This weekend, Chipotle unveiled arguably one of its biggest secrets: the guacamole recipe. Yes, you can now make guac at home just like Chipotle does in its kitchen. All you need is avocados, lime juice, cilantro, red onion, jalapeños, and salt. (For the record, Slate supports adding tomatoes and garlic to guacamole as well.)
As a marketing move, this is kind of brilliant. Chipotle has long said that customers could make most everything it serves at home, with ingredients purchased in local supermarkets. By releasing its guac recipe, Chipotle is letting restaurant-goers test that themselves (something that will presumably make them happy) while also not risking too much business (being able to make Chipotle guac isn’t a substitute for ordering an entrée at Chipotle). Sharing the guac recipe creates a new reason for consumers to be excited about Chipotle and gives Chipotle a new avenue into the American home.
That said, what’s particularly striking isn’t Chipotle’s decision to tell you how to whip up its guac in your kitchen, but to let all its competitors know as well. At a time when traditional fast-food chains like McDonald’s are floundering, Chipotle, with its insanely loyal fans and routine double digits sales growth, seems both magical and invincible. The “next Chipotle” in the restaurant world has become a marker of potential much as “Uber, but for” is in the tech world. Rivals would love to bottle some of Chipotle’s lightning. And so by opening up its recipe, Chipotle is essentially daring competitors to come after it. But it’s also saying something potentially more intimidating: Here’s our recipe. The secret is there is no secret. Good luck.