Olive Garden's confusing 'never ending pasta pass'

Olive Garden is now promising ‘never-ending’ pasta. Except it does end, and it’s not just pasta.

The truth about the new "never-ending pasta pass" is the holder only gets unlimited pasta for seven weeks.

Kind of a downer, but on the plus side, you also get salad, bread and soda. At $100, it's not a bad deal. Of course that depends on how much pasta you plan to eat in seven weeks.

The company says this is an addition to its popular ‘Never Ending Pasta Bowl’ promo -- all the pasta you can eat for $9.99. It goes from Sept. 22 to Nov. 9.

USA Today has the clear-and-simple explanation from Olive Garden’s executive vice president of marketing:

He says of the pass: "What we're trying to do is get some attention. It's sure to provoke a reaction."

Reaction? Definitely. Immediately on Twitter:

From, “If you guys need me, I’ll be at Olive Garden in a diaper.”

To “no good can come of this...”

Salon’s headline calls the pass a “triumph of civilization,” but of course, the article’s text dubs the promo, “This crucial touchstone in the descent of human civilization.”

Just awesome or just a joke, the promo is getting attention.

And that’s needed -- Business Insider points out Olive Garden’s been “struggling” with sales, “same-store sales dropped 1.3% in the most recent quarter.”

The chain has recently used other angles to bring in mouths...

“Does this change your perception at all of Olive Garden?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, absolutely.”

But it’s the "never-ending" idea that’s becoming more popular among struggling chain restaurants. Red Lobster and TGI Friday’s have also used it.

Forbes and Time say chains like these and fast-food restaurants are seeing big competition as fast-casual dining options like Chipotle continue to grow.

If you’re interested in the Never-Ending Pasta Pass, it goes on sale on Olive Garden’s website Monday. Only 1,000 will be sold.

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