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Stoners: Jack in the Box wants your business
Jack wants you to tuck into his tasty bunk bed
Yep, that's pretty genius marketing.
Yep, that's pretty genius marketing. (Facebook / Jack in the Box)
J

ack in the Box, following in the footsteps of the rest of the fast food industry, is making a bid for the late-night crowd.

The West Coast fast food chain just released its Munchie Meal Menu — four new value meal items the company says are designed for the "late-night" crowd.

The options include: The Brunch Burger, a burger with a fried egg and hash brown draped across the patty; the Exploding Cheesy Chicken Sandwich, a fried chicken sandwich drenched in melted cheese sticks and cheese sauce; Loaded Chicken Nuggets, chicken nuggets "drowning" in two kind of cheese, ranch, and bacon; and finally, the crown jewel of the menu — the Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger, "sourdough grilled cheese on top, cheeseburger on the bottom," as the press release put it, adding, "Tuck into this tasty bunk bed."

Though the release is written in stoner-ese — they've found the "cure to mellow even the meanest manifestation of the munchies" — Jack in the Box denies trying to lure druggies to its drive-thrus. Keith Guilbault, vice president of menu innovation at Jack in the Box, told USA Today's Bruce Horovitz that the new menu is "targeted at folks looking for indulgent treats." Horovitz says that includes "late-night shift workers and Millennials who get the munchies at odd hours." (We're pretty sure that just means stoners.)

But Jack in the Box, already known for stoner delicacies like the Pop Tart Ice Cream Sandwich, isn't exactly reinventing the wheel with this one. Competitors have been unrolling special menus for millennial night owls for years now: Taco Bell calls it the "Fourth Meal," McDonald's names it the "After Midnight" menu, and Wendy's went with "Moonlight Meal Deals." White Castle has been serving breakfast from midnight on since 2011, and even gave its official stamp of approval to the ultimate generation Y stoner movie, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle."

The restaurants are all trying capitalize on night-time business — "one of the few growth categories in fast food," says Horovitz. But is blatantly aiming that effort at stoners "genius marketing or shameless pandering?" asks Ally Grigg, on the 5gbFree Blog.

She thinks the former. "Fast-food restaurants have caught on one of their largest fan bases: Teenagers and college students, especially those who like to eat at odd hours of the night." It makes sense. "People who are stoned want junk food immediately without having to make it. They have money to burn and less of a sense of their responsibilities."

Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

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