As a kid, I used to joke, “I like French food. Especially Jacques In Ze Box.”
Trust me, it had the lunchroom in stitches.
But I may have been on to something if a recent taste test conducted at Jack In The Box’s Kearny Mesa headquarters is any indication.
The fast food giant paid locals, including me, between $25 and $35 to sample a potential new “European-style” chicken sandwich that is being considered for the menu.
The proposed sandwich had grilled chicken and pepperoni on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, mozzarella cheese. It was topped with a garlicky dressing that was described as “pesto,” but had hardly any of the green color associated with that condiment.
Testers ate the sandwiches at computer stations and typed their responses on keyboards that were covered in plastic like my Greek neighbor’s couch. Last thing you want is drippy, garlicky non-green pesto dressing ruining electronics that were state-of-the-art in 1996.
The sandwich — which I suggested they call the “Euro Jack” or, simply, “Le Jacques” — was spicier than the typical chicken sandwich, thanks to the pepperoni. The chicken was a single breast pounded down into an oval shape, instead of being shaped by mixing various chicken parts in a vat.
The brioche bun was soft yet firm enough to hold together despite the dressing, lettuce and tomato, and Swiss cheese.
My main suggestion: The chicken patty would be better if it were breaded, not grilled.
Testers got two versions of the same sandwich. I kept asking the woman in charge if she realized she was giving me the same sandwich.
“There are subtle differences,” she said.
Very subtle. Maybe the second sandwich had more garlic in the dressing.
One of the final questions asked how much I’d pay for either version of the sandwich were it for sale at Jack In The Box. I wrote, “Two bucks, because I don’t like to spend more than five there, and most of my money goes to two-for-99-cents tacos.”