TIME Food & Drink

11 Facts About Chipotle That Defy All Odds

Chipotle has more than 1,700 locations in America

You’ve probably dined at the $22 billion fast-casual chain before, but there’s plenty of things you don’t know about Chipotle. Here, a look at the calories, quirks and numbers that show how the beloved burrito brand has taken over.

  • Defying Starbucks

    Glen Martin—Denver Post/Getty Images Chipotle CEO Steve Ells visits a Chipotle in Denver, CO.

    In 1993, 27-year-old Steve Ells was doubting his ability to successfully launch a burrito stand called Chipotle. After all, Starbucks had passed on the Denver neighborhood the recent culinary school grad selected for his location. And if Starbucks didn’t think area residents were willing to buy $5 coffee, well, then they probably weren’t ready for equally expensive burritos and tacos.

    Adding to the pressure was the $80,000 loan he received from his father for the project. Ells told Denver-based paper Westword in 2004 that while his father was supportive, he didn’t fully understand why the culinary school grad thought a burrito joint was a good idea.

    But Ells proved him wrong in just a matter of days. On opening day — July 13, 1993, 6 p.m. MDT — the stand raked in $400, according to what Ells told Westword. The next day it was “a little bit more.” And as Chipotle took off, the burrito stand was set to make $1 million by the end of its first year. Soon enough, a Starbucks opened up a few blocks away.

  • There’s Hope for Liberal Arts Majors

    Before Steve Ells attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, he was just another undergraduate student at the University of Colorado. “I never took business classes in school. I studied art history, and I never really thought about the economics of a restaurant — only the food and the experience,” Ells said in a 2011 video interview on Chipotle’s YouTube channel.

    Studying art history doesn’t exactly have the best rep — even Obama made fun of the major during a speech in January 2014: “Folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree,” he said last year. But Ells, who during college channeled his interest in art into “culinary experiments” like extra-hot chili, is getting the last laugh: He was paid $28.9 million in 2014, according to a recent SEC filing, and since Obama’s annual income is set by law at $400,000, Ells earns about 72 times more money than Obama.

  • Looks Can Be Deceiving

    A Chipotle Restaurant Ahead Of Earnings Data
    Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images

    Can you guess how many calories are in your Chipotle burrito? The issue was so important that a team of PhD candidates conducted a scientific study on the matter, which was published last year in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

    The study showed that, on average, participants who did not look at the calorie ranges on Chipotle’s menu underestimated the calories in a burrito by 37%, which equates to a mean underestimation of 336 calories. Participants weren’t much better at blindly estimating the calories in burrito bowls, either — on average, they underestimated the calories by 24%, which equates to a mean underestimation of 214 calories.

  • The Truth About Calories

    Inside A Chipotle Restaurant Ahead of Earnings Figures
    Craig Warga—Bloomberg/Getty Images

    One reason people are so bad at estimating their Chipotle calories is that, well, a meal at the chain can be pretty caloric. Half of the meals people order at Chipotle contain over 1,070 calories, according to a New York Times analysis of GrubHub data in February 2015. The recommended daily calories for adult men and women range from 2,000 to 3,000 and 1,600 to 2,400, respectively, depending on age and activity level, according to the USDA.

    But how does that make sense, when, for example, the menu’s calorie range for burritos is about 400 to 900? Shouldn’t a normal burrito fall somewhere in the middle?

    Nope. Opting for a soft flour tortilla means your order starts off at 300 calories. Add on black beans and rice, and you’re up to 605. Pile on some steak, and you’ve hit 795. With cheese, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream, an average burrito can top out at around 1,245 calories.

  • A Burrito Record

    Think you scarf down your Chipotle burritos quickly? Competitive eater Matt Stonie is on record for eating a burrito in about 35 seconds. In the above video, he eats three more burritos, in addition to downing a Diet Coke, in just about three minutes. While no Guinness World Records officials appeared to be on hand, Stonie already has several world records under his belt, including eating 5 pounds of cake in 8 minutes and 59 seconds.


