March 14, 2022

GoPuff and the Cost of Instant Delivery

It’s not delivery, it’s the dumpster.

Nora and Scott take a closer look at how instant delivery services like GoPuff operate with reporter Tom Dotan, who covers Uber, DoorDash, Instacart, and the gig economy for Business Insider. Tom has been reporting on GoPuff for several months, and one of his recent investigations uncovers the company’s food waste: How Gopuff's operational chaos left pallets of food to spoil outside warehouses around the country.

Hosts: Nora Ali & Scott Rogowsky
Producer: Bella Hutchins
Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus
Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder
Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop
Director of Audio: Alan Haburchak
VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer

Full transcript for this episode below. 


Tom Dotan: This idea of the 15-minute delivery window is kind of like an invented need. There wasn't a period before this where we were like, "Man, I would love to order through Instacart, but the fact that it's not getting to me in 15 minutes just completely makes the service useless." And our attention and our patience for delivery apparently keeps getting shorter as far as these companies are concerned. I mean, we used to order our stuff on Amazon and it took a week and we were like, "Yeah, that seems reasonable. I just bought it and they have to ship it on UPS. A week seems fine." And then it got to be two days with Prime. And then it was later in the day with Instacart, and then now with this class of companies, it's like, "Yeah, man, if it's not getting to me in 15 minutes, I'm going to be super pissed off."

Nora Ali: For Morning Brew, this is Business Casual. The podcast that reveals the unexpected business story behind everything. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you conversations with creators, thinkers, and innovators who can tell us what it all means and why we should care. Now let's get down to business in 15 minutes or less. Nora it's delivery time.

Nora Ali: It is delivery time. Have you used delivery services? Of course you have.

Scott Rogowsky: You know what?

Nora Ali: No?

Scott Rogowsky: I have. I'm not a big delivery guy. In the pandemic I did Amazon Fresh Direct, or whatever, you know, their food delivery thing once and it was so wasteful in terms of how many boxes they use, and bags they used to pack. I took a photo of it and posted it because I was just disgusted by the waste. And that's the last time I've done any grocery delivery, because as we learn in this episode, there is a lot of waste happening, especially with these instant delivery companies. Not just on the materials used, but the food itself, and these employees not being treated well. So the whole thing to me rubs me the wrong way, the whole industry. How about you?

Nora Ali: Yeah, I am an avid user of delivery, but this notion of 15- minute instant delivery is interesting because as our guest had pointed out, it's not really a need that we had until these companies created the need. And as you know, I used to work in e-commerce, and we were trying to innovate on what is the next generation of grocery delivery? And the main thing you end up zoning in on is speed, because what else is there? You can't really win on price, otherwise you're going to be a loss-making company forever and ever. So you try to win on speed, and customer experience, and it is wasteful, to your point.

Scott Rogowsky: And then there's an article that was published in February on Insider that we didn't even discuss with Tom about how one of these deliveries services, Gorillas, they were touting 10-minute deliveries. That was their big competitive advantage. And then they tweaked it to be up to an hour in February. So even when the whole premise is based on speedy delivery, they're realizing, well, they can't actually deliver on the delivery.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: And the whole thing is falling apart.

Nora Ali: Yeah. So today we're learning about what it takes, everything behind the scenes of these rapidly growing grocery store delivery companies, specifically like Gopuff, we zoned in on that one, and the challenges that come with the promise of instant delivery of anything you might need. And we sat down with a Business Insider senior tech correspondent, Tom Dotan, who covers delivery services like Gopuff, and the gig economy. He's also the host of the podcast Dead Cat, which is about Silicon Valley. And one of Tom's recent Business Insider articles is titled "How Gopuff's Operational Chaos Left Pallets of Food to Spoil Outside Warehouses Around the Country."

Scott Rogowsky: Tom, to set the stage here, can just give us the backstory on Gopuff?

