Okay, someone has to have the guts to say what we\’re all thinking, so I\’ll be the one to do it:

The chipotle chicken sandwich at Panera is DELICIOUS.

The only problem I really have with the sandwich itself is the fact that Panera pushes the fact that it\’s \”antibiotic free\” chicken. Aren\’t the antibiotics what make the chicken so delicious? Can I go up to the counter and request they slather my sandwich with extra antibiotics? In fact, I\’d actually prefer my chicken to be the Barry Bonds of chickens, even if it does keep it out of the Poultry Hall of Fame. (But I\’d refuse to eat a chicken who was a heavy gambler, like Pete Rose. You have to draw the line somewhere.)

(By the way, when did the word \”chipotle\” become a real word in the English language? Five years ago, nobody had ever heard it, now you can probably get chipotle flavored baby formula. I propose the following: No word can be added to English common usage, until one drops out. For instance, \”chipotle\” can\’t be added until we determine once and for all that nobody can ever use \”oriental\” again.)

But here\’s the thing that intrigues me about Panera in general: Go in there during the day and check out all the people in there with their computers, working, with papers spread all over their tables. They sit there, all day, putting together their graphs and charts for work.

When did it become acceptable to sit in Panera all day and do all your work? Do these guys really have to wear ties? Why should my bagel purchase subsidize this guy\’s office expenditures? It wouldn\’t shock me to see some guy with a picture of his wife and kids propped up on the table.

I imagine he has a conversation at home like this:

Child: \”Daddy, are you coming to my dance recital tonight?\”

Dad: \”Sorry, honey – I have a big day at Panera tomorrow that I have to get ready for. I\’m planning on trying the asiago cheese bagel, and I have a lot of preparation to do ahead of time.\”

I imagine it\’s a tough day at Panera when the manager has to cut one of these guys loose:

\”Hi… (looks at receipt)… STEVE. I have some bad news… We\’re going to have to let you go. No, no, stop crying. It\’s nothing you did – your reports on the deliciousness of our chicken salad sandwich were really solid. But we\’re going to have to ask you to clear off your desk, and finish your soda. I hear Einstein Bagels might have a spot open on the West Side. Best of luck to you and the kids.\”

Next time I go in, I\’m going to grab the \”order up\” microphone and announce to everyone in the restaurant that Friday is now Hawaiian Shirt Day.

In fact, I put together this graphic representation of my love of the chipotle chicken sandwich. As can be deduced from the chart, the more bacon that\’s on the sandwich, the more delicious it becomes:

The methodology for this study can be found in the footnotes to this report.