  • Chipotle’s Twitter Fail

    @Chipotle is a lot less popular on Twitter than you’d think: it has fewer than 600 followers on Twitter.

    But who said @Chipotle is actually the beloved burrito brand? @Chipotle actually belongs to a man named Chip Clark, who joined Twitter in March 2007 and registered the handle before Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) did. Here’s what Clark told TIME about the situation last week:

    Chipotle did contact me several years ago about the possibility of acquiring my Twitter handle. If memory serves it was via email. Given the fact that it violates Twitter’s [terms of service], they never offered to purchase it and I have never offered to sell it. I am often asked by third parties to buy the handle. I decline the offers and block their accounts. I probably get 40 to 50 @Chipotle notifications a day.

    Besides not being able to secure @Chipotle, Chipotle has had a few other issues with Twitter, including a highly publicized hack in February 2015.

  • We’re All Guilty

    A Chipotle Restaurant Ahead Of Earnings Data
    Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images

    You might be Chipotle’s most loyal fan, but that doesn’t mean you’re its most honest customer. Chances are you’ve asked for a free water cup and then filled it with soda.

    The good news is you’re not alone. There’s no scientific research on this issue, but one high school student decided to take a stab at it. The student’s study shockingly found that 46% of people asking for water cups filled them with soda.

    Take the results with a grain of salt, though. After all, the student’s report was entered in the American Statistical Association’s annual competition for different grade levels, failed to win and contained many assumptions. But still — that 46% is totally believable, right? After all, people have charged with a felony for filling free water cups with soda.


  • From Summer Job to Six-Figure Salary

    A Chipotle Restaurant Ahead Of Earnings Data
    Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images

    One reason Chipotle has become so successful, Quartz reported last year, is the way it treats its employees — especially entry-level crew members. The company’s “restauranteur program” outlines a path on which an hourly wage employee can become a general manager (GM) with a $100,000 salary. Once a GM is promoted to restauranteur, s/he receives a $10,000 bonus for each crew member promoted to GM, as an incentive to cultivate and retrain the company’s talent.

  • You’re Missing Out

    How a mega-popular fast food chain has a “secret menu” is still a mystery. According to HacktheMenu.com, there are eight items on Chipotle’s secret menu, which range from hybrid creations like the “Quesarito” and “Burritodilla,” to basic orders of fresh cilantro and a single taco.

    And apparently it’s no joke, either. A Business Insider reporter popped into a random Chipotle store last year and ordered a Quesarito with no problems. “You’re never going to go back to a burrito. It’s like crack,” said one Chipotle worker, who, like all other staff, are reportedly trained to make these orders.

  • Another Reason to Desire Fame

    Every now and then a celebrity sets off a digital firestorm by revealing they are in possession of something very valuable: the almost mythical free-burritos-for-life card.

    These secret burrito club cards give the holders one free burrito per day for the rest of their life. If a card holder went every day, it would amount to around $3,600 worth of free burritos per year.

    Several celebrities, including many athletes, are reportedly in possession of these cards, which function as a viral marketing tool for Chipotle. Bryce Harper, TJ Warren, Russell Wilson, Abby Wambach, Tony Hawk and Drew Gooden have all proudly showed off their cards on social media.

    Update: Chipotle communications director Chris Arnold reached out to TIME and said that celebrity card holders get free burritos for one year, not for life.

  • Chipotle’s Secret Stores

    Can’t get enough Chipotle? Well, Chipotle can’t either — apparently the $22 billion burrito joint doesn’t satisfy the company’s hunger for more business. So in 2011, Chipotle entered a secret partnership — unveiled only last year — with a Denver-based pizza chain to launch a new fast-casual restaurant.

    Pizzeria Locale has two locations in Colorado — with plans to open another shop in Kansas City, Mo., later this year. It’s already killing it on Yelp, where it has a four-star average.

    Chipotle also has 10 Southeast Asian-style joints called ShopHouse in the Los Angeles, Calif., and Washington, D.C., areas.

