Chipotle Says You Can Order 65,000 Menu Combinations - We Put That Claim To The Test
While their menu has remained relatively unchanged for years — Chipotle claims that it prides itself on the simplicity of its offerings — you could feasibly go to Chipotle for decades and never order an identical menu choice.
Here's what they say as part of their promotional materials from a few years ago:
A Few Things, Thousands of Ways. We serve only a few things: burritos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla), tacos and salads. But because customers can choose from four different meats, two types of beans and a variety of extras such as salsas, guacamole, cheese and lettuce, there’s enough variety to extend our menu to provide more than 65,000 choices.
Their menu has stayed the same and the number persists.
So let's find out all the combinations of stuff you can get at Chipotle.
First, let's look at all your potential ingredients:
- ITEM: Burrito, Burrito Bowl, Crispy Taco, Soft Taco, Salad (5)
- RICE: Yes or No (2)
- BEANS: Black, Pinto, None (3)
- FILLING: Carnitas, Barbacoa, Chicken, Steak, None* (5)
- GUACAMOLE: Yes or No (2)
- SALSA: Corn, Mild, Medium, Hot, None (5)
- CHEESE: Yes or No (2)
- ROMAINE: Yes or No (2)
- SOUR CREAM: Yes or No (2)
- VEGGIE: Yes or No (2)
*Yes, you can get none of these, it's the veggie option.
So, if we multiply all of those numbers, we find out the total number of combinations available at Chipotle, which comes to 24,000 possibilities.
That's pretty far short of the touted 65,000 possibilities.
But wait, there's more.
Let's deconstruct the salsa.
Technically, you can get each and every type of salsa — or any combination thereof — of the four type of salsas on the item.
These are the salsa combinations:
- 1 way to put all four salsas on an item
- 4 ways to put three salsas on an item
- 6 ways to put two salsas on an item
- 4 ways to put one salsa on an item
- 1 way to put zero salsa on an item
So that means that there aren't five ways to put salsa on an item, there are actually sixteen!
When we factor this into the analysis we learn that there are in fact 76,800 ways to order at Chipotle!
So depending on how you interpret the salsa item, Chipotle is either overstating the number of options or grossly underselling itself by 11,800 combinations.
By the way, if we go with the latter option — 76,800 ways to order — adding brown rice recently means that there are, in fact, over 115,200 combinations.
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