Tom Dotan: So Gopuff was started by two buddies at Drexel University in Philly, and it was dreamed up as a way to deliver kind of party supplies. I mean beer and hookah accessories mostly to people in the Drexel campus rapidly. And then, once you've had your beer and your hookah you probably wanted something to eat. And so they kind of layered on snacks to that and it kind of grew into, it was initially kind of a college-oriented supply delivery business into kind of a convenience store delivery business. The lead user of it for most of its life, and maybe until now, is college students. And they actually had a fairly kind of measured and slow growth for a number of years. It's not the sort of crazy quick growth hockey stick type thing you see in tech, or in Silicon Valley at least, but in the last three or four years they've really turned on the heat in terms of raising money and at this point have raised upwards of two or $3 billion from investors and from what I hear are planning on going public this year. Obviously there's a lot of things that come together on trying to enter the public markets, but their ambitions are huge.

Scott Rogowsky: And this is just one of several companies now in this instant delivery space, right? There're Gorillas, JOKR, and certainly VC firms are bullish on this market. The emerging market of ultra-fast delivery startups, but as Terry Nguyen at Vox reported, they have yet to be profitable without investor help. Do you know where Gopuff is at the moment in terms of seeing a profit?

Tom Dotan: It is not currently seeing a profit, so they are not very far, as far as that goes, from their point of view. If they've been in an area for more than 18 months, so they'll move into a new region or they'll open up a new warehouse, in that period they will be profitable after 18 months. So their point is, we invest to move into a new area, we figure out our model, we get enough customers, and then during some metric, and I'm not really sure what that metric is, they are profitable. But just on an overall business level, no. And the numbers that I have heard and were reported by other outlets is that last year they burned through $500 million.

Nora Ali: And as you mentioned, there are a lot of things that could go wrong for Gopuff. And they've tried a little bit of a different model, they're vertically integrated trying to have more control in every step of the process, but walk us through, in terms of logistics, how does the system work for Gopuff, from when the customer places the order all the way until it gets delivered to their homes?

Tom Dotan: So you are sitting at home and you need Ben and Jerry's and you take out your phone and you order it through the app. And then that gets routed to one of their warehouses. They call them micro fulfillment centers. And then an employee at the warehouse goes off to the shelf and they grab the items that you order and they throw it in a bag. And the bag gets passed off to a driver, a gig worker driver who's kind of hanging in and around the warehouse, and they grab that bag and they drop it off at your house. And the company's goal is to try to deliver these things in 15 minutes or fewer. So it's as rapid as it can be.

Nora Ali: How are they able to achieve that 15-minute window, whereas the delay of very companies that we're used to of olden times don't necessarily hit those narrow windows?

Tom Dotan: Yeah, this is what's so fascinating about this whole group to me, because I was just talking to a friend about this. This idea of like the 15-minute delivery window is kind of an invented need. There wasn't a period before this where we were like, "Man, I would love to order through Instacart, but the fact that it's not getting to me in 15 minutes just completely makes the service useless." And our attention and our patience for delivery apparently keeps getting shorter as far as these companies are concerned. I mean, we used to order stuff on Amazon and it took a week and we were like, "Yeah, that seems reasonable. I just bought it and they have to ship it on UPS. A week seems fine." And then it got to be two days with Prime. And then it was later in the day with Instacart. And then now with this class of companies, it's like, "Yeah, man, if it's not getting to me in 15 minutes, I'm going to be super pissed off."

Nora Ali: Is this because there's nothing else to win on besides speed at this point? Because I mean, they're selling commodities, commoditized goods essentially.

Tom Dotan: Yeah. I would think for lack of technological innovation, and I'm not saying there isn't good technology at the core of these things, you've got to find another reason for someone to want your service if you're selling, like you're saying, a commodity. You can get Ben and Jerry's, and Funyuns, and beer, and many other services, but why would I choose to get it through Gopuff versus Instacart versus ordering it from Amazon Whole Foods that might take a day or something? And the difference is like, well, you could get it sooner. Like I said, you sort of tell people what they want before they want it and then they've decided that they've always wanted it.

Nora Ali: So dystopian.

