Jack in the Box has pulled the toys from its kids’ meals and added new options for children while rolling out new menu boards that executives said are easier to navigate and highlight higher-margin items.
The San Diego-based Jack in the Box Inc., parent to the 2,200-unit chain, said its decision to stop offering toys with kids’ meals did not come from outside pressure. Activist groups have become more vocal across the U.S., advocating their belief that the marketing of fast-food to children is associated with rising obesity rates, and legislation in two California counties has already restricted the use of toys in certain kids’ meals.
Brian Luscomb, spokesman for Jack in the Box, said the company was aware of efforts to ban toys in kids’ meals, “but that did not drive our decision.” Toys had been a part of kids’ meals at Jack in the Box for more than two decades.
“Our advertising and promotions have focused on the frequent fast-food customer, not children,” he said. “Parents were generally not choosing Jack in the Box as a dining destination because of a toy.”
Legislation has passed in San Francisco and Santa Clara counties in California banning the inclusion of toys with kids’ meals that do not meet certain nutritional standards. Similar restrictions have been proposed at the state level in California, while other states have pre-emptively moved to block such legislation.
“Rather than promote a toy, we’ve focused on the quality of products in our kids’ meals,” Luscomb said, “like a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough, grilled or crispy chicken strips, or a hamburger.”
Last week, the chain also rolled out the addition of apple bites with caramel dipping sauce as a kids’ meal alternative to French fries.
“We believe that providing these kinds of options is more appealing to a parent than packaging a toy with lower-quality fare,” Luscomb said.
The chain stopped offering toys with the roll out of the apple bites last week. Signs are posted in stores warning parents that kids’ meals no longer include the trinkets.
In addition, Jack in the Box last week rolled out new menu boards that aim to reduce clutter and better highlight higher-margin items and check builders, Luscomb said.
With the move, several menu items were deleted from the menu, including the steak teriyaki bowl, the mini sirloin burgers, the chorizo burrito and pita snacks.
The menu boards’ new design is “based on feedback from guests who said they were cluttered and difficult to navigate,” Luscomb said.
The new design highlights categories more clearly, from the “burgers and more,” to “chicken and more” and “value and kids.”