Would you buy a $100 unlimited "pasta pass" from Olive Garden?

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By Ben Popken

Staring unblinkingly into the eyes of calorie-counters and carbophobes, Olive Garden is rolling out a "Never Ending Pasta Pass." For $100, you can eat as much pasta as you want, or can, during the 7-week promotional period.

Beginning Monday at 3 pm E.T., a limited 1,000 of the passes will be sold online directly from the Olive Garden's website. The pass also includes unlimited breadsticks, salad, soup and Coca-Cola soft drinks. It's a marketing gimmick for the casual Italian-themed dining chain, whose business has softened in recent years, to pump sales and scrape up some online buzz.







The pasta pass also piggbybacks on Olive Garden's existing "Never Ending Pasta Bowl" promotion, running concurrently from Sept. 22 to Nov. 9, which lets patrons eat as much pasta as they want for $9.99 per visit.

To get the best value out of the pass, you would need to eat at Olive Garden at least 10 times in 49 days. That's once every five days and sometimes at least twice a week. That's a lotta pasta.

While the trend in American diet advice is for smaller portion size, and fewer calories and carbs, there are still plenty who haven't heard the news. Or just really like pasta, especially the 1,000-calorie variety that Olive Garden's average entree weighs in at. The chain served 13 million bowls during last year's Never Ending Pasta Bowl promo and says it's their most popular promotion every year.

"We're excited to celebrate pasta superfans with our limited edition Pasta Pass, which brings even more value and excitement to our guests' Never Ending Pasta Bowl experiences," said Jay Spenchian, Olive Garden's executive vice president of marketing. 

Atkins must be rolling over in his grave.