What You Should Know About Jack In The Box's First Plant-Based Menu Item

Those who are looking for a meatless future, look no further than Reno, Nevada, or Monterey or Salinas, California. Forbes reported on October 15 that these three locations will serve as test sites for Jack in the Box's new Unchicken Sandwich. From October 15 to December 12, or until they run out of supplies, Jack in the Box will offer their substitute chicken sandwich with mayo, lettuce, and tomato in their classic or spicy flavor options for $6.99.

"As the industry continues to show a continued interest and increase in plant-based food consumption, our Jack's Unchicken Sandwiches are a timely, enticing addition to menus for meat and plant eaters alike," Jennifer Kennedy, Senior Vice President of and chief product and innovation officer for Jack in the Box explained. "If the test is successful, hopefully it will usher in a runway of further innovation in this lane."

The news of Jack in the Box's foray into meatless fast food products arrived at the same time as Food Beast's notice that the franchise is offering chicken-scented masks for free on October 23. These masks, as their webpage for them makes pains to note, are brought to you by "Jack's new Unchicken Sandwich." The connection between the two seems to be symbolic substitutes for poultry. It'll be worth seeing, however, whether many customers use these masks and if so, if wearing the scent of chicken for hours causes them to visit Jack in the Box again.

To cruelty free and beyond!

As the Forbes piece notes, the story of the coronavirus wreaking havoc upon the fast food industry has overshadowed the progress made by these companies — with the notably obvious exception of Arby's — in introducing meatless protein options to their menus. In fact, this is the second chicken-less chicken experiment conducted in this industry in the last couple of years.

In August, Farming Independent reported that KFC was testing their plant-based nuggets and wings in Atlanta, Georgia. However, the highly processed food product is barely healthier than the chicken original, as the board-certified and licensed dietitian-nutritionist Whitney Stuart told Insider: "At the end of the day, we're aiming for a natural, whole food, and this isn't it."

Still, with Jack in the Box's entrance onto the faux chicken arena, a new competition has begun. Dubbed "Chicken Wars with a Plant-Based Twist" by The Food Institute, Jack in the Box and KFC are set to compete over the market share of non-carnivorous fast food aficionados. Their efforts are being matched abroad by the British chicken chain Nando's with their pea protein-based The Great Imitator and Fazena Futuro, a Brazillian-based foodtech company. 

Further implementations of these runs could be in doubt, says Insider, as it's unclear whether KFC will commit to developing a non-meat cooking situation to stop risks of contamination. Similarly, The Food Institute notes that Nandos's option isn't vegan as the threat of cross-contamination remains. Perhaps conditions are perfect for Jack in the Box to disrupt the party.