But only in the OC

By Tim Nelson
Updated August 10, 2018
Credit: Courtesy of Chipotle

It’s been a rough few years for Chipotle. Once regarded as the gold standard of Mexican fast-ish food, the chain has fallen on hard times in the face of increased competition and a spate of health scares ranging from E.Coli in 2015 to a mystery illness currently sweeping across Ohio. Now, they’re trying to figure out if adding a pretty universally loved food item to the menu can help bring in new customers.

As part of its ongoing turnaround effort, Chipotle will test applewood smoked bacon on its menu this fall. Starting in September, a select few Chipotles in Orange County, California will have access to everyone’s favorite breakfast meat as an add-on to complement Chipotle’s classic array of burritos and bowls.

The move comes after a successful period experimentation in the company’s New York City test kitchen, where the company discovered that a little extra bacon really does make everything better. "We found consumers added bacon to their traditional bowls, burritos, tacos and nachos while also enjoying new items such as the BLT quesadilla with bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese grilled to perfection," said chief marketing officer Chris Brandt in a statement.

Bacon is far from the only tweak to Chipotle’s menu to roll out in the coming months. Beginning in October, Chipotle locations around Denver and the Twin Cities will feature a make-your-own nachos option. Meanwhile, people in Miami and Dallas can try out $2 tacos with the purchase of any drink after 8 p.m. in a bid to attract more late-night traffic.

If that all seems like a case of Chipotle throwing a lot out there to see what sticks, that’s because it probably is. The company installed a new CEO back in March (who just so happened to be the former head honcho at Taco Bell), and they’ve experienced something of a sales slump. It looks like the plan is to entice eaters with new offerings, and hope that they can walk out without getting sick.

Given that these are still tests, it’s oto early to tell if the introduction of bacon will be enough to change Chipotle’s fortunes. But if internet culture circa 2010 can tell us anything about how to fix a flailing restaurant chain, it’s that bacon is the answer to everything.