The sun sets amid thunderstorms outside Newark, N.J.
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 6/21/2011 4:33:33 PM ET 2011-06-21T20:33:33

Jack in the Box, the nation's fifth-largest hamburger chain, is dropping toys to promote its meals aimed at kids and working on adding healthier menu options to its offerings for children.

A spokesman for the fast-food chain told Nation's Restaurant News: "Parents were generally not choosing Jack in the Box as a dining destination because of a toy."

Instead, the restaurant has focused its efforts on offering more nutritional options like a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough, grilled or crispy chicken strips or a hamburger, Jack in the Box spokesman Brian Luscomb said.

Despite activist groups voicing opposition to restaurants using toys to market meals that contribute to child obesity, Jack in the Box said they did not make the decision based on outside pressure.

Regardless, nutrition activists are considering Jack in the Box's move a victory.

"We definitely see this as a sign that the public climate is shifting," said Sara Deon, Value the Meal campaign director for Corporate Accountability International. "We definitely think that Jack in the Box, in taking this step, really illustrates the direction in which the rest of the industry needs to go, in order to satisfy what the public wants."

She said by taking this step, Jack in the Box has differentiated itself from industry leader McDonald's and "their blatantly predatory marketing techniques."

McDonald's did not respond to requests for an interview.

Jack in the Box has about 2,200 restaurants across the United States.

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