[Photographs: Above, Jack in the Box; others, Erin Jackson]

Jack in the Box is the latest fast food chain to resurrect a retro menu item: the Bonus Jack. The burger was originally added to the menu in the 1970s to compete with the Big Mac and (aside from a brief period in 2009) hasn't been a regular feature on the menu in decades. The Bonus Jack features two regular beef patties, lettuce, American cheese, a pickle, and Jack's Famous Secret sauce on a triple-decker bun. It is available for a limited time at select locations in a combo meal for $3.99 (which includes small fries and a small drink).


At first glance, the burger looks surprisingly appealing. Even though it looks a lot different than the advertised photo (no big shock), it stands up fairly tall and has an attractively domed top bun. The center layer of bread looks thick in the straight-on shot (a potential detriment to the burger that could throw off the bread-to-meat ratio), but when cut in half, it's clear that even a small patty and a few pieces of lettuce is enough to squish it almost flat.


The construction of the Bonus Jack makes comparisons to the Big Mac inevitable. The main difference between the two is the Bonus Jack has a plain bun, two slices of cheese, and a unique "secret sauce". According to the company's website, the sauce has 19 ingredients, including A1 steak sauce, mustard, ´╗┐Worcestershire sauce, and what I'm guessing is a lot of high fructose corn syrup (the fourth ingredient after water, soybean oil, and tomato paste). The bright orange sauce was sweet and tangy, and tasted a little bit like French salad dressing.

The additional bread hardly registered. The bun was so light and airy that the extra disc in the middle had no impact on the taste or texture, which was defined almost completely by the sauce. The sauce was so generously portioned that it completely saturated and overwhelmed all of the other ingredients, turning a triple-decker double cheeseburger into an ooey, gooey secret sauce bomb.

Whether or not you'll like the Bonus Jack rests on how much sauce you like on your burger, and how much you like Jack in the Box's secret sauce in particular. Because the sauce is so plentiful, it's the predominant feature of the burger—not just a condiment. Personally, I found it a touch too sweet and too heavily applied. However, if you like Big Macs and your favorite thing about them is the sauce, you may want to give this burger a shot.


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