When Jack in the Box re-introduced their "Munchie Meals"—multi-item combos aimed at late-night diners—I knew it would only be a matter of time before I'd be making a trip to try all of them. Luckily, my last vestiges of shame were wiped out during the Jumbaco Incident of 2012, so ordering a combined total of 6,573 calories at 9:30 p.m. didn't feel nearly as crazy as it should have.
Each of the four options (including a Brunch Burger, Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger, Exploding Cheesy Chicken, and Loaded Chicken Nuggets) comes with an order of "halfsies" (half curly fries, half regular), two hard-shell tacos, and a drink for $6.
Munchie Meals are only available between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., and while no one at JITB has officially admitted they're aiming the meals at a specific segment of the population, saying only that the meals are "targeted at folks looking for indulgent treats," it's pretty obvious who the target market is. Fittingly, when we lowered the window to place our most ridiculous of orders, the drive-thru lane reeked of weed.
Ten minutes later, I was home, eagerly opening the boxes to get to the curly fries. They, along with the standard spuds, were cold and stale. Carbon-dating would probably be the best way to determine when they had initially been fried (from frozen) but I'm guessing it was a week before they were served to me. I ate one, and only one, of each.
Unsurprisingly, the tacos were terrible. With their mushy, meat filling of indeterminable animal origin, and their shells that are simultaneously limp and stale, they hit the bin in record time, leaving the only hope of the meals' salvation up to the sandwiches (and nuggets), themselves.
In one case, it worked. The Brunch Burger was actually good. Really good. Sure, the croissant was more greasy than flaky, and the hash brown fell apart halfway through eating, but I didn't want to stop at one bite, or even three. The weird thing about this burger was how, by being placed among ingredients typically associated with a breakfast sandwich, the beef ended up tasting like a sausage patty. I just couldn't shake the connection. With all of the salt and grease, this sandwich would be a great hangover cure/avoidance method. Here's hoping Jack adds this to the regular menu, and soon.
The bread-to-meat ratio was way off with the Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger. I'm not sure if the grilled cheese sandwich serving as the top bun was made only with American cheese, or if there was some type of cheese spread in there as well, but the cheese was so fully melted, it was molten, like a grilled cheese sandwich made with Velveeta. Seeing as I could barely taste the beef, I lost interest in everything below the sandwich and focused my attention solely on it instead. While it was a bit one-note, I'd still choose it over a standard burger.
"Ugh!" was my immediate response to the Exploding Cheesy Chicken, a fried chicken sandwich with mozzarella cheese sticks and "gooey white cheese sauce." Between the dry-as-a-bone chicken filet, the rubbery mozzarella sticks, and the straight-up foul sauce, there was nowhere for this sandwich to go but directly down the garbage chute.
I thought things couldn't get any worse than the chicken sandwich until I bit into one of the Loaded Chicken Nuggets, which are topped with bacon, ranch dressing, and two different cheese sauces. Wrong! These crisp little coin-shaped nuggets were so salty, I couldn't get past one bite. My husband suffered the same fate. Good thing we had four large iced teas at our disposal. I'm not a nutrition expert, but considering the meal has 3,593 milligrams of sodium (over 1,200 more milligrams than the daily recommended amount according to The Mayo Clinic), I think it's safe to say you probably shouldn't eat this. Ever.
The late-night run meant the only room with enough light to take photos was the bathroom. Normally curious about anything I put within sniffing range, Pixel remained outside the door, wary, but completely disinterested in all four Munchie Meals. Smart cat.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax