The chain says 85 percent of pasta lovers opted-in to the lifetime pass offer.

By Mike Pomranz
August 16, 2019
Olive Garden

For insatiable chain restaurant pasta lovers, yesterday was the biggest day of the year. At 2 p.m. ET, Olive Garden opened up sales for its sixth annual Never Ending Pasta Pass. For 2019, the brand promised something "bigger" — and not only did that mean that this year's $100 pass would last for nine weeks, a week longer than last year, but also that Olive Garden would be selling 50 Lifetime Pasta Passes for an additional $400.

As has happened in the past, Olive Garden says that this year's passes sold out "instantly." But 2019's event also included a bit of a social experiment. You see, the Lifetime passes weren't sold separately; instead, everyone who bought a regular $100 Never Ending Pasta Pass had the choice to "opt-in" for the chance to pay extra for the Lifetime pass simply by checking a box. As a result, Olive Garden was able to reveal just how many of its pasta pass purchasers would be willing to throw down an extra $400 to upgrade to a lifetime of fettuccine alfredo, et al. The answer: 85 percent.

Frankly, 85 percent might seem a bit low at first, but it's worth noting that the passes are completely nontransferable. "Valid for use by Named Passholder only," Olive Garden's terms state — and you know they will know who you are! So unless you truly are all-in for eating at Olive Garden more than 45 times during the rest of your life (that's the breakeven point according to the chain) then, in reality, the extra money might not be worth it.

Meanwhile, at least a few Olive Garden diehards walked away from yesterday's sellout unsatisfied — and apparently not just because they weren't able to secure one of the 24,000 passes. Not only did Yahoo Finance find complaints about problems with the Olive Garden website on Twitter, but writers for the site also reported finding a "glitch" whereby they had trouble getting their orders through. Don't cry for Yahoo Finance; they got their passes after figuring out a fix, but others may not have been so lucky. Regardless, an Olive Garden spokesperson told the site, "We saw a huge volume on our website at sale time, which could be why you experienced the delay."

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