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Loaded Chicken Nuggets ­ are topped with two kinds of cheese, ranch and bacon.Kennedy said it was time for Jack in the Box to “up the ante” on late night because “others were coming into the marketplace and taking our lunch money.”

Taco Bell has long promoted its Fourth Meal offerings, and Wendy’s advertises its late hours at the pickup window. McDonald’s has recently been experimenting with a McDonald’s After Midnight menu of breakfast and dinner items in select markets with 24-hour locations.

For Jack in the Box’s July 7-ended third quarter, late night represented about 16.4 percent of the daypart mix, more than snack, which accounted for 10.3 percent of the mix. However, the late-night daypart was behind dinner, which was 28.1 percent of the mix; lunch, at 23 percent; and breakfast, at 22.2 percent.

The late-night menu was tested at 140 restaurants in the San Francisco and San Jose markets last year for about six months. Kennedy said the company was very pleased with the results.

The Exploding Cheesy Chicken Sandwich ­has mozzarella cheese sticks and gooey white cheese sauce.The late-night menu rolled out in a soft launch systemwide on Sept. 12, with menu board extenders added to promote the menu items. During the day, the extenders show teasers for the late-night menu with messages such as, “The party starts at 9 p.m.”

At the designated hour, employees rotate menu board panels to show the Munchie Meal lineup.

For the first three months or so, staff will wear the late-night uniforms all day to promote the initiative. Later, they will be reserved for staffers working that shift, Kennedy said.

Since late-night guests might be inclined to get up and dance or become rowdy, Kennedy said the company is also offering staffers training to help them manage a livelier scene.

Television ads for the new late-night offerings are scheduled to begin on Sept. 29. They feature Late Night Jack, a “more twisted” puppet version of the Jack character, who plays video games and shows a darker side. Officials say the puppet version of Jack will only appear in late-night ads and that the live Jack character is not going away.

A broader media campaign will launch on Sept. 30. Social media will also help spread the word as guests turn to Twitter, Instagram and other channels to document their late-night Jack in the Box adventures, Kennedy said.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout