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In a move that has drawn praise from nutrition advocates, Jack in the Box has stopped offering toys with meals aimed at children, a leading restaurant industry publication said this week.
Nation's Restaurant News reports that the nation's fifth-largest hamburger chain has posted signs in its restaurants letting parents know that trinkets will no longer be included in kids' meals.
In a news release, Jack in the Box also said it has added a new food choice for kids: apple bits with caramel that clock in at 70 calories per serving -- fewer than the apple dippers served at McDonald's.
Tracy Dunn, director of marketing and promotions for the chain, said the apple side dish was just one healthful option for kids on its menu.
“Jack in the Box offers a lot of variety with our Kid's Combos, from grilled or crispy chicken strips, a grilled cheese sandwich and hamburger to low-fat milk, juice and fountain beverages,” Dunn said.
Nutrition advocates nationwide are pressuring fast food companies to stop giving out toys to children, saying the practice makes it too tempting for kids to want to eat fast food and contributes to the epidemic of childhood obesity.
California's San Francisco and Santa Clara counties have enacted so-called Happy Meal bans, which prohibit restaurants from offering toys to children with meals that are high in calories, sugar, salt and fat.
Nick Guroff, spokesman for Corporate Accountability International, which supports the toy bans and has repeatedly urged McDonald's to stop marketing to children, said his organization was pleased that Jack in the Box has stopped providing toys.
"It's certainly a sign McDonald's competitors see a market opportunity in differentiating from the industry leader and that campaigning by health advocates is changing the marketing landscape for the industry at large," Guroff said.
Jesi Puckett · Menifee, California I personally think it's the parents fault for the kids wanting fast food...not the restaurant chains. But I have to say now, why would I bother getting a kids meal that I pay the same price as I did before without the added benefit of a toy. I only see parents ordering things from the value menus now which are probably bigger than the kids meal and their kids will eat unhealthy regardless.
Debi Cates How about adding a whole, unadulterated apple to the meal? Offering apple slices preserved in God-only-knows-what with a tub of too sweet goop made with ingredients no one can pronounce is nothing for Jack in the Box to be praised for. Not a step forward. A side step at best.