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The Surprising Start To The Never-Ending Pasta Pass


One thousand carb-loading Americans are about to cross the two-week mark in a sort of pasta endurance trial. The restaurant chain Olive Garden has what it calls a Never-Ending Pasta Pass; a hundred dollars for seven weeks of unlimited pasta, breadsticks, soup and salad. A thousand cards sold out in less than two hours. Now the marathon is underway, and some people are taking it slow while others are going all Olive Garden, all the time. Hagana Kim is keeping a blog he calls "49 Days of Pasta."

HAGANA KIM: When I first heard about it, I sent the link to my wife, and she said do not under any circumstances buy this Pasta Pass and so I did.

SHAPIRO: In one recent entry he wrote, this card is pure magic. It's like a credit card that you never have to pay off. The bill just disappears. I like to think Gandalf would think of me as an equal.

KIM: Somehow I have not gained or lost any weight. I did start going to the gym on day two of the experiment. But really, I don't really work out that much. I walk a little more. I've been actually surprised that I haven't gained any weight.

SHAPIRO: In Los Angeles, Thomas Reyes says some of his buddies have devious plans for the Pasta Pass.

THOMAS REYES: One of my friends actually said we should go to the olive garden where she grew up because her high school crush works there. So she's using my Pasta Pass to make this guy jealous. It's like look at me, I'm the Pasta Pass guy, which is bizarre, but sure, why not.

SHAPIRO: He says other friends are concerned about his health, but he assures them he's getting a variety of important nutrients like Alfredo sauce.

REYES: Roasted mushroom Alfredo with fettuccine. There's like, I believe, six different soups. I'm sure I will try all of them. And the salad is pretty good. I do like the salad, and it's good to get a refreshing bit of vegetables there.

SHAPIRO: Reyes is also keeping a blog called "40 Days of Pasta." He writes a hundred bucks for a two-month-long pasta buffet - that's what America is all about. This is why we came to this country, to one day have the opportunity to eat unlimited amounts of mediocre food. Take the breadsticks for example, actually on second thought, don't take them.

REYES: They are just kind of dry and salty. I usually have - they give you like three breadsticks, and they just sit on my table.

SHAPIRO: On the other side of the country, Hagana Kim agrees.

KIM: They do go south pretty quickly. I believe I saw a report that said that they deteriorate in quality after seven minutes, but it might be even sooner than that. It's actually shocking how much worse they are 10 minutes after they have arrived at the table.

SHAPIRO: A few years ago, none other than First Lady Michelle Obama announced that Olive Garden would cut calories in its dishes by 20 percent, which raises the question when it comes to pasta, what is 20 percent less than infinity? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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