patty and thought it was better than McDonald’s and Burger King.
Smashed Jack, the first new burger Jack in the box in eight years, it is already breaking expectations.
The chain sold 70,000 Smashed Jacks in just one day, and within two weeks, the burger was sold out everywhere.
It’s almost impossible to find right now, but Business Insider’s food reporters Anneta Konstantinides and Nancy Luna were able to taste Smashed Jack before it officially rolled out to 2,200 restaurants in February.
What’s so special about Smashed Jack and is it worth all the hype? We had to learn.
We were greeted in the lobby with an original Jack in the Box two-way speaker from 1951, when the chain first launched in San Diego. It featured three burger options with tacos – these Jack in the box remains popular – and some very enviable prices.
Today, the Box’s menu includes 80 items on constant rotation at Jack’s, including 12 different burger options. Smashed Jack is Jack in the Box’s first new burger since Buttery Jack debuted in 2015, Ryan Ostrom, the chain’s chief marketing officer, told us.
“The Buttery Jack was the first of its kind in fast food. It was the best performing burger we ever made,” Ostrom said. “The Smashed Jack beats it. He’s already outclassed.”
Jack in Box first introduced Smashed Jack in early January, and the chain expected the soft launch to last six weeks as it prepared for a full launch in February. Ostrom said there’s no marketing or advertising, just putting Smashed Jack on the menu.
It sold out everywhere within two weeks.
“We couldn’t keep it in the warehouse, we couldn’t keep it on the shelves,” Ostrom said. “We’re very fortunate to have a big hit on our hands.”
Ostrom said Jack in the Box had to hire more people and ramp up production of the crushed-style patties as the chain prepared for its official launch.
“We’re just making sure we have enough stores. Will we? We don’t know yet,” he said. “It depends on the passion for that burger.”
Jack in the Box kitchen has gone through 60 different versions It took two years to develop the final Smashed Jack, before landing.
“I don’t know how many of these I’ve tried,” Ostrom said. “I think every three weeks, there was a year of trying different meatballs, different meat mixes, different kinds of cooking methods.”
Smashed Jack features a loose-ground, ¼-pound, crushed-style beef patty, which Ostrom says is made off-site using “first-of-its-kind equipment.”
While fast-food giants like McDonald’s live “shrinkage”, Ostrom said the Smashed Jack is the largest and juiciest patty on the chain’s menu.
Unlike other Jack in the Box burgers, which are seasoned on the grill at the restaurant, Ostrom said, the Smashed Jack patty is seasoned at the factory to ensure consistent flavor.
“By doing that, it allows it to be more consistent, more flavorful, every burger you get will have that amazing flavor, taste and juiciness,” he said. “And that’s what we really wanted to do, we wanted to make the best burger.”
The new Boss sauce — inspired by Thousand Island dressing — was created by trained chefs in the chain’s test kitchen and developed specifically for Smashed Jack, Libby Rourke, senior product developer, told us. Mayonnaise is based and also gives flavor.
Rourke noted that everything about the burger is carefully considered, even the number of pickles. There was much discussion in the test kitchen before we decided on four options for the burger. The Smashed Jack is also the first burger on the Box’s menu at Jack’s to use a brioche bun.
The Bacon Double Smashed Jack will have an extra patty, as well as bacon.
Ostrom told us that Jack in the Box hopes to continue to feature the Crushed Jack patty in new menu items.
“This is the highest candy we’ve made in years, and we’re excited about it,” he said. “We think it has the legs to move on to other things.”
Insert: Smashed Jack meatballs have fantastic flavor and texture. It is thick and juicy as promised and I loved the crispy edges. It reminded me of Heavy Handed in Los Angeles, known for their delicious smash burgers. The soft and moist brioche bun pairs deliciously with the large dumpling and helps soak up its juices. That’s a really substantial feel for a fast-food burger—it’s miles ahead of the cheeseburger you’d get at McDonald’s.
Nancy: This is a great burger. It was delicious, satisfying, and delicious—perhaps too delicious. I was surprised that a frozen beef patty could taste so good. It was much better than oily the updated Big Mac patty. I loved the fried onions that came on top of the Smashed Jack, it added a lot of flavor to the burger. I also love that Jack in the Box acknowledges that pickles are a key ingredient in a hamburger. Pickles are an afterthought on most burgers, often piled together or sliced into a bun. But Crushed Jack features four pickles evenly spaced across the bun, so every bite has a sharp, crunchy bite.
We both thought that Jack in the Box’s new Boss sauce was reminiscent of In-N-Out’s famous “animal style” spread – without the big flavor. And we loved it. The sauce gave the burger even more flavor and added some contrasting brightness to the heavy flavor of the patty.
Our burgers had plenty of sauce, but according to Nancy, the sauce detracted from the meaty flavor of the patty.
Nancy and Annette agreed that the burger had too much cheese. Since it’s a slice that hugs every side of the patty, its flavor doesn’t shine through as much as it could.
Ostrom said Smashed Jack beat burgers from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King in the chain’s recent blind taste test, and we’re not surprised. The Smashed Jack patty feels premium compared to what you’ll find at other big chains — and with an $8 price point, it’s still more affordable than a fancy burger joint.
Plus, opting for a squishy-style patty is a smart way to make a splash in the highly competitive fast-food market, and it definitely fits with Jack in the Box’s mission to stay culturally relevant.
“We’re all going to your belly,” Ostrom said. “We’re the underdogs. We’re the annoying little brother no one wants to talk about.”
Looks like Smashed Jack is already changing that.