- Hollis Johnson
But, there’s still one way that the chain could salvage the cheesy dip’s roll out.
Earlier in September, Chipotle began serving queso at every location across the US.
The backlash was swift.
“Very disappointed in the Queso,” reads one of the many negative comments on Chipotle’s Facebook page. “I have not met one person who liked it.”
I thought people were overreacting about Chipotle queso being bad but I just tried it and it’s some straight up dumpster juice
— Colin (@IntroSpecktive) September 24, 2017
Me after trying chipotle's DISAPPOINTING queso pic.twitter.com/MI35bFqFtj
— Zoë Aarts (@ZoeAarts) September 19, 2017
Chipotle's queso is worse than their E. coli
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) September 20, 2017
Data supports the social media backlash. BMO Capital Markets reported that just 15% of orders in New York City included queso – less than half of the 40% that includes guacamole. And, Cowen found that queso-related traffic has died off after peaking the first week.
Most people’s biggest problem with Chipotle’s queso is the texture, according to a company spokesperson. While that’s a pretty big problem, it also highlights an opportunity for Chipotle to use queso to grow sales.
A survey by financial services firm Mizuho found that most people who were ordering queso weren’t ordering it for the typical use – as a dip with chips. In fact, only 3% of customers were buying queso and chips.
Instead, 61% of customers were ordering the queso on their meal – a cheesy add on to their burrito or burrito bowl.
The textural shortcomings of Chipotle queso are disturbingly obvious when eaten as a dip. On the other hand, as a warm cheese topping, you can enjoy the flavor, which is actually quite good – smokey, with a pleasant burn. In fact, in Business Insider’s original review of the queso, we recommended it as a replacement for Chipotle’s lackluster cheese in your burrito, not a dip.
Mizuho estimates that the ingredients for a $1.40 queso meal addition cost Chipotle just 19 cents. For comparison, guacamole costs Chipotle roughly 75 cents to make (in a period of high avocado prices), and $2.45 for customers to order.
Before the launch, Chipotle executives painted queso as the silver bullet that would spark a major sales turnaround for the chain, which has struggled over the last two years. At this point, that doesn’t look likely.
However, if customers keep adding queso to their burritos – which we highly recommend from a culinary standpoint – the new menu item could end up boosting sales after all.