An attempt to buy one of Olive Garden’s 22,050 eat-free passes revealed the whole batch sold out online in a fraction of a second, netting the Italian casual chain $2.2 million in the breadth of a mouse click.
The Darden Restaurants brand had advised would-be buyers to park themselves on the sales webpage and get ready to click. A timer ticked down the minutes and seconds.
But a click the instant the counter hit 0:00:00 brought a prompt saying the $200 passes were already gone. A quick pivot to the $100 passes brought the same message of consolation. Other shoppers had been quicker.
Although Olive Garden has yet to reveal the official time of the sellout, a separate clock showed the whole experience took just short of a second. Last year, the sellout of 21,000 passes was officially clocked at one-sixtieth of a minute.
Last year, all the Never Ending Pasta Passes sold for $100 each. Buyers had two options this year. The $100 pass provides unlimited servings of pasta any time the bearer visits an Olive Garden between Sept. 25 and Nov. 19. The chain offered 22,000 this year, up from 21,000 in 2016 and from 2,000 during 2015. The deal was first offered in 2014.
The $200 version also entitles the owner to an eight-day tour of Italy, with airfare, hotel expenses, meals and excursion fees included. Only 50 of those were offered.
The 2016 and 2015 batches also sold out within a second.
The Never Ending Pasta Pass has become one of the restaurant industry’s most celebrated promotions, grabbing attention from major media as well as late-night TV hosts.