Chipotle to Feature Writing by Toni Morrison, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Others on Cups and Bags
May 19, 2014
After sitting in Chipotle with nothing to read while eating, novelist Jonathan Safran Foer decided to contact Steve Ells, Chipotle CEO, and make a suggestion. In an email to the executive, Foer wrote, “I bet a shitload of people go into your restaurants every day, and I bet some of them have very similar experiences, and even if they didn’t have that negative experience [of not having anything to read], they could have a positive experience if they had access to some kind of interesting text…wouldn’t it be cool to just put some interesting stuff on [your bags and cups]? Get really high-quality writers of different kinds, creating texts of different kinds that you just give to your customers as a service.” Foer, who met Ells while writing Eating Animals, was unsure of how the idea would resonate. Ells loved the concept and began developing it further.
Starting in mid-May, Chipotle bags and cups have short works written by Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Michael Lewis. According to Foer, Chipotle, who has branded the initiative Cultivating Thought, did not get involved in the editing process. Foer says, “I tried to put together a somewhat eclectic group, in terms of styles. I wanted some that were essayistic, some fiction, some things that were funny, and somewhat thought provoking.”
Foer had some reservations regarding the project, given that he doesn’t eat meat and Chipotle serves it, as well as the fact that he normally doesn’t collaborate with big business or marketing endeavors. He decided however, that this project’s benefits were too many to ignore: “I wouldn’t have done it if it was for another company like McDonald’s, but what interested me is 800,000 Americans of extremely diverse backgrounds having access to good writing. A lot of those people don’t have access to libraries, or bookstores. Something felt very democratic and good about this.”
The writing that is to appear on Chipotle’s cups and bags can also be found at Vanity Fair.
Source: Vanity Fair