Chipotle Burrito = Protocolized Mission Burrito

“ “It’s like Galactus from Marvel Comics. It’s eating up burrito cultures from across the country,” he said. “Chipotle taught an entire generation of Americans to eat a very specific style of burrito. If they want a burrito, they’re going to want the one they grew up with and neglect the other styles.

Ironically, Chipotle’s repossession of the Mission-style burrito mirrors what happened to the homespun Chicano-owned taquerias that initially made them famous in San Francisco. When the Mission began to gentrify in the late 1990s—and the rents began to climb toward the unlivable ranges the city is notorious for today—the greasy-spoon burrito shops slowly evaporated under the shadows of the newly built high-rises.” California burrito: The San Diego specialty that Big Burrito doesn’t want you to know about.

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We’re all familiar with standardization of ingredients in the US (Cavendish banana etc) but the standardization of particular styles of diverse recipes via protocolized recipes is subtler.

Protocolized recipe = refined in a food lab to tight tolerances and matched to optimized supply chains, and mapping to precise conditioning of tastes that leads to forgetting of primordial variety. A version of monoculture effects. Protocol monoculture.

Forgetting of variety is a phenomenon I’d like to see more research into. Technodiversity loss due to protocolization is one of the dangers of protocols that Nadia hints at in her essay (to be published soon). Some things (like burritos) should not be protocolized but are highly vulnerable to it. Protocol monoculture is in some ways the opposite of polyglot persistence (of memory and state) and “microservices” broadly speaking.

Unlike corporate monopolies or oligopolies, protocol monoculture arise not from coercive dominance of an economic actor or active collusion but pure mimetic effects. What spreads to monocultural dominance is effectively what is good at spreading rather than what is good at serving the function.

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