8 Jack In The Box Menu Items From The 1980s You Probably Forgot About

Jack In The Box food packaging
Jack In The Box food packaging - Summer_Wind/Shutterstock

During the 1980s, Jack In The Box underwent a staggering transformation. The chain, which had previously focused on classic fast food meals such as hamburgers, shakes, and fries, started trialing a huge range of new menu items. It did this in order to attract a different type of customer: young professionals with money to spend. Some of these new dishes, including the Jumbo Jack, are still served by Jack In The Box today. Many more are not. In this article, we focus on the latter group, highlighting eight Jack In The Box menu items from the 1980s which you've probably forgotten about.

Just because these menu items are not currently sold does not mean they were failures. Jack In The Box introduced 20 menu items between 1982 and 1987 alone. Hundreds of others were researched and tested during the decade. Such an influx of new menu items necessitated churn, causing some other menu items to disappear. There's no shame in that. What's more, many of the menu items mentioned in this article have been used as the inspiration behind some of Jack In The Box's current foods, proving that old adage: There is no such thing as a wasted effort.

Read more: The Ultimate Ranking Of American Fast Food Restaurants

Beef Fajita Pita

The Fajita Pita advertisement
The Fajita Pita advertisement - Meijera2021/YouTube

The Fajita Pita was introduced by Jack In The Box in February 1987. The product was initially available with spiced beef as the filling, alongside cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. As you might expect, all these ingredients were stuffed inside a pita. The following year, a chicken option was added. Both of these choices gave diners of the time what they were looking for -- namely, a menu item that presented spicy flavors and a nutritional profile that was superior to many other fast foods. In fact, the Chicken Fajita Pita contained less than 350 calories when it was first introduced to the menu.

The original Fajita Pita proved very successful, accounting for 11% of all Jack In The Box sales when it was first live. The item, however, was superseded by the Chicken Fajita Pita. After poor initial testing, this pita was stuffed with only white meat, and thereafter performed extremely well. In an interview with San Diego Reader, Paul Haack, who was product development vice president at Jack In The Box, explained the effect focusing on white meat had, saying, "We put that in at the market test, and lo and behold, thank God, the product did very well. The meat went from being the weak point to being the strong point of the product."

As a result of the Chicken Fajita Pita's success, the original Fajita Pita was discontinued at some point during the early 1990s. The Chicken Fajita Pita remains on Jack In The Box's menu today.

Shrimp Salad

Jack in the Box Shrimp Salad commercial
Jack in the Box Shrimp Salad commercial - mrgiosb123/YouTube

With the American population becoming increasingly health-conscious during the 1980s, Jack In The Box decided to introduce a collection of packaged salads to its restaurants. Launched during the early 1980s, these were known as Supreme Salads, and came in four different flavors: Chef's Salad, Shrimp Salad, Chicken Salad, and Taco Salad. All these salads were marketed as "meal-size" and were packaged to go, something that other competitors had yet to offer. This was highlighted to the San Diego Reader by public relations manager Durwin Long, who said, "That was [introduced] back in 1982. People think McDonald's was the first one to do that. But they just introduced theirs last year. We were five years ahead of them."

Jack In The Box's Shrimp Salad is a particularly nostalgic menu item. It contained shrimp, greens, sliced hard-boiled egg, and tomatoes; an eclectic mix of ingredients that it's hard to imagine Jack In The Box -- or any other fast food restaurant -- offering today. Later on in the decade, Jack In The Box riffed on this menu item, creating a seafood and pasta salad that further pushed the boundaries of what fast food restaurants could offer. Today, however, Jack In The Box only offers a limited range of salads, the vast majority of which spotlight chicken. Shrimp is nowhere to be found on the chain's current menu.

Chicken Supreme

A chicken supreme sandwich
A chicken supreme sandwich - howtocooke/YouTube

Jack In the Box's Chicken Supreme was a sandwich launched by the company in 1980. This launch introduced Jack In The Box's updated approach to fast food dining and heralded a new era for the company, as exemplified by the ceremonial destruction of the old Jack In The Box mascot in commercials that advertised the Chicken Supreme.

The sandwich featured a white meat patty, two types of cheese, and a toasted whole wheat bun. Again, Jack In The Box proved it was an innovator with the launch of the Chicken Supreme coming many years before similar products were sold by the likes of McDonalds. In an interview with San Diego Reader, Mo Iqbal, an overall product development manager at the time of the product's launch, said, "In my opinion, after nine years of work, [McDonald's] product still does not even come close to our Chicken Supreme. We were the first one to offer a whole-wheat bun in fast food. We were the first one to offer more than American cheese."

Despite being a classic, Jack In The Box discontinued the Chicken Supreme. Today, Jack In The Box serves alternative chicken sandwiches, including the Cluck Sandwich and Jack's Spicy Chicken. Jack In The Box also continues to serve a grilled chicken sandwich, a product that was released only a short time after the Chicken Supreme.

