Jack in the Box

May be a black-and-white image

contributed by Peter T Yeschenko

DID YOU KNOW….that the Jack in the Box fast food restaurant was founded by a Sailor?!

The very first Jack in the Box opened in 1951 by a businessman and former Sailor Lt. Robert O. Peterson on El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego…..

Hamburgers were 18 cents.

Robert was the founder of the Jack in the Box restaurant chain, he popularized the drive through fast food restaurant concept and was credited with being the first to pair the drive-through window with an intercom system.

Robert was a native of San Diego and attended San Diego State College and graduated from UCLA with a degree in economics.

He was a Lieutenant in the Navy Intelligence during World War II.

He was married four times, notably in 1977 to Maureen O’Connor, who went on to become the first female mayor of San Diego from 1985 to 1992.

Robert entered the restaurant business in 1941 with a drive-in diner called “Topsy’s”, later renamed “Oscar’s”, located on El Cajon Blvd., in San Diego.

This was a classic drive-in where food was served by carhops to customers in the parking lot.

Over the next decade his company, the San Diego Commissary Company, operated several Topsy’s and Oscar’s restaurants throughout San Diego, including a flagship Oscar’s at Midway Drive and Rosecrans Street near the Navy Recruit Training Command.

In 1951, he converted the Oscar’s on El Cajon Blvd. into the first Jack in the Box, a drive-through with the innovation of a two-way intercom that allowed one car to place an order while another car was being served.

Other restaurants had previously offered drive-up window service, but Jack in the Box was the first major chain to make drive-through windows the focus of its operation.

Since the concept was unfamiliar to most customers, the speaker, topped with the trademark clown had a sign that announced “Pull forward, Jack will speak to you!”

In 1984, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He battled the disease for 10 years until his death in 1994 at the age of 78. His wife Maureen was by his side.


One thought on “Jack in the Box

  1. Dave says:

    Remember this great burger place in Norfolk, Va area in the 70/80s. Was best place to go at night after an evening of partying before heading back to the base/ ship for the night.


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