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Jack in the Box's first new burger in 8 years sold out so fast you can't find it anywhere right now

Nancy Luna,Anneta Konstantinides   

Jack in the Box's first new burger in 8 years sold out so fast you can't find it anywhere right now
  • Jack in the Box quietly rolled out the Smashed Jack burger in early January.
  • The chain's first new burger in eight years was expected to be available for six weeks.

Jack in the Box wants the Smashed Jack to be the "best burger" in the fast-food industry.

It's off to a great start.

Two weeks after launching, the Smashed Jack has become a fast-food unicorn. It's nearly impossible to find as the chain ran out of supplies to make the specialized burger, which customers couldn't get enough of.

"We're sold out," Ryan Ostrom, Jack in the Box's chief marketing officer, told reporters at a media event Wednesday at the chain's San Diego headquarters.

The fast-food chain, a self-billed edgy rival to McDonald's, quietly rolled out the Smashed Jack in early January.

"No marketing, no advertising, we just put it on the menus," Ostrom said.

But word still got out, leading to hordes of fans scrambling to get their hands on the $8 premium burger. Ostrom said the chain sold nearly 70,000 burgers in a single day. One store received a single order for 27 Smashed Jacks.

Ostrom said the original plan was to quietly launch the burger for about six weeks to get restaurant teams prepared for a national launch in the spring. But the Smashed Jack was so popular that, after two weeks, supplies ran out, and the chain couldn't get enough patties out to stores.

"We couldn't keep it in stock, we couldn't keep it on the shelves," Ostrom said. "We unfortunately failed on this soft launch, which we did not think was going to happen."

The Smashed Jack, which took two years to develop, features a hefty, ¼-pound smashed-style beef patty that's made in a manufacturing facility and then shipped to the chain's 2,200 US restaurants. It also comes with two slices of cheese, a new Thousand Island-inspired "Boss" sauce, pickles, and loads of grilled onions — all stuffed between a brioche bun.

The loose-grind 100% seasoned beef patty is different from other burgers on the menu.

"It's actually the biggest patty we have," Ostrom said, adding that it was also "juicier" than other patties on the menu.

The chain is ramping up production of the smashed-style patties and said it was "working quickly to ensure a smooth and successful wide launch that will meet the unprecedented demand" for the burger when it officially rolls out in late February. A bacon double Smashed Jack, a burger with two patties and bacon, is also set to be available.

"We're just making sure we have enough in store. Will we? We don't know yet," Ostrom said this week. "It depends on the passion for this burger. We're predicting strong results from it. We hope our stores can stay in stock. They might not. And if it happens again, then we'll have to figure out another plan and make more."

The popularity of the burger is reminiscent of the 2019 debut of Popeyes' fried-chicken sandwich. It launched in August of that year and immediately sold out as the chain ran out of inventory to make the sandwich.

The sandwich is now a staple on the Popeyes menu and ignited a never-ending chicken-sandwich war with rivals such as Chick-fil-A and McDonald's.

Jack in the Box is hoping for the same kind of buzz with the Smashed Jack.

The chain said the burger scored big in a recent blind taste test it conducted that put the Smashed Jack up against burgers from McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King.

Ostrom said consumers chose the Smashed Jack as the best burger. He's not shy about his aspirations for the burger, which come as McDonald's is revamping its burgers.

He said Jack in the Box wanted its burger to be the best in the quick-service restaurant industry. "I get excited when we go after the competition."

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