Last week Jack in the Box rolled out the Bacon Shake, a cultural identifier masquerading as a 773-calorie beverage. It’s part of Jack’s Marry Bacon marketing campaign, which includes a $4.99 BLT cheeseburger combo, a tuxedo T-shirt you can order (it’s got a bacon bowtie), and recent updates to Jack’s rather lackluster bacon Tumblr.
As far as the shake goes, “bacon” ought to be set off with quotation marks, since it contains no pork, only “bacon-flavored syrup,” which is technically bacon-less. A Jack in the Box spokeswoman calls the shake a “limited edition” product. Restaurants everywhere but Indianapolis—where, inexplicably, the Bacon Shake is as scarce as union rights—received a limited amount of bacon syrup, and zero signage. Jack expects the Bacon Shake to go viral via interoffice IMs alone.
At the Jack in the Box near CHOW.com’s offices, the counter guy gave me a sly half-smile when I asked for one. But what was shoved across the counter at me was beige and unexpectedly bland-looking, topped with a slumped swirl of whipped cream that a maraschino cherry had bled into like lipstick on a pillowcase. I’m a sucker for sugar, but even I found the Bacon Shake synapse-jackingly sweet, and the bacon flavor? Nothing more than artificial-tasting maple, like doughnut glaze, with a wisp of smoky flavor.
I’d expected the Bacon Shake to thrill and horrify, if only for the way it pushed the bacon meme. I ended up disappointed: The Bacon Shake is a fraud. Why didn’t I order a Jumbaco instead?
Photo by Roxanne Webber