Food & Drink

Fast Food Review: Jack in the Box Blazin’ Chicken With Ghost Pepper Ranch


The real one looks flatter

The ghost pepper, or bhut jolokia was, until 2012, the hottest pepper in the world. This is no mere mouth-scorcher, but a foodstuff so searing that the Indian government weaponized it into gas grenades. It makes humble the habanero, and drinking hot sauce made with it would likely be akin to shooting anti-attacker pepper spray down your gullet. And Jack in the Box are freakin’ nuts if they really do have it as an ingredient. This could conceivably make somebody’s throat swell till they choke if it has actual ghost peppers inside.

I had to know for sure.

The only time I’ve consumed ghost pepper before was in a salsa given to me as a gift – I put a couple spoonfuls into a pot filled with a week’s supply of chili, and it treated things right. Only my friend Bill would eat the salsa straight up, and he’s the kind of guy who goes to Thai restaurants and dumps every marinated chili in the jar onto his food without breaking a sweat in the eating. His tongue is either dead or his insides will be.

I got this sandwich at a drive-through, and it had cooled down (physically) a lot, which was good – sometimes the one-two punch of physical heat and spicy heart just kicks my ass, and I wanted to focus on the one rather than t’other. Unwrapping the dinner-to-be, I put a quick dab of the ghost pepper ranch on my tongue. It gave off a warm burn, a bit like rubbing in Ben-Gay. Ranch is a bit of a cheat to begin with – dairy products already take the age of capsaicin.

The first thing you notice when you bite into the sandwich is the lettuce and tomato. There is a lot of both, and it adds a splash of water to your mouth that feels like heat preparation, or that shower you have to walk under first at the public pool. When you get them out of the way, jalapenos and sauce have the meat covered – there are allegedly onions and cheese too, but I did not notice them. Maybe the peppers drowned ’em out, maybe the new guys on duty messed up – I dunno.

Now, just so you know my threshold – I can handle Mexican spicy, but not Korean spicy. I’m mixed on Indian spicy, but Thai spicy has laid me out sick before. Too many jalapenos in a fast food burrito will kill its appeal for me, but on a burger or pizza they may be perfect. This had the perfect amount of jalapenos. Did I taste ghost peppers, though?

Maybe. Again, there was a burn a bit like that of Ben-Gay, and a slightly burny flavor, but I made it through the entire thing without needing a drink. The taste that dominated the Blazin’ Chicken the most? Bread. The crumbly sesame seed bun overwhelmed its interior instead of providing sweet, sweet relief between bits o’ flame.

The next night, though, it felt like in fact I had eaten the whole tube of Ben-Gay, and it was slowly making its way down…too slowly. The ghost peppers, taste-wise, proved too ghostly…only later revealing supernatural powers as Weapons of Ass Destruction.

Suggested motto for this sandwich: “None of the flavor, twice the crap.”