10 stories

Chipotle Ditching Chorizo To Focus On Queso


Less than a year after Chipotle added chorizo sausage to its menu, the fast-causal Mexican chain is ditching the protein option and turning its focus toward its new — not entirely loved — queso.

Chipotle confirmed to CNBC today that it would remove chorizo from its menu following speculation that it was considering cutting the item in light of sluggish sales.

The protein option — which joined chicken, steak, sofritas, and carnitas as a burrito, salad, and taco topping — accounts for just an estimated 3% of Chipotle’s sales.

Chipotle’s Chorizo Choice

Chipotle added chorizo to its menu in Oct. 2016 after more than a year of testing.

The chorizo is made with “responsibly raised” chicken and pork, and seasoned with paprika, toasted cumin and chipotle peppers, and then seared on a hot grill to give it a perfect char.

Adding Chorizo to the national menu has been a long time coming for Chipotle. The company initially added the meat to the menu in Kansas City in June 2015. Select restaurants in Washington, D.C., Ohio, New York, Colorado, and California received chorizo in June 2016.

The company had previously planned to rollout the option nationally sooner, but noted on an earnings call last year that the launch had been postponed because of the company’s ongoing food safety crisis.

Queso Over Chorizo

The decision to remove chorizo from the menu was made around the same time the company decided to roll out queso nationally.

“While we really liked the chorizo — and many customers did too — the efficiency of our model has always been rooted in part, in doing just a few things so we can do them really well,” Chris Arnold, spokesperson for Chipotle, tells CNBC.

Whether or not Chipotle can do queso well remains to be seen. The initial reaction from customers hasn’t been great.

Still, the Arnold noted last week that it was prepared for the lukewarm reviews, “we knew there would be some who didn’t like it based on the simple fact that ours is different, largely because it’s not made with artificial ingredients.”

“That’s OK,” Arnold told Consumerist. “Others love it. And it’s performance in testing has been sufficiently encouraging that we opted to roll it out national.”

Read the whole story
Share this story
4 public comments
452 days ago
..why not both?
452 days ago
Fuck 2017 man.
Cary, NC
452 days ago
For real.
452 days ago
Still waiting for Chipotle to Focus on Food Safety.
Bellevue, WA
452 days ago
Sadness. I no longer have a reason to eat at Chipotle.
Overland Park, KS

Chipotle Bringing Drippy, Cheesy Queso To All Restaurants Next Week


Get your chips ready: Chipotle is taking its queso out off the test track and into all restaurants next week. 

Chipotle announced today that after years of customers asking for tubs of drippy cheese, the option will officially grace menus across the country starting Sept. 12.

The fast-casual Mexican restaurant began testing a queso offering at its NEXT kitchen in New York and then expanded to 350 restaurants in Southern California and Colorado this summer.

Those tests proved to be successful, obviously. Chipotle says it was able to gain customer feedback and tweak the recipe and ingredient proportions slightly.

Most Requested

The tests came after Chipotle and its executives continually denied cheese-lovers their dips, noting that the chain just couldn’t find a version that was up to its standards.

That is, until now.

“Although queso was the number one requested menu item, we never added it to our menu before now because we wouldn’t use the industrial additives used in most quesos,” Steve Ells, founder, chairman and CEO at Chipotle, said in a statement.

A Slightly Different Variation

Ells notes that the company’s new dip will vary from restaurant to restaurant as the chain won’t be using those previously mentioned additives.

“Our queso may vary slightly depending on the characteristics of the aged cheddar cheese used in each batch, but using only real ingredients is what makes our food so delicious,” he notes.

Starting Sept. 12, customers can order queso on their entrée, or on the side in two sizes with chips.

Prices vary slightly by city, but range from $1.25 to add it to an entrée to $5.25 for a large side order.

Read the whole story
Share this story
2 public comments
465 days ago
So now you can get E Coli, but at least it came with queso.
465 days ago
But does this mean they're getting rid of chorizo? because if they do that, I have no reason to return to chipotle
Overland Park, KS

New Star Trek series will abandon Gene Roddenberry’s cardinal rule

2 Comments and 4 Shares

Enlarge / Sonequa Martin-Green plays protagonist Michael Burnham, first officer of the U.S.S. Shenzhou, on new CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery. (credit: CBS)

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had a lot of strict rules for writers on his shows. Some, like the requirement that both female and male officers be called "sir," were thrown out a while ago (Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Kathryn Janeway, wanted to be called "ma'am"). Now, with forthcoming series Star Trek: Discovery, we're about to see one of Roddenberry’s most cherished rules bite the dust.

