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A Chipotle Burrito Is Not an iPhone

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Disgusting food advocate Matthew Yglesias has a story in Slate that makes the case that "in many ways, the Chipotle burrito is very similar to the iPhone." Which would be true, if iPhones were completely disgusting.

Now, I will forgive Yglesias, because he does not live in San Francisco, and so perhaps he has never had a good burrito. And of course, it is very possible that he has never used or seen an iPhone. However, were both of those conditions met, he would know that the Chipotle burrito is nothing like an iPhone. I actually think it is incredibly likely that he has never had a real burrito, or seen an iPhone. (Matt! If you are ever in San Francisco, I will take you to La Taqueria and let you play with my iPhone while we enjoy a delicious burrito.)

And okay, I get it. Slate loves to be contrarian and I'm likely just nibbling on Yglesias' troll bait here. But let's look at the evidence he presents:

  • Chipotle takes a standard fast food experience, makes it better, and charges a premium for that.
  • It is innovative, cooking meat via sous vide from Chicago and shipping nationwide.
  • Its assembly line workers are low paid.
  • ???

I'm not sure that Yglesias intended his point about low-paid assembly line workers to be a comparison point to the iPhone, but let's go ahead and give him that one. Hell, let's give him all those points, no matter how tenuous and ridiculous. And I'll even toss in an additional one, that Yglesias failed to mention: Chipotle has a salsa bar, and the iPhone has a Genius Bar. Kind of.


Despite that, I still can supply ample evidence to explain why the Chipotle burrito is not, in fact, at all like an iPhone. My main points are as follows:

  • Chipotle burritos are terrible.

Perhaps I should unpack that evidence a little bit.

Let's begin with the history of the iPhone. Before the iPhone, smart phones were universally terrible, with the possible exception of the Danger Sidekick. Sure, Blackberrys are still terrible, but by and large the iPhone was so great from the get-go that it became the proverbial rising tide raising all boats. Today, Android, Windows 7 and Web OS are all pretty amazing. Overall burrito quality has not been positively affected by the Chipotle burrito.


Next, let's examine the innovations introduced by each. The iPhone introduced us to many new features, it gave us multitouch and visual voicemail and a radically different industrial design than anything we'd seen before. The Chipotle burrito is little more than a mass-market copy of the Mission Burrito. It is to the Mission burrito as a $49 off-brand Android handset is to the iPhone.

Finally, we should look at the build quality. As we we said before, the Chipotle burrito essentially ripped off the design of the Mission Burrito. However, in doing so, it got important details wrong. The Mission Burrito is eaten vertically, by standing it on one end, and unwrapping the aluminum foil at the top side as you work your way down. It is flawless. The Chipotle burrito, on the other hand, is typically put together without care or attention by those aforementioned low-paid workers. They typically stuff them so full that the ingredients come bursting out of the side, and it is impossible to eat the burrito vertically, as the good Lord intended burritos to be eaten. Were the iPhone built like a Chipotle burrito, its processor would be on the outside.


In summation, allow me to reiterate my major points:

  • Chipotle burritos are terrible.
  • iPhones are wonderful.
  • Al Pastor is the most delicious of all possible meat products.

Ipso facto: The Chipotle burrito is nothing like an iPhone.