Scott Rogowsky: It's very dystopian, disturbing. You reported in a couple of your pieces for Business Insider that the warehouses where these companies store the food before they are then delivered to the customer, it's absolute chaos at these warehouses. Let's start with the food waste. You reported that managers are often forced to discard $10 to $30,000 of food per week. How did these warehouse managers describe this phenomenon to you without getting in trouble, frankly, but was this difficult information to get out of them?

Tom Dotan: Honestly? No. I've reported on companies for a couple years now and there are certain things that you really have to push hard to get people to be transparent about or give you the full backstory on what's going on. This one relatively wasn't. And I think the reason why is people were pretty disgusted by the fact that the system, as they were describing it, was allowing for so much waste. And so you didn't have to push too hard when you would talk to a general manager or anyone who worked in these warehouses and be a like, "Hey, so do you guys also have this issue with cases of ice cream being left out in the sun and melting?" And they're like, "Oh my God, it's enraging to me that this sort of thing is happening." But how does it happen? If you talk to the managers, the people that work at these warehouses, their case is that Gopuff does not have very well run supply chain. That if you look at a brick-and-mortar store, like a Walmart, or a Target, or a CVS, they have these supply chains that have been perfected or worked on over the course of decades sometimes. Their whole business is about making sure that they get stuff from the vendors to the warehouses, to the store, as efficiently as possible and with as little waste as possible. And Gopuff is still relatively new to it. I mean, they've been around for whatever, seven years now, but the idea of ordering stuff at scale, distributing it to warehouses over the country is just a relatively new skillset for a tech company. And their awareness of how much stuff is in stock, how much stuff is on the shelves, just isn't that sophisticated, so these people say. And so the computer will be saying, hey, we need to order a new case of Simply Lemonade because our computer says it's out, but actually they have plenty of it, but there's no place to put it on the shelf. And that's the other part of it, too. If it's even less issues around inventory, than it's issues around places to put it. They just physically don't have the space inside their warehouses to put this stuff. They're stuffed to the gills with product. And then another truck comes and it offloads a case of perishables, frozen foods. You've got your DiGiorno Pizzas sitting outside the warehouse and there's no freezer space to put it. And so if you're a manager and you have a million things to do, you've got to triage, "All right. I've got to make sure my orders get out on time because if my orders don't get out on time, then I'm going to get dinged because the customers will be unhappy. At the same time, I don't have enough people working in these warehouses to be able to stock the shelves. All right. I don't have time to deal with the case of DiGiorno Pizza that just got delivered outside the warehouse. Let me just sit that, leave it there while I deal with other stuff." And then three hours later you've got to toss it because it thawed out and it's no good now.

Scott Rogowsky: It's not delivery, it's the dumpster.

Tom Dotan: Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: That's the new phrase for DiGiorno.

Nora Ali: Exactly. All right. Let's take a very quick break. More with Tom when we return. Tom, more on this issue of waste, you had reported that Gopuff has this strict policy against giving workers extra food that would otherwise be thrown out. You quoted one manager saying, "It was heartbreaking to say, I could not give it to you. You're on food stamps, but I can't." What's the purpose behind some of these rules? What is the intent here?

Tom Dotan: Yeah, that's a tough one. I always try in these stories to at least try to understand the logic of it. I think maybe Gopuff's point of view is that they don't want to encourage shoplifting. They don't want employees to think that there's a culture of taking stuff off the shelves if you're hungry, and basically stealing it, which from what I've heard happens anyway. It just happens at all public stores. And so I think that's the argument here. As to why they're not donating it, like stuff that would otherwise be expired, or letting them take it home? Yeah. You kind of got me on that one. I don't quite have a good answer to it, but look, let's just assume best intentions or something on the part of the company. I think it's just that they would maybe, if they had the systems in place, rather donate it to a food bank rather than just basically tell employees, "You can just start taking stuff off the shelves." Like I said, I have a tough time kind of seeing that point of view on it.

Nora Ali: It just seems like a piece of the jigsaw puzzle they're not worried about at this point because they're trying to grow, and scale, and get products to the customers at a cost.