When Roddenberry first framed his ideas for the Star Trek universe, he wanted to be sure that writers would emphasize the Utopian aspects of future life in the Federation. Some of that Utopianism was hardwired into the show's basic premise, in which money, war, and racial discrimination are things of the distant past. But Roddenberry wasn't satisfied with that—he wanted characters whose behavior was exemplary, too.

So he made a rule, which endured long after his death, that main characters were not allowed to mistreat each other or have conflicts that weren’t quickly resolved. Writers for the various series also weren't allowed to show characters being malevolent or cruel. Of course, there were exceptions. Aliens or non-crew members could be as awful as the writers wanted, as could protagonists whose minds were being controlled by outside forces. (This helps explain why our heroes are always being possessed or hopping over to the Mirror Universe.)

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read the whole story
Share this story
2 public comments
534 days ago
This is not new. The crew of the NX-01 treated T'Pol very poorly during the early seasons. Also Dr. Pulaski was horrible to Data in TNG.
535 days ago
No. Noooooooooooo!
Los Angeles, CA

Trump Administration Looking To End Student Loan Forgiveness Program

1 Comment

This October will mark the first time that student loan borrowers who have worked for 10 years with the government or a qualifying non-profit will be eligible to have their debts wiped clean. It may also be the last time, as the Trump administration is reportedly targeting this and other Department of Education repayment programs for elimination.

The Washington Post, citing not-yet-released budget documents, reports that the possible plan would revamp federal student aid programs, including income-driven repayment and forgiveness plans.

According to the documents expected to be released next week, the budget would completely end the public service loan forgiveness program that wipes away federal student loan debt for some public servants.

For those unfamiliar, in 2007 the government began offering a public service loan-forgiveness program that will forgive certain federal student loans for borrowers who work for government organizations and non-profit groups for 10 years and make 120 on-time monthly payments on their loans.

The Post reports that there are currently an estimated 553,000 individuals enrolled in the program, which will forgive its first round of debt this fall. It’s unclear what would happen to the borrowers enrolled in the program if its budget is cut or eliminated.

We’ve reached out to the Department of Education, which manages the program, for comment. We’ll update this post when we hear back.

The Post reports that the forgiveness plan isn’t the only student loan program that could be in for a makeover.

Another aspect of the budget would revamp current income-driven repayment plans — meant to reduce the debt burden of borrowers.

The possible change would affect the time and amount borrowers in programs would pay. For instance, instead of a program where undergraduate borrowers can have their loans forgiven after paying 10% of their income for 20 years, they would have to pay 12.5% of their income for 15 years before forgiveness is granted.

The proposal would also revamp how much graduate students pay: Instead of 10% for their income for 25 years, they would pay 12.5% for 30 years, according to the Post.

Consumer advocates notes that while the leaked budget documents are troubling, many steps would have to be taken in order to actually eliminate some of these programs.

For instance, the public service loan forgiveness program is set in statute and cannot be eliminated unless Congress votes to do so.

Any final education budget will ultimately have to be approved by Congress, which, as we’ve learned in the past, could take up the whole thing or ignore it completely.

Just The Latest Controversy

Of course, the forgiveness program hasn’t been without its controversies. Back in March, the Dept. of Education revealed that some borrowers who believed their federal student loans were going to be forgiven through this program may still be on the hook for this debt, as the Department said the notices of eligibility sent to these consumers were not binding.

The revelation was made in a filing [PDF] by the Dept. of Education in response to a lawsuit that accused the agency of failing to keep its promise to forgive the education debts of public servants after 10 years.

Some borrowers claim that in recent years they have received notice from FedLoan, the company charged with determining if an individuals work qualifies for the program, that despite being previous qualified for the forgiveness program that they were no longer eligible to have their loans forgiven.

After receiving such letters, four previously qualified participants and the American Bar Association sued the Department of Education to find out why the changes were being made.

Read the whole story
Share this story
1 public comment
576 days ago
If this isn't a big "screw you" to the middle class, I don't know what is

Why Aren’t More Cord-Cutters Flocking To Live-TV Streaming Services?

