The Surprising Number Of Breadsticks Olive Garden Serves Each Year

Anyone who's eaten at Olive Garden knows it's all about the breadsticks at the casual Italian restaurant. Sure, the pasta options are great, but the appetizers have a way of stealing the spotlight. In fact, Olive Garden's salad is so good, they're selling the dressing and croutons at Aldi (via Delish). The starters must be pretty popular, considering Olive Garden made unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks a menu item, too. But the bottom line is that the restaurant's garlicky breadsticks are just the right accompaniment to anything you order. 

If you've ever wondered why you always have to ask for more breadsticks when you eat at Olive Garden, it has a lot to do with how many breadsticks Olive Garden serves every year. There's even a formula they use for the number of breadsticks per basket per table. The servers at Olive Garden are taught to bring one breadstick per person at the table plus an extra breadstick in a basket. After that, more breadsticks are served only after the customers ask (via Insider).

Olive Garden sells hundreds of millions of breadsticks every year

The number of breadsticks supplied at each table has a lot to do with avoiding waste. Based on 2014 figures, Olive Garden serves between 675 million and 700 million breadsticks in a year, which requires the chefs to do a ton of baking. When the restaurant chain realized many were going to waste, they changed the bread basket formula to one per person plus one.

Though many customers still ask for more after their first allotment of a single, scrumptious breadstick, the chain — and the customers — would save a lot if they did stick to only one. Olive Garden could save around $5 million if every customer only ate one piece of bread. And by only eating one of those 140-calorie breadsticks, customers would save nearly 3.3 billion calories (via Taste of Home). While the chain might have to provide more breadsticks for customers, you might want to reconsider the second or third bread basket for the sake of your own waistline.