Tom Dotan: You know, I do think there is, when you cover tech for a couple of years you do see that the mentality that is encouraged by the investors is to grow as quickly as possible. And you can figure out profit on down the road. And I think they really do expect to iron these things out as time goes on. And in fairness to the company, they say that they have set up programs to donate food, and their line to me, I think, in the story was that our waste level is below the average of food waste compared to other retail stores. I couldn't quite stand that up and they didn't give me specific figures that I could crosscheck, and just anecdotally talking to managers at these warehouses, a lot of them came from retail stores. They had been a store manager of a CVS, or a Walmart, or district managers at a Best Buy or something like that. So they know what it looks like from that side of the aisle. And yeah, they said it seemed egregious, so.

Scott Rogowsky: You wrote another article titled, "Gopuff Stocks Its Warehouses with Items Purchased from Instacart, Spending Tens of Thousands Per Month on the Service." Why do warehouse workers need to outsource so much product?

Tom Dotan: So Gopuff has this program internally, it's called Never Out of Stock. And it ensures that for customers, if they're looking through the app for stuff, certain items like eggs, and bacon, and milk will always be available. This is the argument on the part of the managers that I talked to, because the supply chain is so unreliable they do run out of stuff, or they fear they may run out of it if they don't get a shipment coming in soon enough. And so to avoid having any out-of-stock items they basically send their employees to the grocery store or with Instacart, they get Instacart workers to go shop at the grocery stores and deliver the stuff to them. And they charge it to the corporate credit cards in order to get it moving to an extent that they max out their corporate credit cards fairly regularly. And like I mentioned in the story, Instacart's like, "Why the hell is this one credit card ordering so much on here? This seems somewhat fraudulent. Let's lock out the credit card."

Nora Ali: Hmm. I mean, these are issues that we've seen in the delivery space in the gig economy, but it feels a little bit exacerbated with Gopuff. You had written about this unusual structure around Gopuff, where it's VC backed, it's a warehouse, it's a retailer. It's also a delivery company that relies to some extent on gig workers. How does this structure introduce new challenges that maybe we haven't seen before and is incompatible with this growth above all approach?

Tom Dotan: Like you laid it out, you have different tiers, all of which individually are things that you've seen tech companies do before. There's obviously gig worker companies all over the place, but then you have the retail level of it, which are these warehouses, the micro-fulfillment centers that we were talking about. And you've got to get all these sides to work in harmony for this company to work. And if anyone isn't up to snuff, like if the retail is in chaos because their supply chain isn't working well, if the technology isn't very good and can't dispatch drivers accurately or efficiently, or if there are issues with the gig drivers, if they're not paying them well enough, or they can't hire enough, or it's too expensive to hire them because they all are working for DoorDash or Shipt, or Uber, then the kind of fine alchemy that needs to take place for this company to work gets completely thrown out of whack and you have all kinds of problems. And so that's why it's been such a fascinating company to write about, because as much as I've maybe highlighted some of the pitfalls and challenges and mistakes that they've made, it's pretty tough. They're definitely tackling some very difficult challenges that if you don't do it right, you end up with this of stuff that I've written about.

Scott Rogowsky: Time for another quick break, but more with Tom, when we come back. Let's talk about the employee aspect of all this. And this is an issue common across the gig economy that you cover. In the fall of 2021, hundreds of Gopuff workers began protesting across the U.S., protesting low pay, lack of transparency, and limited flexibility. What did these protests look like and how was the work stoppage resolved ultimately?

Tom Dotan: So I had been hearing rumblings about unrest among the Gopuff drivers for a couple of months. The way that Gopuff drivers are compensated is very confusing. You, as a Gopuff driver, get paid for each package that you deliver. Also, they have one-off bonuses that you get during areas of peak demand, and they want to encourage more drivers to come to the warehouses they'll say, in addition to the three bucks you get for each bag delivered, we'll also put $5 on top of it. And then there's customer tips, which anecdotally I've heard are actually pretty bad for Gopuff because a lot of times you're delivering to college students and they're cheap as hell. In addition to that, if there are periods of low demand, but you've signed up to work during a shift, which that term, in and of itself is very kind of controversial, because technically independent contractors shouldn't have shifts. If you have a shift you're kind of an employee. So that's the term the company uses. You've made yourself available during a certain period of time or something.