1 Comment

Millions of Americans have canceled their cable TV subscriptions in the last decade, choosing instead to get their video entertainment over the internet. A growing number of services have popped up in recent years that offer cable-like live-TV streaming for this audience: Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, with Hulu planning to launch a competitor soon, and Comcast reportedly looking to get into the fray. Yet, despite the multiple options and the large potential market of cord-cutters and cord-nevers, these platforms have yet to win over the masses.

While most companies have been cagey about their subscriber numbers to these relatively new streaming platforms, analyst Dan Rayburn estimated this week that Sling TV — the oldest of the existing live-TV services — has around 1.3 million subscribers after more than two years of availability.

In all, predicts Rayburn, this entire market will have a total of fewer than 3 million subscribers by year’s end. While that’s not horrible, it’s only a fraction of the potential audience for these services. Even the estimate of 1.3 million Sling subscribers is about one-tenth the size of parent company’s Dish’s subscriber base.

AT&T’s DirecTV Now reportedly got off to a decent start, adding 200,000 subscribers in its first month, but it’s unclear how many of those people have stuck around or how many subscribers have been added in the months since.

So why haven’t the many millions of people who have cut the cord, never had a cable connection, or really hate their cable company rushed to give their money to these services that are generally less-expensive than pay-TV, and don’t require contracts or leased hardware?

We have some thoughts.

1. They’re Too Much Like Cable

The dream of many cord-cutters is the ability to cherry-pick the channels they pay for, but — in spite of Sling’s potentiall misleading “A La Carte TV” slogan — none of these live-TV services come even close to fulfilling that goal.

At best, they provide somewhat affordable alternatives to basic cable, but what are the odds that Sling TV subscribers are regularly watching more than 4-5 of the 20+ channels they have to pay for?

Additionally, DirecTV Now and PS Vue have largely copied the cable TV model of charging different rates for tiers of channels. For example, if you want NFL Network on PS Vue, you’ve got to pay for the mid-level “Core” tier that is $5/month more expensive. Yes, it also includes a bunch of other channels, but you may not want any of them.

2. Some People Still Like Pay-TV

While traditional cable companies have indeed lost a lot of subscribers as video streaming has become more popular, it’s still the overwhelmingly most popular way to get TV.

Since 2007, Comcast has lost around 3 million video subscribers, but it still has more than 21 million households paying for TV service. And its video subscriber losses appear to have flattened in recent quarters. That doesn’t mean the cord-cutting is done; it’s just an indicator that — as we get to in a second — many people aren’t ready to replace their current setup with live-TV streaming.

3. Playing Wait-And-See

Even though video technology seems to change on a moment-by-moment basis, consumers aren’t always eager to be the first to test the latest thing, especially if it means having to ditch the system you’re familiar with.

There continue to be hiccups and issues with the current streaming platforms — connection errors; lagging, stuttering video; hardware requirements; geographic and content limitations — that most people don’t feel they need to worry about with cable.

The lack of DVR service in Sling, DirecTV Now, and Vue have also not helped. Vue offers an ability to tag shows that will be remotely stored, but watching “recorded” content on the Sony platform can be so much of a chore that you don’t want to use it. Likewise, many networks and shows on these platforms don’t allow DVR functionality like pausing or rewinding.

Despite these streaming platforms being marketed as cable replacements, their user interfaces often appear to have been designed by people who have never seen a basic TV listing grid, and often present the platform’s

So there are certainly some potential cord-cutters — how many, we can’t even begin to estimate — just waiting to be convinced that these platforms will work and offer them something worth going through the hassle of canceling their cable subscription.

After all…

4. Breaking Up With Cable Companies Is A Pain

Aside from multi-year contracts that can result in hundreds — sometimes thousands — of dollars in penalties for early cancellation, cable providers do not make it easy to sever your ties with the company.

Unlike purchasing service, which can usually be done online without ever having to speak to anyone, cancelling can involve lengthy chats with desperate customer-retention employees. If you make it through that gauntlet, you’ll then have to return your TV equipment, which often means putting it in the mail or going to the local cable company office and waiting in line while holding several DVRs (that you’ve probably paid hundreds of dollars in leasing fees for but must return ASAP or face having to pay for in full).

