On Wednesday night, in between questions about which element on the periodic table ends with an 'L' and which countries border both China and Russia, the Geeks Who Drink pub quiz asked something that literally everyone should know the answer to: What three sides does Chipotle serve with its chips?
It's salsa, queso, and guacamole, right? But even an upcharge—something else that literally everyone knows about—can't save Chipotle's guac from occasionally being awful. In the past few weeks, customers and employees have both complained about the color and consistency of the guac, and some locations have gone through temporary stretches where they've stopped serving it entirely.
On the r/Chipotle subreddit, workers have admitted that they've had to deal with "totally unusable" avocados for the past several weeks. "It's either no guac or gross stringy guac with unmashable hard-as-diamond avocado fragments strewn throughout. I feel bad serving it," one Florida-based Chipotle employee wrote.
"Our avocados were so solid they bounced if you threw them at something," another said. "Our newly sharpened knives wouldn't even get to the pit. On other days, they were so mushy, the avocado would basically disintegrate in your hand." (Still others said that they'd literally broken their restaurant's avocado smashers trying to turn those "golfballs" into guac.)
According to Business Insider, part of the problem is that Mexican avocados—or, more specifically, the ones from Michoacán—are only in season from November until April. During the summer, Chipotle switches to avocados from Peru. "Due to the seasonal transition from Peruvian to Mexican suppliers that happens every year at this time, we are experiencing normal variabilities in our avocados but we can assure our customers that our guac is still being freshly prepared in our restaurants every day," Chipotle spokesperson Laurie Schalow said.
In July, Bloomberg reported that President Donald Trump's ongoing freakouts about the U.S.-Mexico border had contributed to a price hike on avocados from Mexico. That month, the price of Haas avocados soared to an all-time high.
As a result, avocado importers and suppliers have had to find cheaper fruits, and they've turned their attention to avocados from Peru. As a result, this year, Chipotle has bought more Peruvian avocados than it has in any previous year.
That's not unique to Chipotle, either: According to Business Insider, the United States imported more than twice as many Peruvian avocados during the first half of this year than it did during the same time period in 2018. Peru is now the U.S.' second-biggest source of avocados.
Peruvian avocados aren't identical to their Mexican counterparts: Their skin has a different texture, the flesh has a different color, and they're harvested at a different stage in their maturation process, which means that Peru's avocados need more time to ripen. That longer ripening requirement and the drastic increase in Peruvian imports could explain why so many Chipotle staffers and customers have complained about frustratingly hard 'cados. It's certainly not because there's something wrong with Peru's otherwise-just-fine avocados.
On the bright side, Mexican avocados should be back on the menu—and back in Chipotle's guac—within a few weeks. Oh, and in case it comes up in conversation, the only element on the periodic table that ends with an L is nickel.