Americans Will Pay More for a Flour Wrap Than for a Tortilla

Despite the fact that they're naturally mortal enemies, wraps and burritos have a lot more in common than enthusiasts of either would probably care admit. Sure, wraps are the thing you eat when you're forced to go to Subway and don't have the stomach for one of their sandwiches and burritos are the thing that makes you sleep after you've drank too much cheap beer from plastic cups. And, yes, burritos are filled with a delicious nectar of the gods, and wraps are generally filled with hopes and dreams of cranky people on a breadless diet. But they're both rolled together with the same thin, papery bread product — the tortilla. So why do grocery stores charge more for products destined to be rolled into "wraps"?

The wrap/tortilla price discrepancy (which promises to be the Watergate of our time) was discovered by John Scalzi, who found that he had two identical Mission Food food products that were sold by the same brand but packaged slightly differently. One was called "wraps," and the other, "tortillas." After doing some sniffing around, he discovered that not only were they identical products, they were charged non-identical prices and sold in non-identical quantities. The wraps were sold in packages of 6, whereas the tortillas were sold in packs of 8. And the 6 pack of wraps was more expensive than the 8 pack of tortillas, which means that buying wraps meant paying 19 cents more per round thing of bendy bread product.

Lisa Wade at Sociological Images thinks this is the result of Mission Foods realizing it can charge people more for "wraps" than it can for "tortillas," because "wraps" sound fancier than "burritos," even though they're similar.

The possibility of wrap/burrito confusion had never occurred to me until a couple of years ago, when I was still working at my old job at a very large, very conservative bank. After consuming a catered lunch provided by Chipotle, a fiftysomething coworker approached me in a blissful daze and couldn't shut up at how delicious "those wrap things" were. "And the sauce!" he opined. It was like he'd experienced sledding or fellatio for the first time. I thought I'd stumbled across the last adult in America to eat a burrito and know that it's not technically called a "Mexican wrap," but maybe he was onto something.

[Sociological Images]