The chain began in San Diego, California in 1941 and was known as Topsy’s Drive-In. The owner, Robert O. Peterson, changed the name to Oscar’s and by the end of the 40’s he had several locations in California. In 1951 he built a restaurant in Long Beach with the name Jack in the Box. The restaurant featured a giant clown on top and boasted the first ever two-way intercom system. Eliminating carhops, the location was able to serve people in a much faster way leading to its immense popularity. Soon all of the Oscar’s restaurants were equipped with the new drive-thru system and renamed Jack in the Box. Pretty cool, huh?
Over the years Jack in the Box has had some struggles as far as business is concerned. In the 80s they were failing to compete with big chains like McDonald’s, so they tried to mature their image. They changed up their menu, restaurant décor, and for a year they even changed the name to Monterey Jack’s. Then there was a horrible discovery that a lot of their beef was actually horse or kangaroo meat, and then there was a huge E-coli outbreak in the 90s resulting in the death of four children. Jack in the Box lost a lot of money from these incidents, but through the use of a revamped marketing campaign they were able to distance themselves from the scandals and find success in the western U.S.
The marketing involved a character named Jack who is the CEO of Jack in the Box. In the commercials, he came back to take over the company and do things the right way. The character still remains prominent today, with his big ping-pong ball head and pointy black nose. Today Jack in the Box has 2,200 locations in 19 states and employs over 40,000 people.