"Our advertising and promotions have focused on the frequent fast-food customer, not children," a company spokesperson told NRN, but "parents were generally not choosing Jack in the Box as a dining destination because of a toy."
The San Diego-based restaurant chain, which as 2,200 restaurants i 19 states, is simultaneously introducing healthier kid-oriented menu items, including a grilled-cheese sandwich on sourdough bread, grilled or crispy chicken strips, and Chiquita apple bites with caramel dipping sauce (as an alternative to French fries).
"We believe that providing these kinds of options is more appealing to a parent than packaging a toy with lower-quality fare," said the spokesperson.
Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for nutritional advocacy nonprofit the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI), hailed Jack in the Box's decision. McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Taco Bell should follow suit, rather than continuing to resort to the "discredited" kids' toy marketing tactic. It's "too bad" these chains think that they can't compete on the basis of quality, value, taste or nutrion rather than "luring" familes with toys, she asserted.
Two counties in California--San Francisco and Santa Clara--have passed legislation barring toy premiums with kids' meals that do not meet specific nutrional standards. In addition, CSPI is legally representing a California mother who is suing McDonald's over its use of toys to market to children.