Chipotle is getting on the Ugly Christmas Sweater train, and maybe trying to salvage a troubled new product in the bargain. Customers who wear their “cheesiest sweater” and order an entree at a Chipotle on Tuesday, Dec.12, will get a free serving of the chain’s queso.
It’s hard to argue with free, but Chipotle’s offer also has an unavoidable whiff of desperation. When Chipotle’s queso was first rolled out this September, responses ranged from disappointment to outright disgust. Because Chipotle avoids the processed additives that are crucial to most queso’s smooth, jelly-like consistency, the chain’s version has been described as gloopy, gritty, and overflavored.
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The queso reaction didn’t help Chipotle recover from the years-long fallout from a 2015 E. Coli outbreak, which has hammered sales and the company’s stock. Company leadership has urged staff to ignore the hate, while arguing that social media criticism was just short-lived bandwagon-jumping. They seem to hope they’ll find fresh converts with next week’s offer, and maybe even silence the naysayers.
Chipotle does say it has revamped its queso recipe since the initial rollout, so they’re not entirely grasping at straws, but the cheery deal is already showing some dark overtones. The chain’s Twitter announcement attracted fresh negativity towards the queso, while Chipotle’s social media team patiently invited the naysayers to give the new recipe a try.