Scott Rogowsky: Windows.

Tom Dotan: Yeah, windows. I'm available during this window, but don't call it a shift because that would be a violation. But if there are no orders coming through, but you want to ensure that you've made some money Gopuff has what they call minimum guarantees. Just basically, if you're sitting around a parking lot and no orders are coming through, you will at least be making X amount of dollars per hour. But basically the Gopuff drivers got their minimum guarantees cut pretty substantially in the Philly region, down to around $12 or $13 an hour. The company's argument is, "Yeah, that's just the minimum guarantee with tips, with bag fees, with bonuses you'll be making way more than that. But from their point of view, they're like, "No way. You're cutting my pay. There's no other way to look at it." And so in that instance that I wrote about here, they kind of sort of organized. I mean, they're not unionized of course, so organization is pretty slap dash, but within a few warehouses, they basically blocked off entrance. So drivers park their cars in the way of the pickup location. And for at least one facility, one major facility in Philly, stopped it from functioning. Basically shut it down.

Nora Ali: It really feels like no gig economy company has figured out how to treat their gig economy workers well. You have the Ubers and the DoorDashers who are fighting legislation that are trying to protect these workers. Since you cover the gig economy as a whole, what do these workers want? What do delivery people want? And do you think Gopuff is listening to any extent in terms of how they're setting up their model?

Tom Dotan: Yeah. I mean, first of all, just to give the company's point of view on ,is Gopuff listening? They say they are, they always say they are. But their line is that the pay for Gopuff workers is actually better than average. And to be fair, I have heard from Gopuff drivers, especially ones that were doing the service in the earliest days in Philly, that said they would work crazy shifts, like 15 hours in a row or something, and make more than a $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 over the course of a weekend. So there is a way, at least in the past, to make a decent amount of money on the service. But in terms of what gig drivers want, the chief things that I hear from them are protection and reliability. So they want to ensure that when they switch on their app and are making themselves available to pick people up, or drop off groceries, that they know they'll be making a certain amount over the course of their shift that can provide them with their livelihood. A lot of them say that it's a side job for them. And so the dynamic now is interesting because these drivers... I live in California, there was a big piece of legislation that was passed a couple of years ago that was pushed by all the gig companies that basically enshrined into law the fact that, people that work for Uber, and DoorDash, and Lyft are not employees, they're gig workers. And they are not beholden to the company in any specific way, but the companies do provide them with some sort of benefits, some sort of healthcare, or money that they can spend towards healthcare. But, from at least the polls, if you want to trust them, they don't want to be employees. They are actually happy with this being some sort of gig type role, independent contractor. So it's a little difficult to discern collectively what they want. I think what they want is to make sure they make enough money while they're doing it that it was worth their time. How you go about doing that and what legislation you have that ensures income, but also freedom is kind of not been determined yet.

Scott Rogowsky: Speaking to these instant delivery services specifically, are the issues plaguing Gopuff also impacting the other companies in this space? Is this a uniquely Gopuff problem? And ultimately, do you see any one of these companies winning or are they all going to fail?

Tom Dotan: I think Gopuff is dealing with unique challenges, because of the ambition and sophistication of their business. They do want to go public this year. I don't know if it can happen. They are losing a lot of money, but not as much as Uber did. It was funny, when the numbers kind of first came out, that Gopuff burned through $500 million last year. People we're trying to make a huge deal about that. And I'm like, "Compared to Uber that's pennies." It's hard to impress me nowadays when it comes to your losses. I think they have a decent chance of making this work in the U.S., I think, if you can get a loyal customer base that is using your service enough, and maybe you can hike fees a little bit, and maybe pay drivers a little bit less, and find other avenues, revenue streams, like they're going to push advertising in their app more, which makes a lot of sense. I could see them being around for a bunch more years, maybe getting acquired. I mean, they want to be the next Amazon, so that wouldn't count as winning as far as they're concerned.

