He just wanted the recipe.
Chicago-based chain Portillo’s is known for having a cult following. Yes, leave it to Chicago to have a cult around an eatery that specializes in hot dogs. But recently, the restaurant has been newsworthy for another menu item – its lemon cake – after Portillo’s did one diehard fan a major solid and brought back the discontinued dessert.
Back in February, a guy named Ben took to the Chicago section of Reddit with a compelling demand. “I'm putting a $300 dollar bounty on Portillo's lemon cake,” he posted on the social news site. “For over a decade every Portillo's had a lemon cake. Then only a few Portillo's had it. Then it disappeared completely about 5ish years ago.” As a huge fan of this cake, Ben said he’s “been searching for a substitute ever since.” Finally reaching the end of his rope, the lemon cake lover decided to offer up cold hard cash to anyone who “can find me the exact recipe, with instructions, or find me a place that makes an exact copy.”
Luckily for Ben, his Reddit bounty actually got a lot of traction – so much so that eventually he heard from none other than Portillo’s itself. At first, a rep from the brand posted that the company would “make you a lemon cake and tell you how to make your own in the future.” The rep also answered the lingering question of why the cakes we’re discontinued in the first place: “the frosting would cause the cake layers to slide over time, so the cake didn't hold up well throughout the day.”
However, the Reddit post apparently garnered enough attention that Portillo’s eventually decide to do Ben – and all Portillo’s fans – one better. “Your devotion has inspired us to meet internally and figure out how we might bring back the Lemon Cake as limited-time offer,” the rep later wrote on Reddit. Indeed, this week the chain officially announced that the cake, which was taken off the menu over a decade ago, would be brought back to Portillo’s locations nationwide from June 13 to July 31.
“After we connected with Ben, we were inundated with messages from other customers,” Portillo’s CEO Keith Kinsey said. “We received inquiries from across the country asking us to bring the cake back. Ben’s plea for his favorite menu item really resonated with a lot of people; we couldn’t have asked for more passionate response from Portillo’s fans.” The restaurant even documented Ben’s plight in a YouTube video.
So there you have it: A story with a lemony sweet ending. Though this could establish a troubling precedent: The last thing we need is for people to think that begging on the Internet will make all their dreams come true. We’re looking at you, Nugget Boy.