Even when customers return their cable boxes, there’s always the chance that a mistake will be made and you’ll continue to charged for equipment you no longer possess, or charged the full price for equipment they claim you never returned. We’ve heard countless stories of this sort of buffoonery from customers of seemingly every cable and satellite provider, so there’s no reason to assume that once you hand over your cable box, that’s the last you’ll have to deal with your pay-TV carrier.

In fact, many cord-cutters aren’t fully cutting their connection to their cable company, as it’s often their internet service provider. Depending on their package and the discounts offered to customers who purchase bundles of services, there may be little to no savings in replacing their pay-TV subscription with a TV-streaming service if the cost of their internet service goes up.

5. Some People Just Don’t Want Live TV

The real danger for cable providers isn’t cord-cutting, but the coming generations of consumers that prefer to watch whatever they want wherever they want on whatever device they want. Yes, many pay-TV companies offer the ability to watch live-TV anywhere, but what about viewers who don’t really care about watching something live?

These are people who may be perfectly content watching shows on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Amazon Prime, or any of the other growing array of subscription streaming libraries. They may not miss being able to watch the local evening news because they don’t understand why you would wait until 10 or 11 p.m. to watch a short, ad-interrupted recap of news that you already saw elsewhere because you were online most of the day.

It may be difficult for both cable companies and live-TV streaming services to convince these consumers to pay $20-$100/month for a bunch of channels they will probably never watch and limited on-demand content.

There’s no doubt that streaming is the future of video entertainment. Even the cable companies plan to (eventually, maybe) replace most cable boxes with apps that work on your TV and connected devices. The question that still needs to be answered is whether live TV is the future, or if coming generations will snicker at us for trying to shoehorn this decades-old “you’ll watch when we tell you to watch” format into technology that is intended to give the user the ultimate control over when and what they view.

Read the whole story
Share this story
1 public comment
595 days ago
Commercials. Pure and simple.
595 days ago
Yeah, it is totally the commercials for me. I don't understand why I am paying for service AND watching commercials anymore.

President Trump Signs Resolution Killing Internet Privacy Rules, Allowing ISPs To Keep Selling Your Data

1 Comment and 2 Shares

As expected, President Trump has signed a resolution — recently passed by both the Senate and House — killing the FCC’s new broadband privacy rules, making sure that internet service providers are legally allowed to profit off users’ personal information.

Without additional comment, the White House confirmed on Monday night that President Trump had signed SJ Res. 34, which rolls back rules finalized by the FCC last October, and effectively prevents the agency from coming up with regulations that are similar.

Those rules would have barred internet service providers — not just cable companies, but also wireless data providers — from using or selling highly sensitive user information (including geographic location, health or financial information, Social Security numbers, browsing and app-usage histories) without explicit permission from customers. It would also have required ISPs to let users opt out of sharing less-sensitive information (including your name, address, IP address, and subscription level).

MORE: Without internet privacy rules, how can I protect my data?

Cable and wireless companies (and their respective lobbyists) opposed these rules, claiming it was unfair for the FCC to provide one set of regulations for broadband providers and another for online content companies (like Google, Amazon, and Netflix).

The problem is, the privacy practices of those companies is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, which has limited ability to make rules. The FCC does have rulemaking authority, but it has no legal authority to regulate content companies.

So rather than create a law giving the FTC rulemaking authority or introduce far-reaching privacy legislation that evens the playing field and protects all consumers, Congress decided to gut the FCC rules through a process that provides for no debate, no amendment, and only requires a simple majority to pass through the Senate.

The regulations were finalized in Oct. 2016, but were eligible for rollback via the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that allows Congress to express its disapproval of new, major regulations. To undo rules, the CRA requires majority votes in both the House and Senate, and then the signature of the President.

This privacy CRA resolution passed through the Senate on a strict party-line vote. In the House, 15 Republicans broke rank to vote against the resolution, but it still passed 215-205.

Until this administration, the CRA had only been used successfully once in its two decades of existence. Nearly a dozen CRA resolutions have gone to the President for signing in just the last few weeks.

Read the whole story
Share this story
1 public comment
620 days ago
> Claims people are spying on him
> Sells private browsing data
619 days ago
If you don't want someone to know where you browse, just don't browse. Nobody needs the internet! /s
Next Page of Stories