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11 Things You Might Not Know About Jack In The Box

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Jeremy Brooks via Flickr

It's a burger joint known for its tacos and irreverent mascot, but Jack in the Box has a lot more snacks and hijinks where that comes from.

1. ITS FOUNDER PIONEERED THE DRIVE-THRU.

Robert O. Peterson opened the first Jack in the Box restaurant in San Diego, Calif. in 1951 by converting one location of his Oscar’s restaurant chain into a new animal altogether: a drive-thru hamburger stand. Having bought the rights to an intercom-based drive-thru setup from another restaurateur, Peterson started expanding this new model, mounting the intercom inside a plastic clown. Today, the company operates over 2200 restaurants (mostly on the West Coast), though the clown-tercoms have long since been replaced with regular speaker setups.

2. BY 1980, THE COMPANY WAS SICK OF CLOWNS, SO IT BLEW THEM UP.

In the late '70s, Jack in the Box decided to shed its circus-like interiors, lose the clowns atop its restaurants and in its drive-thrus, and evolve into something that’d appeal more to adults than children. So, in 1980, the chain kicked off a decade or so of ‘premium fare’-aimed marketing with a commercial in which a group of employees blow up the mascot while a drive-thru customer gives the order to "Waste him!” Later commercials, including one from 1981, continued to echo the idea of explosive changes going on at the restaurants.

3. BUT IN 1994, JACK CAME BACK AND RETURNED THE FAVOR.

The mid-’90s “Jack’s Back” campaign reestablished the mascot (“thanks to the miracle of plastic surgery”) and was meant to help reinvent the company after a major E. coli contamination crisis in 1993, which resulted in several deaths and left the chain near bankruptcy. The campaign’s TV commercials quickly established that the new-and-improved character—now named Jack Box—was indeed back in town, but the use of a remote detonator bomb in the ad drew criticism in the wake of domestic terror attacks along the East Coast.

4. THE NEW JACK STARTED TAKING DOWN HIS HATERS, TOO.

A later commercial, from 1997, shows Mr. Box sparking a violent confrontation with a man who’s been calling the chain “junk in the box.” Jack shows up on his doorstep unannounced and chases the man through his house and into his back yard (with the cameraperson running along behind, Cops-style). He force-feeds the naysayer Jack in the Box fare while pinning him to the ground. “Tasty!” the man declares while a menacing Jack asks, “You’re not just saying that 'cause I could snap your arm like a twig?” The ad was only shown after 10 p.m., and it won an award at an international advertising festival the following year.

5. SINCE THEN, JACK HAS RUN FOR PRESIDENT AND BEEN HIT BY A BUS, AMONG OTHER THINGS.

For a fast food mascot, Jack Box is an extremely developed character—one who, according to the company, may look “a bit like a clown, due to a genetically inherited large white head” (a trait only affecting Box family males) but is nevertheless “a serious businessman.”

Over the course of more than 2200 English- and Spanish-language commercials, we’ve learned that Jack has a wife named Cricket, a son named Jack Jr., and mullet-sporting cousins in Philly. The chain’s "Jack Facts" page also mentions that he is 6'8" (without his hat), was born on May 16, and speaks Mandarin. As a 1996 presidential candidate, Jack reportedly also “beat out Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in a national independent virtual poll.” In 2009, however, the company decided to test his popularity and relevancy, so Jack got hit by a bus. This took him out of commission until an “unprecedented” outcry from fans in the form of thousands of emails and letters convinced the company to keep him on as spokesperson.

6. THE MAN BEHIND “JACK BOX” IS A TOTAL CHARACTER, TOO.

Actor and ad man Richard “Dick” Sittig lends his voice to Jack Box’s big white head, but he has also been nurturing and shaping the character and masterminding Jack commercials since 1995. After pioneering the “Jack’s Back” era with a larger ad firm for two years, Sittig split off and formed his own agency, Secret Weapon Marketing, which since been handling Jack in the Box ads since.

