There is a man who, through repeated experimentation, figured out how to get a bigger Chipotle burrito without paying more. Several of you have emailed me about how terrible he is, and ordinarily, I’d be all over that. Just one problem, though: absolutely nothing he suggests is terrible in any way.
Via the LA Times, a guy named Dylan Grosz with a disturbingly scientific mind and way too much time on his hands ordered 35 Chipotle burritos over the course of several days and then weighed each one back at his office. He also made sure to order from the same shift of workers in order to minimize variation (holy shit, was this guy committed), and used a control burrito* of white rice, black beans, chicken, mild salsa, and cheese. His findings are actually pretty simple: in order to maximize the size of one’s Chipotle burrito, you should order both rices, both beans, and half-and-half on meat. You should also order a bowl, with two tortillas (ask for an extra) on the side. All in all, he claims you can get 86% more burrito by ordering this way. Like I said, Grosz is (and perhaps should be) committed.
Here’s the thing about all of that: which part, exactly, makes life more difficult for the Chipotle employee? Which aspect of it could in any way be classified as a special order? Did I miss the part where he suggests asking them to only give you onions from the fajita veggies,** to only give you black beans of a certain diameter, or make sure you get only the wilted lettuce because you’re allergic to crunchy? Both rices, both beans, and half-and-half meat just means an extra scoop of each; you’re not doing anything particularly annoying by asking for any of them. Heating another tortilla takes extra time, but while that might slightly slow down the line, it’s not exactly a grave burden on the employee.
The crucial point here is that no part of this process appears to make the lives of average Chipotle employees more difficult. The extra ingredients would be irritating if you were ordering a burrito itself (since bigger burritos are unwieldy and more prone to tearing), but Grosz sidesteps that problem by suggesting a bowl. In so doing, not only are you getting more for your money, you’re outsourcing the work to yourself, and I can’t imagine Chipotle employees are going to be annoyed by someone essentially saying “hey, let me remove the most annoying step of your job so I can do it myself.” Near as I can tell, the only entity being taken advantage of here in any capacity is Chipotle itself, and frankly, fuck ‘em. They can afford it.
The fact that numerous people emailed me about this seems to be an indication that some of you consider the entire concept of special orders (or, in fact, doing anything remotely out of the ordinary at a food service establishment) wrong or unacceptable. But that is patently not universally the case, and this is the perfect example of an instance where there’s nothing wrong with it. No one is inventing a menu item from whole cloth, nor is anyone asking for something that will take up an onerous amount of the employee’s time and/or effort. This sure as hell isn’t even on the same level as the quesarito. Someone even said in their email “this is how ‘Awful Customers’ on BCO get started,” but that’s a baffling slippery slope argument that will inevitably result in the arguer decrying man-on-burrito sex.
If any Chipotle employees want to point out why I’m wrong and why this is totally terrible for them in some way I can’t fathom, feel free. I’m happy to listen, and I’m certainly not going to rule out some sort of evidence I haven’t considered. But in the meantime, the idea that this is in ANY way comparable to the Starbucks story is not based in objective reality. Unusual ordering practices are not inherently bad by virtue of being unusual; they have to actually make the employee’s life difficult (at a minimum) to qualify as a dick move. At a place like Chipotle, where the entire set-up not only begets but requires unique ordering habits, it’s hard to see how this qualifies.
* The fact that I got to type the words “control burrito” make me happier than I can express.
** In all fairness, I desperately wish this was an option (because fuck peppers), but I would never in a million years ask for it—and I hope they’d say no if anyone actually did.
Image via Chipotle/Facebook.
Contact the author at WilyUbertrout@gmail.com.