Why Doesn’t Utah Have a Jack in the Box?

Jack in the Box is beloved by many consumers in the Western United States. However, if one finds themself craving a “Buttery Jack” in Utah, the closest location just might be out of state. But why does Utah not have any Jack in the Box restaurant?

There are only three Jack in the Box franchises in Utah due to a lack of popularity among consumers. The Jack in the Box lost popularity as a result of a meat packaging scandal in the 1980s. The distrust between company and customer worsened after a food poisoning outbreak in the 1990s. 

As a loyal customer to Jack in the Box few locations in Utah can be frustrating, but also understandable when you know the whole story. Food poisoning and packaging mishaps damaged customers’ trust in the company, forcing many stores to shut down. Keep reading to learn more about the lack of Jack in Utah!

Why There Aren’t Many Jack in the Box Locations in Utah

In case you aren’t from the area, you’re new to Utah, or just aren’t old enough to remember some of the scandals of Jack in the Box, there are some pretty legitimate reasons they aren’t really found in the state.

Here is what you need to know:

Meat Scandal

Jack in the Box was founded in the 1950s in San Diego California. The company quickly gained popularity among consumers in the western United States. However, the company’s growth was severely stunted by a meat packaging discovery.

In 1981 a meat processing plant in California found that shipments mean for the Jack in the Box company contained horse meat.

The company spokesperson claimed that none of the mislabeled meat had actually made it to the franchises, but the Department of Agriculture spokesperson thought otherwise. Further analysis found that other Jack in the Box meat shipments contained kangaroo meat as well as horse meat.

While eating these types of meat is considered normal around the world, in the United States citizens prefer to eat more well-known meats such as beef, pork, and chicken. More so, customers felt deceived by the company and no longer wished to do business with them.

This “packaging” problem destroyed much of the trust between Utah consumers and forced the closure of several local locations.

Although the company claimed to have no knowledge of the mislabeling, many people believed that the company had knowingly purchased the horse and kangaroo meat due to its lower cost.

Although this event did not bankrupt all Utah Jack in the Box locations, a few short years later the company/customer relationship would be crippled by an outbreak of food poisoning.

Food Poisoning Breakout

After the horsemeat scandal, Jack in the Box began the process of earning back their customer’s trust. All was well until 1993 when hundreds of customers claimed to have gotten food poisoning from the fast-food chain.

In total, 623 individuals were diagnosed with e. coli and undercooked Jack in the Box burger patties were found to be the culprit. Unfortunately, four children died from the illness, shocking customers everywhere.

One Utah local claims that the food poisoning outbreak and the resulting deaths were what ruined Jack in the Box’s Utah reputation.

The food poisoning incident demolished the trust between Utah Jack in the Box customers and the company. Franchises began shutting their doors and customers sought out more trustworthy fast-food chains.

The Jack in the Box food poisoning outbreak has become a case study for food safety and services all around the world as well as inspiration for several books.

Author Jeff Benedict was especially troubled by the death of the four children in the Jack in the Box e. coli outbreak. It became the base for his book “Poisoned”. Watch a clip from a Utah news outlet hereOpens in a new tab. to learn more.

Want to learn more about Jeff Benedict and how the Jack in the Box incident influenced his book? Watch the video below!

This incident did not just damage the name of Jack in the Box. In fact, many Utahns became skeptical of businesses similar to Jack in the Box, such as Hardees and Carl Jrs. To this day, those three companies have struggled to make it big in the Beehive State.

Utah Locations

Although at one point in time the entire state was void of any Jumbo Jack burgers, the company has started to find its way back into Utah.

Today there are only three Jack in the Box locations throughout the states nearly 85,000 square miles. If you have hankering for a munchie meal while in Utah, you may have to travel several hours to get one in the state.

The three locations in Utah are in:

  • Cedar City
  • Saint George
  • Washington

All three locations are in southern Utah located within 45 minutes of each other. As for the northern half of the state, Jack in the Box fanatics will have to travel to Nevada or Idaho for their fix.

Although the company lost most of its local favor in the 1980s and 1990s, the next generation of Utahns seems to have forgotten the stories and is ready for the Jack in the box food chain to return to the state.

Petitions to bring the fast-food franchise have started in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Orem. Other petitions have a more general call requesting the company open up shop in the Salt Lake City Area or Northern Utah.

As of Mid March 2021, the petitions have received relatively low interactions. View the petitions by clicking the links in the table below!

Among some petition signers, rumor has begun to spread that a Jack in the Box Provo location is in the works, but no official statement has been released.

Petition LocationSignatures
OdgenOpens in a new tab.373
Salt Lake CityOpens in a new tab.5,512
OremOpens in a new tab.14
Northern UtahOpens in a new tab.454
Salt Lake City Area (Facebook Page)Opens in a new tab.305 (likes)
ProvoOpens in a new tab.682
All of UtahOpens in a new tab.20

Just because the younger Utah generation is ready for Jack in the Box to return, the majority of Utah’s 3 million citizens still share some distrust for the company and its safe, honest delivery of food.

As delicious as the Jack in the Box food may be, most Utahns still believe the state is doing just fine without the food chain doing business there. And they would like it to stay that way.

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