Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Can Two Rights Make A Wrong?

Ice cream: delicious.  Bacon: also delicious, but in a very different way. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to breed a pork product and a dairy product and mass market their unusual offspring.  Jack in the Box stepped in and courageously took on this daunting task.

A smile of pure insanity!

That's right, last month Jack in the Box rolled out a limited-time only bacon milkshake, featuring "real vanilla ice cream, bacon-flavored syrup, whipped topping, and a maraschino cherry."  Frankly, I'm a little disappointed that it's only bacon flavoring in the shake--if I'm going to try something this unique, I expect authentic pieces of bacon in my ice cream. But I can't complain too loudly, since they went out of their way to point out to the vanilla ice cream is real.  But the fake bacon approach allowed Jack in the Box to appeal to a much wider audience (no pun intended), since it's vegetarian, kosher, vegan, and all that good stuff.

 It's real all right...except for the bacon...

I've heard rumors that Jack In The Box is trying to keep this limited-time treat shrouded in mystery, perhaps trying to cash in on the cachet of the "secret menu" at fast food rival In-N-Out Burger. Supposedly, the bacon milkshake doesn't appear on the menu at Jack in the Box restaurants; in-the-know customers have to ask for it by name. And the formula for this pork/dairy hybrid is also a closely-guarded secret.

Yet it would appear that Jack in the Box isn't trying too hard to keep everything about the bacon milkshake a secret, since it's featured on the official website, where I was able to pull up the nutrition information:

If you eat one of these, it'll be no secret to your arteries--you can't deny that the statistics on this things are pretty impressive.  The bacon milkshake proudly passes the four-digit mark in the calorie department and adds an impressive 54 grams of fat (37 saturated!), with 126 grams of carbs. But hey, this is the large, after all. For the health conscious, Jack in the Box does offer a slimmer 16oz "regular" size as well.  I'm intrigued by the "Build A Meal" button next to the nutrition facts.  The bacon shake covers three major food groups (meat, dairy, and fruit, with the cherry) and has more than a 50% daily value of just about every unhealthy ingredient you could ask for. Isn't this thing already a meal?!  

But I'm most impressed by the protein content.  How did Jack in the Box cram 17 grams of protein into a milkshake that doesn't contain any real bacon?!  All I know is that I need to get my hands on that secret bacon syrup formula, because while I'm not convinced that bacon flavored ice cream is the greatest idea, there are plenty of foods that could use some bacon-infused enhancement, all without the hassle of carrying around a frying pan and a slab of bacon...

Fast food joints are all over the news these days, taking heat from critics who blame them for America's weight problems. Not surprisingly, a menu item like the bacon milkshake has drawn more than it's share of criticism.  But I wondered if it's really that much worse than anything else out there--the standard fast food milkshake is hardly health food, after all.

McDonald's is currently offering a limited-time only milkshake of it's own, the St. Patrick's Day-inspired McCafe Shamrock Shake.

I'm not sure what shamrock flavoring tastes like (chlorophyll, perhaps?), but I figured this thing couldn't be much healthier than Jack in the Box's concoction--it's probably ice cream and some kind of grass-flavored syrup. So I pulled up the McDonald's dessert menu and checked out the stats:

Impressive numbers, but not as bad as the bacon milkshake.  However, this thing is half the size of the large bacon milkshake, so the two are actually comparable in a lot of the health categories.  And again I wonder how they get 10 grams of protein in there...

Based on these findings, Jack in the Box doesn't deserve the bad press it's received for the bacon milkshake.  I've heard nothing but positive reviews for the Shamrock Shake, which is no friend to America's arteries.

I still don't know what to think of the bacon milkshake, and unfortunately it's limited time on this planet may expire before I'm able to draw any final conclusions or taste it for myself, since Jack in the Box seems to avoid the boring, northern Midwest states. I've gotta believe they're missing out on a huge market for a product like the bacon milkshake by staying away from the heart of hog and dairy country, but it's their loss.

It appears that if my curiously gets the best of me and I want to try a vegetarian, bacon-flavored ice cream treat, I'm going to have to do it the old fashioned way, with a bottle of Bac-Os and a pint of Ben & Jerry's...

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