When you’re sitting on the couch in your sweats debating whether or not you want a fast food burger from Carl’s Jr. or Jack in the Box, you probably aren’t thinking about the blood, sweat, and tears that went into building the franchises from the ground up (unless you are then, come work for us). However, to truly determine the winner of this debate, Carl’s Jr. vs Jack in the Box, it’s important to consider all the factors equally – what’s behind that smiling golden star and clown and in between the buns.
Where Did It All Begin?
Carl’s Jr. started up in 1941, but it wasn’t the same burger chain you’re used to today. It was originally a hot dog cart, followed by a barbecue joint before it ever became famous for its burgers and fries. Now, there are nearly 4,000 Carl’s Jr. locations, and it was named #15 on Entrepreneur’s Top Franchise 500 list, which is quite the accomplishment in the industry. Some of their best-selling menu items are the Big Hamburger, the hand-breaded chicken tenders, and the bacon-egg burrito (but more on their food later).
Just 10 years after Carl’s Jr. was started, Jack in the Box launched its first restaurant. Opening to serve passers-by in the San Diego area, Jack in the Box had no trouble expanding in its early years. In fact, the franchise even spearheaded the initiative for the two-way intercom that is used in drive-throughs. And while most people think of Jack in the Box as a burger joint, its best seller is actually its taco. Now, with nearly 2,200 locations, many of which are in the western United States, the franchise is still steadily growing in popularity.
So, What’s Good At Carl’s Jr. vs Jack in the Box?
Everything’s greasy, obviously. So, if you’re looking for a traditional, melt-in-your-mouth burger and fries, you’ve come to the right place (whichever place you choose, of course). As with any fast food joint, there are the fan favorites at each, but your taste in greasy goodness is at your discretion. According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s not the burger and fries that win over loyal customers at Jack in the Box – it’s the taco. If you go on any social platform, you’ll read polarizing reviews of this menu item, with some calling it “a wet envelope of cat food” (ouch), while others rave about it, saying it’s “the most underrated taco of all time.”
Frankly, people can call the Jack in the Box taco anything they’d like, but numbers don’t lie. In a single year, Americans eat 554 million of these so-called “wet envelopes of cat food.” Does that say more about the quality of taco, or people in general? We’ll let you decide.
As for Carl’s Junior, there is no menu item up for constant debate like the Jack in the Box taco, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. All things considered, it’s a more predictable menu, with a plethora of burger and chicken sandwich options. If you’re looking for a classic burger, go for the Big Hamburger (clever name, guys!), but if you want something a little more, dare we say it – artisanal? – try the Mushroom and Swiss Thickburger.
Are There Any Healthy Options, Like At All?
Nowadays, nearly every restaurant has adapted to society’s healthy-living craze, whether we’re talking fast food restaurants or fancy sit-down places. So, in an effort to be like everyone else (even though health-food is totally out of both Carl’s Jr. and Jack in the Box’s ballpark), there are a couple of semi-healthy dishes to choose from if you so wish.
Jack in the Box has the Grilled Chicken Salad for 360 calories, the Chicken Fajita Pita for 320 calories, and the Grilled Chicken Strips with Teriyaki Dipping Sauce for 310 calories. Each of these menu items is a bit high in sodium content, but it’s the best you can get.
At Carl’s Jr., there seems to be more of an effort to offer healthy alternatives with their Turkey Burger and lettuce bun options. According to Tracy from StayFitMom.com, ordering the Turkey Burger Low-Carb Style, a side salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and an unsweetened iced-tea is the healthiest meal you can get at the fast-food chain.
What Kind Of Prices Are We Talkin’?
Telling you all about fast food menu prices is our job, clearly, but nobody has all day to sit and compare Carl’s Jr. vs Jack in the Box prices. For the sake of your time and sanity, we’ll go ahead and break down the prices for a couple of their similar menu items. The Ultimate Cheeseburger Combo at Jack in the Box is $6.68, while the 1/3 lb. Cheeseburger Combo at Carl’s Jr. is $6.69. And when it comes to chicken, Jack in the Box has the Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club for $4.99, and Carl’s Jr. serves their Charbroiled Chicken Club for $5.29. The similar pricing is reflected throughout the entire menu, with small variations depending on each restaurant’s spin on the dish.
What’s The Consensus?
Based on quality, taste, price, and customer reviews, the winner of the Carl’s Jr. vs Jack in the Box challenge is…Jack in the Box. While we love a good ol’ Big Burger from Carl’s, nothing wins us over like a cheap, greasy taco and a cheap, greasy burger from the same place.