    Read next: 5 Fast Food Restaurant Meals That Are Healthier Than a Salad

    Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Crime

Woman Stabs Boyfriend For Eating Her Salsa

Getty Images Tomato salsa, close-up

Too far, too far

Snack lovers will agree, there is no offense greater than eating all of somebody else’s salsa.

Unless, of course, you stab said salsa stealer as a form of retribution. Not only is that a greater offense, but it is an actual crime.

Ohio resident Phyllis Jefferson, 50, reportedly stabbed her 61-year-old boyfriend Ronnie Buckner in the groin with a pen Sunday after she found out he finished her salsa. She then grabbed a knife and stabbed him in the left side of his stomach, according to police reports cited by Cleveland.com.

Buckner was taken to a hospital for his injuries. And although Jefferson fled the scene, police apprehended her later that night. According to police reports, Jefferson admitted to the stabbing, and is currently charged with felonious assault.




Russell Crowe Says Michael Jackson Used to Play Weird Pranks on Him

"The Water Diviner" World Premier - Arrivals
Don Arnold—WireImage Russell Crowe arrives at the World Premier of "The Water Diviner"

Is your refrigerator running?

Russell Crowe — a man who once threw a phone at a hotel concierge for showing too much “attitude” — is not a person most people would want to prank.

But according to a story Crowe told the The Guardian, there was one man who dared to play practical jokes on the gruff Australian star: Michael Jackson.

“For two or three f—ing years,” Crowe said. “I never met him, never shook his hand, but he found out the name I stayed in hotels under, so it didn’t matter where I was, he’d ring up do this kind of thing, like you did when you were 10, you know. ‘Is Mr Wall there? Is Mrs Wall there? Are there any Walls there? Then what’s holding the roof up? Ha ha.’ You’re supposed to grow out of doing that, right?”

Of course the story can’t be confirmed by Jackson, but the image of the pop icon prank calling Crowe is so perfect, we certainly hope it’s true.


TIME society

Cards Against Humanity Introduces Science-Themed Cards to Fund College Scholarships for Women

Students play Cards Against Humanity in Denver, Colorado in 2012.
Brian Cahn—Zuma Press/Corbis Students play Cards Against Humanity in Denver, Colorado in 2012.

The scholarships will be funded by sales of the game's new expansion pack

Playing Cards Against Humanity can result in one laugh-out-loud joke after another, but a new college scholarship sponsored by the game’s creators is no joke.

The company says proceeds from sales of its new science-themed expansion pack will go toward its new Science Ambassador Scholarship, which will offer a full ride for women who want to pursue undergraduate degrees in science and are starting college in the fall of 2016.

Applications will be reviewed by more than forty judges who have worked at NASA, Harvard Medical School and the National Science Foundation, among other prestigious institutions. The program will also be run in partnership with Zach Weinersmith of the web comic “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal” and astronomer Phil Plait of the Bad Astronomy book and blog series.

Game co-creator Josh Dillon, who is getting a PhD in astrophysics at MIT, said in a statement: “Women are underrepresented in science, tech, engineering, and math, and we felt like the funding from this pack could have the greatest impact by making it possible for more women to get an education in those fields.”

Needless to say, while the game is a way to make science more fun, women studying for finals in these courses should not mistake these cards for flash cards.


TIME viral

Gonzo From The Muppets Is Really Good at The Humpty Dance

Digital Underground's tune never sounded better

The Muppets’ The Great Gonzo, who is known for his trademark swagger and unearned bravado, is the perfect choice to perform Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance” in a new video that’s going viral. While the original video definitely didn’t include chickens on backup vocals or Rowlf the dog playing piano, this mashup makes you wonder if maybe it should have.

In the clip, Gonzo steps in for emcee Shock G to cover the hip-hop classic from the West Coast rappers. The widely sampled song, which was technically performed by Shock G’s alter ego Humpty Hump, came out in 1989 and climbed the Billboard charts thanks to its ridiculously catchy beats and swaggering, laughable rhymes.

The mashup comes courtesy of YouTube’s Mylo the Cat, who has earned a reputation by making viral videos that mix the Muppets with music hits like Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend” and The Beastie Boys’ “So What’cha Want.”

