The burrito chain is hoping you'll learn to love its queso.
Less than a year after it made its way into your burritos and burrito bowls, chorizo is leaving Chipotle. The chunky pork-and-chicken sausage was is being pulled to make way for queso, which has, at best, only received a lukewarm reception from customers across the country.
"When we decided to move forward with the national rollout of queso, we opted to replace chorizo on the line with queso, so chorizo is going away," Chris Arnold, a Chipotle spokesman, told CNBC in an email. "While we really liked the chorizo … the efficiency of our model has always been rooted … in doing just a few things so we can do them really well." And while Arnold wrote "many" customers also liked the chorizo, sales tell a different story: the spicy sausage only accounts for three percent of the company's total protein sales, an analyst told CNBC.
But the queso dip, which Chipotle has described as "complex and slightly spicy," has not been a home run with the restaurant's regulars. Just six days after the dip's September 12 debut, one Chipotle customer took to Twitter to say, "Chipotle queso is probably the most disappointing thing I've ever experienced in my life." Another user didn't mince words: "Chipotle queso is not good. And I love cheese."
Like its chorizo, the queso dip is an attempt to answer consumer demand and drive traffic into locations around the nation. "The impression is that Chipotle has no real strategy when it comes to menu innovation, it just seems to be grasping at straws in an attempt to come up with a winning product," Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, told CNBC. "That both confuses customers and does no favors to the sales line."
But queso could very well be a winning product. In fact, multiple brands like Taco Bell and Wendy's have recently launched queso-themed menu items, causing other chains like Moe's Southwest Grill have to remind us they've always served it to begin with. One thing's for sure: There are few better ways to win people over than with melted cheese.