Today’s quirky A-Hed feature in The Wall Street Journal seeks to tackle one of life’s most enduring mysteries. No, not the answer to why some humans spontaneously combust or what the hell happened to flight MH370, but rather why anyone in possession of a singular taste bud would voluntarily eat a Jack in the Box taco, a food item even addicts openly label “nasty,” “soggy,” and “vile.” In his admirable hunt, writer Russell Adams talks to a variety of self-professed fans — a group he notes purchase 554 million of these things a year, which comes to 1,055 every minute — and honestly he still fails to move society any closer to a solution:
Jack in the Box now sells more tacos than any other item on its menu thanks to a legion of fans who swear by the greasy vessels even as they sometimes struggle to understand their appeal.
The first time Heather Johnson tasted a Jack in the Box taco, she was at a drive-through in Cincinnati …
She took two bites, threw the rest on the passenger seat and kept driving. “It was stale, greasy, spicy, crunchy, saucy and just plain strange … Who puts a slice of American cheese in a taco?”
Two minutes later, she picked the taco off the seat and finished it. Then she ate the other one.“I was like, ‘I must have more. This is vile and amazing,’” she said.
The story traces the phenomenon as best as it can, noting the celebrity devotees (Chelsea Handler, Chrissy Teigen, Selena Gomez) and quoting random non-famous lovers of the item, which for the uninitiated is a taco in name only — it features a deep-fried, leatherlike shell filled with the following ingredients, listed here in order of quantity: grease, meat that involves “textured vegetable protein,” a full slice of American cheese, some lettuce, hot sauce. A competitive eater even once gave up his quest to eat 50 because the fried shell kept “cutting up my mouth inside.” Most notably among the others who confessed to eating the pseudo-tacos was one guy who likens them to “a wet envelope of cat food” and puts himself in the only class of Jack in the Box taco consumers he believes exists: “those who agree they’re disgusting but are powerless to resist them.”