TIME Television

Watch Helen Mirren Accept a Fake Award After Inhaling Helium

Helen Mirren deserves all the awards

Dame Helen Mirren may not have known what she was getting into when she stopped by The Tonight Show, but that didn’t stop her from participating when Jimmy Fallon handed her a helium balloon and asked her to inhale.

The 69-year-old Woman in Gold star told Fallon she hadn’t sucked on a helium balloon since she was 12 years old, but she quickly got the hang of it. The Academy Award-winning actress then asked Fallon to give her a prize so she could make an acceptance speech.

The actress is a true professional, and even when she started to get light-headed, she continued to play, struggling to rush oxygen to her brain before proudly answering Fallon’s question by loudly declaring, “Spotted dick!”


TIME viral

Watch a Florida Hotel Wake Up Spring Breakers with ‘Circle of Life’

A lively wake up call

“Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba. Sithi uhm ingonyama.”

Those, in case you were wondering, are the actual lyrics to “Circle of Life,” from The Lion King. And for the residents of the Panama City Beach Holiday Inn in Florida, they know that now. At this point, how could they not?

You see, this particular Holiday Inn has been playing “Circle of Life” every day at 11 a.m. during spring break, as a sort of wake-up call for the hundreds of vacationing students staying there.

It’s unclear whether the hotel means to use the soundtrack as a punishment or a celebration. We guess that depends on exactly what you’re trying to sleep off.

But employees told Los Angeles Fox affiliate KTTV that they have “hundreds of people” calling each year to ensure that the tradition hasn’t gone away, and the station spoke to at least one guest, Jessica Young, who described the daily ritual as “the best thing ever.”

“Every morning when we wake up we look forward to it,” Young continued, presumably without irony. “It’s like an entire Panama City Beach Holiday Inn family just singing together.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

Read next: New Google Doodle Honors Opening of Eiffel Tower

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TIME animals

Science Has Found Out What Music Your Cat Should Be Chilling to While Being Neutered

Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, AC/DC is not it

During surgical operations, cats aren’t huge fans of adult contemporary ballads or fist-pumping rocks anthems. In fact, research has found that felines much prefer the lush sound of classical music when going under the knife.

In an experiment detailed this week in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon studied how 12 female pet cats responded to different genres of music, while undergoing neutering.

To gauge the animals’ responses, the clinicians recorded their respiratory rates and pupil diameters, which are an indication of their depth of anesthesia.

During the experiment, the cats were fitted with headphones and then exposed to two minutes of silence — as a control — before listening to portions of Barber’s “Adagio for Strings (Opus 11),” Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”

“The results showed that the cats were in a more relaxed state (as determined by their lower values for respiratory rate and pupil diameter) under the influence of classical music, with the pop music producing intermediate values,” reports Science Daily.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, listening to AC/DC while being spayed induced “a more stressful situation.”

[Science Daily]

TIME portfolio

This Clown Takes You Behind the Scenes at the World’s Best Circuses

Lukas Berger discovers that the best way to photograph the circus is to join it

“Once the curtain opens, the show begins. The audience laughs, is amazed, some are beginning to cry. The emotions are noticeable. They are triggered by the gestures and movements of a man with a red nose, baggy trousers and a unique clumsiness.”

In 2010, while working for the Austrian civil service in Pakistan, Lukas Berger stumbled upon the traveling Lucky Irani Circus. An avid clown and juggler, he was completely enthralled. Lukas felt compelled to document circus life, but felt he lacked the photographic expertise to do it justice. He moved back to Hanover for three years to hone his skills at Hochschule Hannover’s Photojournalism & Documentary Program. Then in 2012 he returned to photograph and occasionally perform with three different circuses on three continents.

Yonas ShibeshiLukas Berger dressed as a clown at the Circus Debere Berhan in Ethiopia.

Pakistan: Lucky Irani Circus

“I slept in a different bed every day, the lions were roaring and one of the midget clowns was after me.”

All Lukas had to reconnect with the Pakistani circus was a single business card given to him by one of the acrobats. They did not have an active phone number or email address, and constantly traveled around the country. After weeks on their tail, including multiple 12-hour bus rides, he was finally able to catch up with them.