Dinner In The Box

Jack In The Box takeout dinners
Jack In The Box takeout dinners - Crommy5/YouTube

In what was perhaps the company's boldest attempt to attract young professionals during the 1980s, Jack In The Box launched Dinner In The Box, a whole meal served inside a cardboard box. Diners had the option of chicken, shrimp, and, incredibly, sirloin steak, served as a sandwich. All Dinner In The Box options came with a side salad, garlic bread, and wedge fries.

Dinner In The Box was only served by Jack In the Box between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Despite steak being an option, the meal was actually pretty affordable. All Dinner In The Box options cost diners $2.99 in 1985, which is roughly equivalent to less than $9 in 2024.Sadly, Jack In The Box discontinued Dinner In The Box some time ago. In fact, the company no longer sells shrimp or sirloin steaks at all, something many customers will be disappointed by.


Commercial for Frings
Commercial for Frings - robatsea2009/YouTube

Many of the menu items included in this article were incredibly inventive for fast food restaurants in the 1980s. This era was dominated by establishments that focused on the classic combination of burgers and shakes. However, Jack In The Box was not above adding simple, classic items to its menu, as the brand's Frings exemplify.

Frings were simply a mixture of Jack In The Box's onion rings and French fries, served in the same bag. This product was released in 1979 and was available throughout the early 1980s. However, Frings did not prove overly popular and were soon discontinued. This has not stopped many other fast food franchises from combining fries and onion rings, including Burger King. Jack In The Box does not list Frings on its current menu, but it does continue to sell French fries and onion rings separately, meaning it's easy to recreate Frings every time you order.

Hot Ham And Cheese Supreme

Hot Ham and Cheese Supreme ad
Hot Ham and Cheese Supreme ad - mrgiosb123/YouTube

Jack In The Box's Hot Ham and Cheese Supreme was another menu item launched as part of the company's rebrand in 1980. Advertisements for the sandwich even included the chain's mascot exploding. The sandwich itself was a simple affair, made with ham, melted cheese, and a toasted poppy seed roll. It also included a mayo-based sauce that carried the sharp flavors of horseradish, onion, and mustard. Despite its simplicity, the hot sandwich was a big hit and is still fondly remembered by many people who ordered it in the past.

Jack In The Box does not currently offer the Hot Ham and Cheese Supreme, or any other deli-style sandwich, on its menu. The closest thing that is currently served by the company is the Sourdough Grilled Cheese, although, in reality, this sandwich bears little resemblance to Jack In The Box's Hot Ham and Cheese Supreme. As a result, those with a longing for the sandwich have been forced to recreate it at home with varying levels of success.

Crescent Breakfast

Crescent Breakfast croissant sandwich ad
Crescent Breakfast croissant sandwich ad - xennial80sxberner/YouTube

During the 1980s, Jack In The Box got into breakfast in a big way. In an attempt to lure customers to the restaurant during the morning, Jack In The Box introduced new and exciting menu items which added some much needed variety to fast food breakfast offerings. The brand's Crescent Breakfast option was one such menu item. Made with cheese and egg inside a croissant, customers had a choice of three meaty fillings: bacon, ham, or sausage.

Although no longer served by Jack In The Box, the Crescent Breakfast marked the beginning of the chain's long love affair with croissants. It subsequently released a number of deli croissants, and continues to serve a variety of breakfast croissants today. These include items that are very similar to the Crescent Breakfast, such as the Sausage Croissant, which includes sausage, egg, and cheese, as well as more indulgent offerings like the Meat Lovers Croissant, a breakfast croissant stuffed with ham, bacon, sausage, cheese, and egg. What's more, Jack In The Box now serves breakfast all day, meaning these croissants can be enjoyed by customers whenever they desire.


Jack In The Box taquitos ad
Jack In The Box taquitos ad - wiifermadness/YouTube

In 1987, Jack In The Box introduced Finger Foods, a collection of three different small foods that could be bought in batches of five or seven per order. Initially, the available options included Egg Rolls, Chicken Strips, and Golden Shrimp. One year later, Jack In The Box introduced a fourth option: Taquitos.

Jack In The Box's Taquitos were comprised of shredded beef encased in rolled-up corn tortillas. Diners had the option of having their Taquitos served alongside guacamole or salsa. Although a unique option at the time, Taquitos did not catch on and were soon discontinued. Jack In The Box was not done with them, however: It reintroduced the menu item in 2002. Once again, though, they failed to sell and were summarily discontinued.

Today, two of the original Finger Foods remain on the menu: Egg Rolls and Chicken Strips. Neither Golden Shrimp nor Taquitos are available and we don't expect them to be reintroduced anytime soon. The closest thing sold by the brand is its Classic Tiny Tacos, a box of bite-sized tacos that are served with avocado lime sauce.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.