I’m going out of my usual review realm tonight and bringing you something from a major fast food chain: specifically, the Hot Mess Burger and Wedges from Jack In The Box. Normally, reviews of artery-clogging restaurant food typically fall in Scrovak’s domain, but the nearest Jack In The Box location is a few hundred hours away from his current domicile. Anyway, you’ve probably seen the Hot Mess advertisements on TV that feature a glam rock version of mascot Jack jamming out to his “#1 hit single” of the same name. Say what you will about the chain’s (often very suggestive) advertising gimmicks, but I’ve been wanting to try the burger for weeks. Well, opportunity knocked, so here’s what I thought.
Wedges: Golden Potato Wedges, Melty Pepper Jack Cheese, Jalapenos
The colorful language there is from the website, not from my own inventive mind. What I like about this one is that it’s actually pretty simple. Personally, I’m not a fan of onion rings, but I left them on the burger when I ordered it just so I could show you what this thing looks like.
We all know that fast food never really looks like it does on the commercials or websites. But let’s get real: the burger on the website looks absolutely fantastic. The onion rings, jalapenos, and melted cheese are all overlapping each other in what really is best described as a “hot mess.” Certainly, the advertising pictures suggest that the burger lives up to its name. The real deal, though, isn’t quite as beautiful. Sure, all of the required components are there, but the burger looks kind of lifeless. I had exactly four jalapeno slices on my burger, which is a disappointing number. The cheese was messy, yes, but all that meant was that half of it got left on the wrapper. The worst part about the presentation, though, is that the onion rings weren’t even part of the presentation at all! They were buried under the patty and smashed into the bottom bun, almost completely invisible until I separated the layers of the burger. By the same token, the potatoes looked like they were slapped together with less care than an order of nachos at a high school football game. Overall, my first impression made me a little sad, but I can’t say I didn’t see it coming.
Smell and Taste:
I won’t complain about the smell here. The thing smelled like a cheeseburger, one that packs a slight hint of spice. The potatoes likewise had the appropriate smell. The jalapenos, though lacking in number, were nice and fresh, and the cheese was sufficiently gooey. Everything tastes like it should, I suppose, though I wish it had been warmer. I don’t really live far at all from the restaurant, but my burger and wedges weren’t quite as warm as I would have liked.
After those complaints, I do have some good news. Although the food fails on the presentation account (naturally), it at least lives up to spiciness expectations. A good bite (one with a jalapeno, I mean), carries the appropriate level of jalapeno-style heat, making the overall dish a Medium on our scale. Of course, since my food had so few jalapenos, not every bite actually had that level of heat. As for flavor, I’m giving it a Nominal. It’s good, and I would eat it again, but it is far from my favorite burger. To be honest, I think the problem is actually the cheese. It is sufficiently melty and gooey, but it tastes more like a pepperjack version of canned cheese than it does like authentic sliced cheese. Still, the meat and peppers are good, and I absolutely love the chain’s sourdough bread. Overall, this is a burger that’s worth trying once, but I can’t really see it being a mainstay.
When someone orders the burger, the cashier is supposed to let out some kind of battle cry/cheer, followed up by a “S/He just ordered a Hot Mess!” If they don’t do this when you get the burger, they’re doing their jobs wrong, and you should tell them.