The best way to hack a system is almost always to exploit its human weakness. Case in point: This “master” Chipotle hack from Apartment List intern Dylan Grosz centers not on knowing any complicated secret menu, but simply on the notion that human beings don’t have a robot-like efficiency to scoop things evenly. So in order to nearly double the size of a Chipotle burrito bowl (which is already 15 percent larger than a traditional burrito) simply request the haggard employee scooping ingredients go half-and-half on everything. While that request should theoretically result in an identical sized bowl that’s just made up of smaller portions of more ingredients, human error means those additional varieties of rice, beans, and meat are actually adding significant volume to your meal.
It’s a trick that Grosz proved with science, at least as much as a test with dozens of variables can be proven. He visited a Chipotle every day for about two weeks, ordering five burritos each visit. He would then meticulously separate and weigh all of the ingredients to get a sense of which methods were adding more to his meal.
Grosz compared a “control” burrito bowl of white rice, black beans, chicken, mild salsa, and cheese to his half-and-half style. He found that when asking for both white and brown rice, black and pinto beans, and two kinds of meat, he got 50 percent more of the latter and twice as much rice and beans. Grosz also suggests requesting the grilled fajita veggies and corn salsa, which are free options that aren’t always pushed by Chipotle employees. Plus he recommends asking for two tortillas on the side, which is the equivalent of asking to double wrap a burrito. (His tip for getting this for free: “Ask for the tortillas at the end, when the staff just wants you to go away.”) Those who crave the real burrito experience can always wrap their burrito bowl ingredients themselves.
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Using all these tricks, Grosz managed to increase his meal from the 17-ounce control weight up to 31.6 ounces (a.k.a. 2 pounds), giving him a substantial increase in food and likely a substantial bout of intestinal distress after eating it all.
In the end, Grosz’s implicit point about human fallibility can be seen as the impetus for this whole experiment. The reason he got to conduct (and write off the cost of) this study is because his boss didn’t know what to do with him:
Overall, I worked quite a few hours to gather all this data and consequently received funny looks from coworkers. It was then that it hit me how strange it was to be separating burritos at an apartment marketplace company. I have this irking feeling that my boss just didn’t know what to do with me and let me pursue my passion, but that would never happen to an intern. Though, with these astonishing results and all those dirty looks, I’d say it was totally worth it.
Check out Grosz’s full article over at Apartment List.