Woman talking(l+r), Chipotle sign(c)

John Hanson Pye/Shutterstock @loreniannucci/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘What’s in your cup? You didn’t pay for that’: Woman says Chipotle worker poured out her drink after she filled ‘water cup’ with Diet Coke

'Cup is probably worth more than the soda.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Dec 20, 2023   Updated on Dec 20, 2023, 3:35 pm CST

If there was a list of crimes ranked by severity, a restaurant customer pouring fountain soda for themselves after specifically asking for a water-only cup would probably rank dead last. Many who engage in the practice also hardly expect an employee to confront them about the low-level ‘crime.’

A TikToker named Lo (@loreniannucci), however, learned that there are workers who care about this sort of thing. And while she didn’t have the police roll up on her for a trip to Coca-Cola jail, she did learn not to pull the wool over a Chipotle worker’s eyes when it came to pouring fountain soda in a water cup.

She talked about her experience in a viral TikTok clip that’s accrued over 44,000 views, and it seems that because of the harrowing experience she had with the gnarly Chipotle worker who wasn’t about that soda-stealing life, she’s never pilfered pop again.

@loreniannucci never did it again #viral #storytime #trending #relatable #chipotle ♬ original sound – Lo

“A Chipotle worker absolutely humbled me for putting Diet Coke in my water cup,” Lo begins the video.

“Technically yes this is stealing and I would never do this today, but back then I was like an idiot teenager,” she continues. “I was like 16, I went to Chipotle with my friends and I ordered my burrito. The girl helps me out. She’s like, ‘Do you wanna drink today?’ And I say, ‘No, no drink. Can I just get a water cup?'”

Lo says the worker then reluctantly handed her a water cup, noting that she seemed “kind of already pissed off.” The TikToker says she thought she was going to easily slide past the watchful eyes of any Chipotle employees keeping tabs on customer soda fountain habits.

“It’s really busy so I figured nobody would even notice, so I sit down with my friends, take my water cup, and I go to the fountain and I fill it up with Diet Coke,” she says. “[I] literally looked around to make sure nobody was looking…nobody seemed like they were.”

However, she soon learned that even though she thought she was being slick, she wasn’t. As soon as she returned to her table with her water-cup Diet Coke, the Chipotle worker appeared.

“She goes, ‘What’s in your cup?’ And I said, ‘uhh, uhh,'” Lo explains. “She goes, ‘You didn’t pay for that!’ And I go, ‘What do you mean?’ She goes, ‘You got a water cup. You put water in a water cup.'”

Lo says she understands that she was in the wrong, but did not expect such a wild reaction.

“I get it, it’s totally wrong, totally on me, but I’ve never seen somebody react this way,” she says. “Not generalizing, but I feel like if you work a part-time job at Chipotle, you probably can’t really afford to buy a Diet Coke either, so I’m like, why are you getting on me… It’s a big corporation…I don’t know.”

The TikToker then shares how intimidated she was by the worker which is understandable as she was a teenager caught stealing at the time.

“Obviously, I’m scared of this girl ’cause she’s aggressive in my face, and I’m like, ‘Oh my Gosh, I’m so sorry,'” Lo recalls. “She takes my Diet Coke, walks over to the fountain, dumps the entire thing out, and goes, ‘Do you want some water?'”

Lo told her she didn’t want any water, and she and her friends quickly took their food and left.

While Lo acknowledges that taking self-serve soda without paying for it is technically stealing, it’s understandable why many folks consider it a low-level crime. The profit margins on fountain beverages are pretty insane; it’s around the 85%-90% mark. Oftentimes, the cups restaurants reserve for water are usually of a smaller size, so even if someone did fill it up with another beverage: how much could they possibly take in one go?

Even though it seems like many employees would rather turn a blind eye, or alert customers in a less intense manner that while they know what they did, they will let it slide if they understand that they’ve got to pay for soda if they want a soda next time.

However, there have been incidents where restaurant workers have alerted the authorities to the nefarious machinations of soda thieves. One man nabbed a cup of free carbonated fountain syrup juice at an Arby’s, and upon being followed outside by an employee who told him he wasn’t allowed back in their establishment for the offense, the soda thief tried to kick him. That’s when the worker called the cops, who found the guy hiding out in a Denny’s bathroom.

Another man, 18-year-old Cody Morris, ordered at the McDonald’s drive-thru with his friends, getting three cups of water as part of their meal. They purportedly dumped the water cups out and went inside to fill up with fountain drinks instead, which perturbed the manager who demanded the drinks be returned. Morris refused to do so, so the manager rang up the police. Morris tried fleeing the scene but ended up hitting the manager with his vehicle two times during his escape attempt. The young soda stealer ended up in police custody but was ultimately released on a $2,500 bond.

@loreniannucci never did it again #viral #storytime #trending #relatable #chipotle ♬ original sound – Lo

When it comes to Chipotle in particular, several online communities, like Reddit, talk about soda fountain theft and whether or not workers really care if someone does it. Opinions on the matter are mixed according to the above-linked post, but it seems that even Chipotle has a sense of humor about the act. In 2022, the chain released a Water Cup scented candle, which features a wax-holding container designed to look exactly like one of the chain’s water cups. The candle’s aroma? Lemonade—which shows the brand is well aware of customers using water cups for a fountain beverage.

One TikToker who responded to Lo’s post highlighted a “sneaky” way that they, as a McDonald’s employee, got to mess with and humble folks who may be attempting to put a fountain drink inside of a water cup. “At McDonald’s I LOOVED pushing the button that SHUTS off the soda machine when I see teens get soda In their water cup & they get all confused why it’s not working & I walk up to them,” they wrote.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Chipotle via email and Lo via TikTok comment for further information.

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*First Published: Dec 20, 2023, 12:00 pm CST