Nora Ali: Do you foresee loyalty in this space, where you're a Gopuff user through and through, you don't choose to use JOKR and the other ones, or is it going to be a case where you just open up your apps and see who has the best inventory, best prices at the time, and it's a commoditized business? What do you think?

Tom Dotan: I mean, maybe let me turn the question back to you guys. Are you in New York?

Nora Ali: Yes, I am.

Tom Dotan: Are you guys both based in New York?

Nora Ali: Scott's in LA.

Scott Rogowsky: I'm in LA.

Tom Dotan: You're in LA? Okay. So Gopuff is in LA, and they're in New York, too. Have you used the service?

Scott Rogowsky: No. There's a bodega downstairs. Right?

Tom Dotan: Right.

Scott Rogowsky: I mean, that's the other problem. These companies are trying to squeeze out the small local grocers and bodegas like, can't we give someone a break here and let these establishments operate without competition from these apps?

Tom Dotan: Yeah. The bodega thing is really interesting to me, and specifically in New York, because that's ground zero for the fight right now. Right? I mean, there's all of these companies that you mentioned that are operating there, and I think people in New York kind of do have built-in mentality of like, "I'll just go downstairs and walk around the corner and go to the bodega and pick up three things and come..." I live in San Francisco and I do that, too. And I've ordered Gopuff a couple times. They were very useful for me during the height of the Omicron, because they had a ton of tests, which is interesting that they kind of got a huge pallet of those, and that was good for them for a lot of reasons, and for people that needed them. So I don't know. I mean, the advocates, the boosters of this business say once you use it's a magical experience and you get addicted to it. Your brain kind of morphs and you start thinking, "Well, why should I go to the grocery store? I can just start making dinner, and if in the middle of it I realize I didn't have X or Y thing I'll just order it and it'll come here in 15 minutes."

Nora Ali: Like you said, creating a need that we didn't know we had. They're creating that.

Tom Dotan: Yeah. It changes your habits. But New York, from what I gather, is not going very well for any of these services. They're spending a huge amount of money. Gopuff maybe is doing slightly better, but companies like Gorillas, and JOKR, and now Getir, which is another one that's that's based there. It's not picking up the way that I think they had expected. And I think part of that is that there already is a culture of going down to a grocery store, or a bodega, and getting stuff. So I think it's a question of whether or not en masse people's habits and routines will change enough to rely on these services permanently. And Gopuff, they've now released their own in-house brands. They've done their kind of Amazon Basics for Gopuff. So they have Gopuff branded, what's called Basically, they have Gopuff branded water, and I don't know, pretzels or some shit. They have stuff that could theoretically create kind of differentiated loyalty and maybe have slightly better margins. But when it comes down to it, if I want Tonight Dough Ben and Jerry's ice cream, I just want to get it. I don't really care where it comes from. And you just want to go to the place that will have it, and I guess, as quickly as possible is the argument.

Scott Rogowsky: All right, it's time now for Quizness Casual, the Business Casual quiz. Let's get this quiz on the road with our guest, Tom Dotan, and Nora Ali. Tom, this quiz is all about the delivery industry that you've been covering, so you should do pretty well here, but you do have Nora to lean on.

Nora Ali: It's for moral support here, Tom. I'm here for you.

Scott Rogowsky: Look, sometimes Nora has got the answer and our guest declines to take it. I'm just saying that's happened in the past. So Nora knows her stuff, too. Qumero numero uno. Which of the following celebrities was named Postmates' number one customer after spending $40,000 over the course of a year? Post Malone, Kim Kardashian, Elon Musk, or Drake?

Tom Dotan: Well Post Malone would've been big back then, but I also feel like that's the joke one, because it's Postmates.