Commercials featuring Jack Box have accounted for huge growth in the company, and have developed a cult following thanks to an “irreverent humor” that especially tickles younger men, the LA Times reflects. Sittig told the paper, "If our target was a 75-year-old woman, we'd be a Hallmark card." As to who Mr. Box really is, Sittig painted an image for Adweek that is part adventurer, part tycoon: “[Being] intimidating is part of Jack's persona—a Trump-ian, or actually a Branson kind of thing. He's a larger-than-life celebrity CEO.”

7. THE COMPANY’S MADE ENOUGH JACK ORNAMENTS FOR 11% OF ALL U.S. CARS.

Since “reigniting the antenna ball craze in 1995 with [the] Classic Jack antenna ball,” Jack in the Box has reportedly sold or given away over 28 million antenna balls—or enough to adorn around 11% of the 253 million cars in the United States—plus “more than 5 million other premiums bearing Jack’s likeness,” such as collectible Pez dispensers.

Jack swag has also included occasional movie promos, like a 1995 line of posters and cups celebrating the release of Star Trek: Generations—the promotion invited customers to “Galaxy-Size” their meals and/or “beam up to bigger fries” for only 39 cents extra.

8. JACK IN THE BOX’S TACOS HAVEN’T CHANGED IN 50 YEARS, BASICALLY.

Are Tacos tax deductible? Because if they are I’m getting quite a big refund. #TaxDay

A photo posted by Jack in the Box (@jackinthebox) on

Undeniably alluring as they are, Jack in the Box’s 2-for-99-cents tacos don't necessarily have a lot in common with the typical fast-food taco. Nevertheless, the chain sells about 400 million of them per year, all without having changed its basic recipe—seasoned meat lump, two triangles of American cheese, some shredded iceberg lettuce, and a little sauce—in around 50 years. The main difference is that today's Jack in the Box taco meat mixture now has some textured vegetable-based proteins in there, too.

9. IN 2004, JACK IN THE BOX TRIED TO GET SIT-DOWN CLASSY WITH “JBX GRILL”...

In recent years, a number of new and established restaurant chains have been trying to cash in on the "fast-casual dining" craze that’s put businesses like Chipotle at the top of the lunch break heap. While McDonald’s, for one, has only recently experimented with “build-a-burger” sit-down restaurants in the past year or so, Jack in the Box was ahead of the trend with its JBX Grill locations—opened on a trial basis in 2004, and featuring cozier chairs, fancier toppings, and even a few fireplaces—though perhaps too much so; sadly, they were scrapped just two years later.

10. ...BUT LATELY, IT’S (PROBABLY) BEEN TARGETING HUNGRY STONERS.

Coming from a born-and-raised California chain, it’s possible that Jack in the Box’s recent ad campaign “featuring vacant, half-baked millennials” was responding to recent legislative and cultural shifts that have made marijuana a lot more accessible to Golden State residents.

Explained in one ad spot, the promotional $6 Munchie Meal is a “boxful of crunchy crave-ables,” appropriate for that window between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. when “things get weird” and containing items that an experimental snacker might concoct (and get really excited about): a grilled cheese sandwich grafted to a burger, a chicken bacon melt with a hashbrown patty wedged in, and so on. In another 2014 commercial, a young woman and a puppet version of Mr. Box, chilling out in bean-bag chairs, discuss the pros and cons of having spoons for hands before Puppet Jack suggests a late-night food run.

The Week reported, however, that the fast food company insists it’s not deliberately targeting pot smokers but rather “folks looking for indulgent treats,” such as “late-night shift workers and millennials who get the munchies at odd hours.” So...stoners, yes?

11. IN ADDITION TO CHEAP MUNCHABLES, IT HOLDS THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR LARGEST COUPON.

As Guinness notes, the restaurant was awarded the honor this past March for constructing an “eight-story-high voucher measuring an incredible 185.81 m² (2,000 ft²), highlighting a Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) offer on ‘Buttery Jack,’ a quarter-pound burger with garlic herb butter melted on top.” Customers were allowed to ‘redeem’ the coupon by displaying a picture they’d taken of it at checkout.

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15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
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DreamWorks

An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

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European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
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Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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