‘Jackburger’ season arrives: Jumpin’ Jack’s opens in Scotia

Drive-in has language of its own
A lunchtime crowd gathers at Jumpin' Jack's in Scotia Thursday.
A lunchtime crowd gathers at Jumpin' Jack's in Scotia Thursday.

SCOTIA — Connie and Mark met Jack for lunch Thursday afternoon.

The Scotia couple hadn’t seen their favorite in months. But the visit didn’t last long — Jack was gone in minutes.

“It’s nice and big, it’s juicy,” said Connie Wysin, 65, picking up a Jackburger at Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-in restaurant in Scotia. “It’s seasoned just right.”

Mark Wysin, 68, agreed.

“That’s a true statement,” he said. “You can’t have too many of them … but you can only have one a week. These are great, it’s the coleslaw that does it.”

Hundreds of Jackburgers were served Thursday, as the celebrated drive-in conducted its traditional late-March opening. Several dozen men and women were in line when grill men began frying hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages at 11 a.m. The restaurant remained busy most of the day.

Fryers bubbled with hot oil and cooked clam strips, pieces of cod fish, chicken tenders, french fries, onion rings and large, pie-shaped pieces of dough. Patrons say spring begins when the crew from Jumpin’ Jack’s — with their own glossary of menu items — fill red plastic trays with summer-style food.

Mark Lansing Jr., Jack’s general manager, said the Jackburger is the top seller at the business. He believes the burger started with Jack Brennan, who started the restaurant in 1952. Mark Lansing Sr. bought the business during the mid-1970s.

“He traveled up and down the East Coast and the Southeast, taking notes from all the different restaurants he visited on the things he liked and things he didn’t like, then came back and built this place on all those,” Lansing Jr. said.

Brennan was inspired to create a stacked sandwich and used a triple-decker sesame seed roll.

“It’s a cheeseburger, piece of roll and a hamburger on top because the hamburger holds the coleslaw nice,” Lansing said.

Hamburger gourmets may remember at one time, stacked hamburgers were considered signature sandwiches at many fast-food stops. Carrols had the Club Burger, McDonalds’ entry was the Big Mac. The Red Barn chain sold the Big Barney; Smashburger currently offers a giant-size sandwich; Big Boy restaurants were known for double-decker hamburgers.

“It’s probably our answer to something like that, from way back,” Lansing said. Jackburgers sell for $6.75.

The rest of Jumpin’ Jack’s top five are:

* Clam strips: “We can’t keep them in the place, they go out of here like crazy,” Lansing said. “Fried clam strips, we cook them light and they’re really good, tasty. We’ve had them on the menu from the beginning. They’re served in a hot dog roll.”

* Fish fry: “Same thing, served in a hot dog roll. Breaded multiple times daily,” Lansing said. “I think it’s a little less popular than it used to be, maybe we’ve just added more things to the menu over the two-plus decades I’ve been here. The fish fry is a quarter-pound pre-cooked and the fish dinner is a half-pound pre-cooked.”

* Chicken tenders: “They’re seasoned well, we don’t buy the ones with the filler in them,” Lansing said. “Those are served in a hot dog role. I prefer them with cocktail sauce, but that’s just me.”

* Fried dough: “We added it to the menu probably seven years ago,” Lansing said. “At the start it didn’t take off, it took a little while for us to figure out the right product to throw over the counter, but once we did, it’s one of those things where we order the fried dough and somebody else in line hears we’ve got it or they see it come up on the counter and then they order one, and you bring that up and someone else see it and orders one and it just snowballs.”

Junpin’ Jack’s will serve its full menu – which includes sausage and peppers, veggie burgers, shrimp fries, steak sandwiches and a selection of ice cream cones, dishes and milk shakes – from now until the day before Labor Day. Hours now are 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.; around Memorial Day, the restaurant will remain open until 10 p.m.

Jumpin’ Jack’s Lingo

SCOTIA — If you visit Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-in during the spring and summer months, you will hear some unusual lingo. Here’s how to be cool — and order in a way JJ’s personnel will understand.

7 — Called out as the first number, it represents chicken

745 — Chicken dinner

701 — Fried chicken sandwich

Balantine — A triple order of onion rings, called after the Balantine beer symbol of three interlocking rings.

Indian — Onion rings, so called after the French and Indian War. Fries were once called “French” and onion rings became “Indian.”

Jackburger — Jumpin’ Jack’s signature burger, it’s a two-patty double-decker with cheese on the bottom and creamy coleslaw on top. 

Loaded — A steak sandwich with sauce and onions

Subway — A customer put money in the tip jar. Jumpin’ Jack’s lore says the “Subway!” exchange may date to a deli in New York City. If someone left a tip at the deli, the guy would thank his benefactor by yelling “Subway!” and tell him he now had money to ride public transportation home. 

Twister fries — Curly fries

Whale fry — Fish fry

Whistle fry — Shrimp fry

Did we miss something? Tell us your favorite Jumpin’ Jack’s slang!

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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