If you grew up in America within the past 50 years, a few of your fondest memories probably have something to do with fast food.
Remember your first car and your first Big Mac? Or trying to write a last-minute English essay on the hidden symbolism of french fries? How about the sack of Whoppers with which you fortified yourself before a rollicking road trip to Berkeley?
You may have forgotten the name of your first date, but you’ll never forget your first onion ring…
Some fast foods, I’ve found, are merely edible while others are nothing less than an adventure.
Thanks to a recent missive from Jack in the Box restaurants, I was reminded of the delightfully demented 1960s when just about anything seemed possible – including airborne tacos, Richard Nixon and Who concerts at Guadalupe Reservoir.
For reasons I have yet to determine, Jack in the Box recently sent me a comprehensive report on its ubiquitous taco, noting that roughly 600 of their tacos are consumed every minute and that, placed end-to-end, the annual number of Jack in the Box tacos sold would stretch roughly 28,500 miles.
The stats were amusing, but the mere mention of these taco-like foodstuffs sent me rocketing back to the turbulent ’60s when we relied on fast foods to fortify our socio-political commitments, help us study for classes we’d forgotten to attend and to mitigate the effects of too much Red Mountain Wine.
To be honest, we never really thought of the Jack in the Box creations as tacos per se. They were these folded up things that flew out a tiny window if you talked to the clown and then threw fat wads of cash at the guy in the little hat behind the counter.
My old ’60s sidekick, Sapper, may have best summed up the crunchy food product when he hefted two of them over his head, examined them from every possible angle and then proclaimed, “I think I saw something like this on ‘Twilight Zone’ once, bro, except they were, like, breathing and gettin’ ready to invade this little burg in Iowa…”
(NOTE; Sapper may be the only person on earth who remembers this particular “Twilight Zone” episode.)
That first encounter with the basic Jack in the Box taco sold us, though. We discovered they were as good for breakfast as they were for dinner, that they could be thrown much like a Frisbee for high speed delivery under less-than-ideal conditions (“Oh, maaaaaan, where’d all those cops come from?!”) and also could be utilized as convenient book marks while studying for finals.
Finally, the taco-like objects sustained Sapper and I during the big Who concert at Guadalupe Dam.
You don’t remember the big Who concert at Guadalupe Dam? Neither do the surviving members of The Who, but an investigative disc jockey at KSJO had told us it was a sure thing and that the British rockers were planning a free concert at the isolated dam site near Almaden.
So we, er, told about 400 close friends, all of whom showed up for the non-concert and-or to say good-bye to Sapper’s kid brother, who had just enlisted in the U.S. Army.
No, The Who never made an appearance, but Sapper did and he had a duffel bag full of Jack in the Box tacos. Somehow, this balanced the unstable karma at the dam and we avoided being lynched by disappointed Who fans.
Like I said, those were delightfully demented days..
Originally published March 11, 2001