Lukas started off by tagging along. He didn’t have a place to sleep, often sleeping next to the monkey’s cage. The circus was a large-scale production, drawing crowds of up to 5,000 spectators and it was difficult for him to find his place. As he built trust with the circus, they allowed him to perform as a clown alongside two midgets, who performed a good cop–bad cop routine. In an initiation of sorts, the bad cop hit him over the head with a cricket stick during a performance hard enough to break it in half. After that incident he was allowed to travel with the circus.

Midget clowns Tareeq & Mohammed
Lukas BergerMidget clowns Tareeq & Mohammed

Germany: Circus Roncalli

“In the circus area there is a café, a caravan for teaching the children, an office caravan, horse stable, a ticket trolley, a workshop and stalls where you can buy popcorn and other goodies.”

Next, Lukas went to north Germany and traveled with the world-renowned Circus Roncalli for six months. This time, he lived in a small caravan of his own. The deal was that he could travel with the circus if he spent two days a week shooting images they could use for advertising and one day a week shooting for his project. The rest of the time, he trained with a few of Roncalli’s children and clowns. He also did odd jobs from selling tickets to working on the circus’s website. These duties, he said, were shared: “In a circus family, you do whatever is needed.”

He was impressed by the level of professionalism and the hierarchical structure of the circus. “Life there varies depending on contracts and level of fame. A minimum of six languages are spoken in this small circus town. Circus Roncalli is a great example of peaceful and friendly coexistence between different nationalities.”

Ethiopia: Circus Debere Berhan

“The troupe loves to perform on the streets of Ethiopian cities. Without great advertising and advance notice, half the city gathers around the performances. Shortly before the show, Yirgalem and Zakarias run on stilts through the streets to pick up as many people as possible. After the last act, young and old Ethiopians gather around the troupe and ask questions about the circus.”

After struggling to find a circus in Africa that would let him in, Lukas landed with Circus Debere Berhan. One of the few remaining circuses in the country, they perform near the capital, Addis Ababa, often walking between locations. Despite poor lighting and no heating or air-conditioning, Berger was impressed by the circus’s extreme discipline. “Despite all of these hardships, the circus manages not only to survive but to grow.” Most spectators don’t have the means to pay for tickets, as a result the circus is supported by NGOs and other European circuses. Lukas grew close to this circus, training its clowns and joining them for group meals. He loved their unique circus tradition of drinking their coffee with a side of popcorn.

Each time, Lukas was given the opportunity to stay on as a clown. Instead, he opted to move on, continuing his project elsewhere. Now he’s planning to approach a circus on another continent — his fourth — most likely in Chile.

Yirgalem Shemelis & Zekarias Kefyalew from Circus Debere Berhan
Lukas BergerYirgalem Shemelis & Zekarias Kefyalew from Circus Debere Berhan

Lukas Berger is a Hanover-based Austrian photographer. Circus was published as a book by Kettler. He is also the co-founder of the gallery–art space BOHAI.

Josh Raab is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

TIME Internet

New Google Doodle Honors Opening of Eiffel Tower

Google March 31, 2015 Honoring the 126th anniversary of the public opening of the Eiffel Tower.

The Parisian centerpiece was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over four decades

Once contemptuously referred to as “a truly tragic street lamp,” the Eiffel Tower of Paris, France, was opened on March 31, 1889, and to celebrate the 126th anniversary a new Google Doodle has been created in its honor.

Construction of the iron lattice structure, named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, began on Jan. 28, 1887. Despite the early protests, the tower was an instant hit, with an estimated 30,000 people climbing its steps in the first weeks — before even an elevator was installed.

Eventually, it grew into a worldwide landmark; as TIME wrote during last year’s 125th anniversary celebrations, “the tower became more than a tower, and more than a symbol of Paris.”

At 1,063 ft. high, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over four decades, until it was surpassed by New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930.

The Doodle itself features a group of supposedly French painters hanging precariously from the tower as they beautify the Grande Dame of Paris.

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