In the wake of America’s love-hate relationship with the petrol pump, one fictional character has the intrepid spirit to take the steps of leadership that pandering politicians dare not consider. On Thursday, June 26, Jack, CEO of west coast fast food chain Jack in the Box, staged the restaurant’s first ever Two Free Tacos Day. Rather than gloss over the greater issue of America’s fiduciary failings, Jack chose to confront cash-strapped countrymen with a double dose of camaraderie.
Achieving what years of obnoxious phone company marketing could never have hoped to attain, this 99 cent holiday for the people puts the state of our lives into immediate perspective: Sure, gas may hit five dollars a gallon by the Fourth of July, but as long as we can buy two tacos for a dollar, do we really have any right to complain? Instead of making poorly guided attempts to deflate the truth, we may as well embrace- or at least characteristically disregard- our addiction to hyper-consuming lifestyles that well surpass the limits of reason and decency. If we’re lucky, history will seize the Jack in the Box taco for use as a cultural insignia, a glistening trophy of America’s incongruous accomplishments.
An explanation for those who are unfamiliar with this post-national flagship of fast food inventions: The Jack in the Box taco, a menu item as old as the restaurant itself, is a cross-cultural synthesis with the power to define a demographic (according to Jack in the Box, that demographic is men age 18-34). Its assembly requires factory workers to unite the organic with the industrial, deftly weaving fresh ground corn and near-fresh ground beef with seitan, soy, MSG, and all other kinds of wonders of the modern age. The result is a product that may contain within it the combined culinary character of our civilization.
The fact that this is the most shameless of gringo tacos stands in full reflection of its kaleidoscopic temperament. Cooked fresh then flash frozen, deep fried then adorned with cheap hamburger trimmings, the Jack in the Box taco is a sapphire of a socioeconomic metaphor. The corn tortilla says, “This land is your land.” The slice of American cheese, peeking out of the shell like a stars and stripes bumper sticker, says, “Resistance is futile. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.” As we live off the hopes and dreams of immigrants while blithely degrading their identities, Jack in the Box offers a border-crossing reconstitution of culture that everyone can love- or at least, for one night, one that everyone can afford.
When the realities of resource management are fully brought to bear on America, it will become clear that the automobile’s time as an icon has come to an end. This is a good thing. Perhaps being forced to walk to Jack in the Box for the next pair of deep fried tacos will help the populace appreciate the genuine gifts this great country of ours has to offer.