Reality Check

Reviews of fast food burgers and a look at how the real life version compares to the advertised beauty shot.

Reality Check: All American Cheeseburger from Jack in the Box

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

The latest burger from Jack in the Box is the All American Jack, which features two beef patties with three slices of cheese (two American, one "Swiss-style"), lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo-onion sauce, mustard and ketchup on a toasted sesame seed bun. The burger will set you back $3.69 or $4.99 with a drink and fries.

Even though I generally avoid fast food, I do have a soft-spot for Jack in the Box, particularly because of their shakes and desserts. After a so-so experience with the Jumbo Jack, I hoped the All American Jack would be worthy of its patriotic name.

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It was no big surprise that the actual burger didn't live up to the stunning press photo. From one angle, it looks like there's only one patty. From another, you really have to squint to see the cheese. That succulent, juicy tomato? It's invisible, until you peel back the bun to find one sad little slice, buried among a nest of shredded lettuce and blobs of mustard, ketchup, and onion-mayo sauce.

That being said, as fast food burgers go, this one was tasty—with some qualifiers. If I'd been excited about a full dressed burger, it would merely be average, since the produce was pretty lifeless, even by fast food standards. Similarly, if the main appeal was the beef, it wouldn't stand out from the crowd. For me, none of that mattered, because I was into this burger for one simple reason: the triple hit of melted cheese.

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On that front, it delivered. The gooey, creamy cheese was the dominant flavor, with the mix of mustard, ketchup, and onion-mayo sauce adding a subtle tang. The beef patties were mostly there for texture, and didn't taste much different than any other fast food burger beef.

Given the choice between the All American Jack and any burger from a legitimate restaurant, I'd choose option B every time, but next to a more comparable option, say a double cheeseburger from McDonald's, it definitely has the edge. Knowing that the lettuce, tomato and pickle do little to improve the burger, you're probably best sticking with Jack's Ultimate Cheeseburger, which is essentially a stripped-down version.

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