By Robert J. Sodaro

Jack In The Box

Founded in 1951 by Robert O. Peterson, who was already the owner of a successful chain of restaurants, Jack in the Box was the nation’s very first drive-through restaurant. Peterson named this new chain Jack in the Box because he wanted to attract children. He also wished to convey the message that the food was served fast. An oversized version of a toy clown popping out of a box was soon installed as the main attraction at each location.

During the ‘50s, a Jack in the Box hamburger sold for 19˘ and a hot apple turnover sold for 17˘. Jack in the Box had introduced its own soft drink, Jack Cola, in 1968, only to eventually replace it with Coca-Cola in 1971. Jack in the Box restaurants are primarily located in the West and South, and used to prominently feature Jack, a smiling clown, who greeted customers who would order via a two-way speaker inside Jack’s head.

In a 1980 TV ad, the company blew up Jack the clown in an effort to indicate that the company was altering its market position to attract adult tastes as well as offer upscale menu choices. In ‘95, Jack was reintroduced as the company’s icon/spokesperson in Jack’s Back advertising and marketing campaign. The ads featured Jack as a ‘90s corporate executive. The campaign helped promote innovative products and value menus as well as the company’s core burger menu.

Known as a trendsetter and innovator, Jack in the Box introduced the industry’s first breakfast sandwich and the first pre-packaged portable salad. Today, Jack in the Box tailors its menu to adult tastes and features one of the most varied and high quality menus in the fast-food industry.

During the company’s early years, Jack in the Box business operations were conducted under various names and structures, including Foodmaker, Inc. In 1968, Foodmaker was acquired by Ralston Purina. Foodmaker’s management achieved a leveraged buyout in ‘85, and the company went public two years later. In 1988, management took the company private once again. In ‘92 it went public once more and is currently still publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (FM).

The company partners with national consumer organizations to educate the public about the best ways families can protect themselves against food poisoning. Foodmaker, Inc. operates and franchises more than 2,100 Jack in the Box restaurants in 17 states. Based in San Diego, Jack in the Box operates more than two-thirds of its restaurants and franchises the rest and is among the nation’s largest hamburger fast-food chains.

View the Jack in the box Toy  Listing

Robert J. Sodaro is the author of Kiddie Meal Collectibles (Krause; 2001), a comprehensive reference book and price guide to some 40 fast food franchises. The book contains a chronological listing of their respective toys and collectibles, as well as a price guide, which was compiled by co-author Alex G. Malloy (Comics Values Annual: Krause). The entire article and price listing are copyright © 2008 by Robert J. Sodaro D.B.A. Freelance Ink