Friday, April 2, 2010

TBG Eats: The (Test-Marketed) Breakfast Pita from Jack in the Box

Current Weight: 166.8 lbs.

Y'know, for a guy who claims he's
no longer a big breakfast guy, I sure eat a lot of big breakfasts.

But, there are a couple of attractive variables in play with Jack in the Box's new Breakfast Pita that make it hard to resist its high-sodium siren song.

Y'see, me and JitB have some pita history together. 25 years ago, America was immersed in dozens of newfangled food n' drink fads. The mid-1980s were an all-out gastronomical marketing assault on the senses. Most folks remember the high-profile failures (
New Coke, McDLT). Others don't remember the brief, inexplicable pop culture impact of items from the era that are still hanging around today (rice cakes, Jolt Cola, frozen yogurt).

Here in 2010, fajitas are one of the most ubiquitous casual dining menu options out there. A generation ago, the concept of being served a still-sizzling skillet of meat was mind-blowing. Customers weren't privy to the preparation process at establishments like Bob's Big Boy, Sizzler or Friendly's. For all we knew, their meals might've been pre-prepared and then warmed under heat lamps. They might've been someone else's erroneous order turned around and sent to your table.

But, fajitas were proof that your meal was freshly-prepared and piping hot! And, if you ordered fajitas, every head in the restaurant would turn towards your table when they arrived – skirt steak was practically a status symbol. I am not making this up.

The fast food industry was falling over themselves in attempts to profit from fajitas. Tex-Mex-ploitation, if you will. The Naugles/Del Taco chain actually beat Taco Bell to the punch with their introduction of fajita burritos and salads. Meanwhile, Jack in the Box rolled out the Chicken Fajita Pita. It was just chicken strips topped with Americanized taco condiments (lettuce, tomatoes, cheese) and crammed into a pita pocket, but JitB struck gold with the corny/catchy name and low calorie content.

In junior high and high school, I lived less than a block away from a Jack in the Box and put away more Chicken Fajita Pitas than I care to remember. So, of course, I'm on board for the breakfast version. And, then I find out that San Diego is part of a
limited test market for the new Breakfast Pita…? I live in San Diego! I majored in marketing at San Diego State University! I must eat this pita!

The Breakfast Pita is the definition of "no-frills food" – scrambled eggs, ham, bacon and cheese stuffed in a pita. It didn't look "unappetizing" as much as it looked "uninteresting". All the ingredients just…sitting there.

Picking up the irksome tradition of most fast food breakfast burritos, the eggs were 85-90% of the pita population. If these were Mrs. Bootleg's cheesy, buttery, Tabasco-y scrambled eggs, I wouldn't be complaining, but I doubt there were three cracked eggs, a fork and a bowl back behind the Jack in the Box counter.

There's simply not enough breakfast meat in the Breakfast Pita to make it any more substantial than a snack. The pita pocket, however, wipes out any positive points I might've issued for JitB pita nostalgia alone. I know that "cardboard" is one of the most overused food critiques, but it'll never be more appropriate than now. The taste, the texture, the Simpsons

"Hey, that's my lucky red hat sitting on top of a double-corrugated, eight-fold, fourteen-gauge box!"

Namesake breakfast items are a bad idea, Jack in the Box.

Grade: 1 (out of 5)


nicka said...

next up BK's Bacon Cheddar XT Steakhouse burger?

That Bootleg Guy said...

I keep passing that up for some reason. I'll hit it up.

Next up: Wendy's bacon n' blue cheese burger (which I ate almost a month ago and might already be off the menu).