Nora Ali: Postmates.

Tom Dotan: I'm going to go between Kim or Drake. I'm assuming Elon wouldn't use Postmates.

Nora Ali: He doesn't use Postmates.

Tom Dotan: He doesn't get food delivered. He has a chef.

Nora Ali: No, of course. I was going to say Kim as well. That is what my soul is telling me. So let's lock it in. Kim Kardashian.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. Well you thought Post Malone was the joke answer? Postmates, Post Malone, it seems too cute, too clever, but it is the correct answer.

Nora Ali: Oh, shoot.

Tom Dotan: Oh.

Scott Rogowsky: Post Malone, in the year 2018 ordered about 3,000 items.

Nora Ali: Oh.

Scott Rogowsky: 660 orders across 52 cities. His go-to menu items included the Chicken Love Me Tenders, Lord of the Fries, and Really, Really good Moz Sticks from Big Daddies.

Tom Dotan: Okay.

Scott Rogowsky: Here's Q2. What is the best selling grocery item in the United States? Eggs, chips, bananas, or milk?

Tom Dotan: I think bananas.

Nora Ali: Ooh, bananas. I would... Okay. Well I guess more and more people are going vegan. So maybe not eggs and milk anymore.

Tom Dotan: Right? Who doesn't eat bananas?

Nora Ali: Yeah. Bananas are very versatile. I'd argue the most versatile of fruits. I even tweeted that once. Okay, let's do it, Tom.

Tom Dotan: Yeah.

Nora Ali: We're both feeling it. Bananas, Scott.

Scott Rogowsky: Bananas is the answer. Number one selling grocery item in the U.S. Uber Eats sold more than 25,000 pounds of bananas in the U.S. in September alone. I think the industry took a big jump after that Gwen Stefani song came out, too. So that after the B-A-N-ANAs, then bananas became number one. You got one for two. Can you make it two for three? What is the most popular order modification in the United States across these apps? No cilantro, no onions, no mushrooms, or no sour cream?

Nora Ali: My heart tells me no onions, because there're onions on more things than any of those other items.

Tom Dotan: And it's the kind of thing that someone would think that they're thinking well of others, for others wellbeing when you choose not to have onions in things. Right? Not only did I-

Nora Ali: Like on a date. Yeah.

Tom Dotan: Yeah. Yeah. It's like, "Oh I'm a good person because I chose not to get onions on this."

Nora Ali: Okay, perfect. We agree. No onions.

Scott Rogowsky: Onions, onions, onions. I like extra onions, but most people want no onions. You're correct. No onions. The most popular modification followed by, more sauce. Extra sauce-

Nora Ali: Yes.

Scott Rogowsky: ... is the second most popular. Congratulations, Tom, you got two for three. Nora, great work helping Tom out there. You pass the Quizness Casual quiz.

Tom Dotan: I'm so excited.

Scott Rogowsky: And thanks for talking with us. It's a fascinating topic, this whole industry. Yeah. I don't know why it exists, but here it is, we have it, and you're covering it. So thanks.

Tom Dotan: I'm glad it exists because it gives-

Scott Rogowsky: You something to do.

Tom Dotan: ... me something to write about.

Nora Ali: Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Dotan: Yeah. Cool. Thanks guys. That was fun.

Nora Ali: Thank you, Tom.

Scott Rogowsky: And now, BC listeners, we want to hear from you. Send us an email at, or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod, that's B-I-Z Casual Pod, with your thoughts.


Nora Ali:

You can also leave a voice memo on our website,, or give us a ring and leave us an old fashioned voicemail. Our number is 862-295-1135. As Business Casual grows we are so excited to get to know our listeners old and new. Drop us a line, and don't forget to leave your name and where you're calling or writing from so we can hear from you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Business Casual’s produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins. Additional production sound design and mixing by Daniel Markus. Alan Haburchak is the director of audio at Morning Brew. Sarah Singer's our VP of multimedia. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you go for your cheerful earful. And we'd love it if you would give us a great rating and a review.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it casual.