Screenshot: Instagram, @jackinthebox

They’re greasy, revolting, and alarmingly unhealthy, not to mention unpleasant to look at. But America just can’t get enough of the cheap, addictive tacos being peddled by Jack In The Box. Writer Russell Adams attempts to explain the mysterious appeal of these deep-fried delicacies in a potentially stomach-churning piece for The Wall Street Journal. Ostensibly a burger joint, Jack In The Box has had tacos on its menu since the 1950s, and now the California-based fast food chain sells 554 million of these things every year. Those are Big Mac-level numbers.

But what makes them so popular? After all, as Adams points out, these tacos have been compared to cat food on Twitter. It could be the fact that Jack In The Box, in complete disregard for taco tradition, uses American cheese in its recipe. Or it could be that the shells are dunked in the deep fryer for extra crispiness. Whatever the reason, even die-hard fans have trouble explaining their devotion. The Jack In The Box addicts interviewed for this article seem to have a love-hate relationship with the tacos. A typical quote: “You can’t look at it too long before you eat it.”

Nevertheless, despite empirical evidence that Jack In The Box tacos are an abomination in the eyes of God, they’ve managed to attract a large and loyal cult following, whose ranks include such celebrities as Selena Gomez, Chelsea Handler, and Chrissy Teigen, all of whom declined to comment. And, naturally, the tacos’ success has inspired copycats and wannabes. While genuine Jack In The Box tacos are still two for $0.99, a West Hollywood restaurant called The Nice Guy offers its own interpretation at six bucks a pop. Jack In The Box doesn’t seem worried. “We are always imitated but never duplicated,” crows a spokesperson for the chain.

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