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Monday, November 21, 2011

My half-baked custom food ordering idea, now with Social (tm)

Here's another half-baked idea of mine from ages ago. I tend to be pretty specific about what I order from fast-food restaurants. It's not that the stock item is that bad, but it gets old saying the same thing every time I visit. There are also transcription errors. I came up with an idea which might make ordering a little more interesting.

Let's say you frequently do a "cheesy bean and rice burrito" without the fiesta sauce and without the creamy jalapeno sauce. Upon ordering this, you somehow have to convey both the base item and both of the subtractions to whoever is working the register that day. This can be difficult if they are not aware that removing those is even possible.

So how about this instead: assign that particular combination a number. Maybe that one is a 9704. You could roll up and ask for "two of the ninety-seven oh fours, please", and that would be it.

There's more. If this was done intelligently, it would work at every location of a given chain by way of global synchronization. That way, if you went to another store, your 9704 would still get you that burrito exactly the way you wanted.

I'm not done yet. Let's say you come up with a particularly interesting combination that you find appealing. You could then tell that number to your friends so they could try it out. They could even do it as a "blind order" as something of an adventure. All they'd know is that they ordered (some number), and whatever they were handed was the same thing you had originally constructed.

I could see this leading to a whole bunch of interesting creations.

Finally, there's no reason that these combinations would be limited to coming from customers. The chain itself could dream up wild ideas and make campaigns for them.

"This week only, the new twenty-five thousand! Come by for the hottest X, the freshest Y, and the tangy Z!"

These places already have numbered menus. Why not open it up?