6 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Olive Garden

We've uncovered intel that makes us love Olive Garden even more. Think secret recipes, $200 trips to Italy and celebrities galore.

Olive Garden restaurantPhoto: Shutterstock / Elise Amendola/AP/REX
Photo: Shutterstock / Elise Amendola/AP/REX

Olive Garden is one of the most popular chain restaurants in the United States, with slews of tasty recipes (get our copycats here!). Behind this family-friendly Italian chain are some fun and quirky facts even its most frequent customers might not know. Read on to find out how many breadsticks are actually baked each year, plus other crazy things—like an Olive Garden trip to Italy for just a couple hundred dollars.

1. The Chefs Bake as Many as 700 Million Breadsticks Each Year

That’s about three breadsticks per customer. Investors in Olive Garden’s parent company, Darden, weren’t too happy about this, saying one breadstick per customer was enough. They estimated that cutting back on breadsticks would save the company about $5 million (and at 140 calories per stick, it would cut nearly 3.3 billion calories). As a result, customers only receive additional breadsticks if they ask—but who wouldn’t ask?

2. Olive Garden Has a Secret Menu

“Secret menu” is a loose term, but the chefs at Olive Garden are pretty laid-back—if a seasonal item you love is no longer on the menu, they’ll usually make it for you if they have the ingredients. Plus, while their zeppoli dessert is typically served with chocolate sauce, some locations have other sauce options, like raspberry, which they might forget to mention unless you ask.

3. Famous People Eat at Olive Garden, Too

In 2013, Shia LaBeouf was spotted leaving the Olive Garden in New York City with his then-girlfriend, Mia Goth. In 2015, Katy Perry celebrated her 31st birthday at the popular restaurant—and even Instagrammed it to show her appreciation for the chain. Plus, rumor has it that professional football player Robert Griffin III dines there, too—he’s even signed some autographs in the parking lot.

4. You Can Get Unlimited Never-ending Pasta for Just $100

Olive Garden runs a promotion each year called the Never Ending Pasta Pass, which allows customers to eat as much pasta as they want during an eight-week period for just $100. It was reported that one man ate more than $1,500 worth of pasta with his $100 pass. The catch? Only a relative few are up for grabs; this year, it was 22,000. If you want the pass, be quick, because they typically sell out online in less than one second. Really.

5. Olive Garden Offers a Trip to Italy for $200

Yes, you read that right. In addition to the Pasta Pass, Olive Garden offers an eight-day trip to Italy for a few lucky customers (plus one guest each) with its Pasta Passport. Hotel, airfare, transportation and three meals per day are included, plus tours of various parts of the country. If you thought the 22,000 pasta passes sold out quickly, get this: Each year, Olive Garden puts just 50 Pasta Passports up for sale.

6. Jimmy Fallon Now Owns an Olive Garden Tagline

Remember the line, “When you’re here, you’re family,” from the last two seconds of old Olive Garden commercials? Well, now it belongs to Jimmy Fallon. Olive Garden dropped the catchy tagline in 2012 for a new ad campaign, and when Jimmy Fallon heard the news, he asked if he could have the phrase. Olive Garden President Dave George appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show to sign over the rights on-air.

This Italian-American favorite clearly offers more than just bottomless breadsticks. Next time, we’re asking for more breadsticks…and raspberry sauce.

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Julia Mullaney
Julia Mullaney is a writer, blogger and self-proclaimed macaroni and cheese connoisseur based in New Jersey. She is currently a health & fitness writer for Cheat Sheet and previously worked as the editorial manager of Edible Jersey Magazine. Her work has been published in Rachael Ray Every Day, Art Quench, RMagazine and Edible Jersey. She is the author of Man, you can Cook!, a cookbook full of simple recipes for men who consider the kitchen to be uncharted land. In her spare time, she also runs a food blog full of original, easy recipes. Chow down at simplydeliciousblog.com or on Instagram at @simplydeliciousblogger.