FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver Used to Run a Burrito Blog

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The burrito bracketologist. Photo: Christopher Anderson/ Magnum

Two billion dollars spent on it and no one noticed this until the day after the election? Apparently. Nate Silver, the New York Times statistician (of FiveThirtyEight blog) whose predictions reached Wine Spectator-ish absurdities of precision ("Based on his necktie, I have upgraded President Obama's chances of being reelected to 77.83% from 77.82%") but proved, in the end, to be spookily accurate, was a baseball stat geek before a political one, but before that, he was ... a Chicago burrito stat geek, a fact buried in an Advertising Age feature on him. Wait, what stats do burritos produce, you ask? Well, none, unless you generate them, which he did at a blog called the Burrito Bracket in 2007, comparing burritos and other Mexican fast food in his then-Wicker Park vicinity in an NCAA-style competition.

Tragically, his last post talks about how busy he's gotten at work ... and so the bracket and the blog ends with the top two in two divisions (La Pasadita and De Pasada) never actually going head to head. Which is like if Obama and Romney never actually got around to having the election. Still, many of these places are around now and familiar to Chicagoans, so it's amusing to look through even five years later; you can also hear him talking about it on the podcast "Outside the Loop Radio" here from 2007. [Advertising Age, h/t Daniel Shumski]