Optimizing Your Panda Express Strategy

Everybody has a vice, and mine is Panda Express. Their orange chicken is impossibly delicious and definitely my favorite food on this planet. Thank god I move so often and never seem to be anywhere near one, otherwise I’d be eating there all the time.

I had to eat at Panda before writing this otherwise I wouldn't have survived searching for the screenshots.
I had to eat at Panda before writing this otherwise I wouldn’t have survived searching for the screenshots.

The Panda Express at my old college campus was a place of many memories for me. It was where I first met my future wife in a study group for Dinosaurs class. I was its mayor on FourSquare before FourSquare revamped its mayorship system and made it stupid and pointless. I was there for all their failed experiments, from paw plates to orange chicken with bacon. And it was where I learned way too many tricks to getting the most orange chicken for my money, since at face value it might be considered overpriced.

Panda sells its food in two-entree or three-entree plates (or bowls but I don’t get bowls). Every receipt has this on the back:

Amy T
Picture by Amy T

It’s not hard to make a quick phone call, answer a few questions and get your five-digit code beginning with the letter L, but I discovered that pressing zero skips the interview questions and just reads you your code. But if you’re really impatient, it’s even quicker to pick a receipt out of the trash can, write ‘L’ followed by four digits and get your free entree. I always made the honey-walnut shrimp my third entree, since otherwise it’s an extra dollar.

But you’re not done yet. Talk to the cashier and let them know you’re getting a free large drink with the purchase of a three-entree plate. Technically this deal does not apply when using the coupon code, so its hit or miss whether they allow it. Also some locations just don’t have this drink special at all.

Last but not least I always ask for a free sample just to get one more shrimp. Plus it comes with a toothpick and I prefer eating orange chicken with a toothpick because I’m weird.

So there you go. On a good day I can walk away with three entrees (and a large drink and an extra shrimp) for the price of two.

Other Editor’s note: What the hell is this place and why are there none of them where I live? Seriously you guys get all the cool fast food chains, all I get is McDonalds and fricking Taco Bell. Neither of them are even technically food.

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