Eating in at Chipotle, I'm usually munching on a black bean taco as pretty damn decent music plays in the background. (On more than one occasion, I've held up my smartphone to identify a song that I later downloaded.) I have yet to try the tofu-filled tacos and burritos, which were rolled out nationwide last year with much fanfare. But judging by the publicity photos, they look delicious.
Chipotle's newest initiative involves its food containers: paper cups and carryout bags are now covered with literature written by well-known authors. Called the "Cultivating Thought" author series, the initiative was spearheaded by Jonathan Safran Foer, the successful novelist behind Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. His nonfiction work Eating Animals, which smartly argues the case for vegetarianism using the author's personal transition to this dietary change to propel the narrative, is among my favorite books.
According to an interview in Vanity Fair, Foer "was sitting at a Chipotle one day, when he realized that he had nothing to do while noshing on his burrito. He had neglected to bring a book or magazine, and he didn't yet own a smartphone. Suddenly, the Eating Animals author (and vegetarian) had an idea: What if there was something truly good to read on this Chipotle cup? Or the bag?" He contacted the CEO of Chipotle, Steve Ells, sharing his idea. Ells was open to it.
Making their debut last week, the new Chipotle cups (and bags) feature prose by Foer, Toni Morrison, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Hader, Judd Apatow, Michael Lewis, Sarah Silverman, George Saunders, and other big names in the worlds of literature and entertainment. Each piece of prose was written to be read in two minutes or less. Speaking about the initiative on the Cultivating Thought website, Foer said, "We live in a world of fewer bookstores, and fewer libraries, and more and more junk asking for our attention. I couldn't be happier to be a part of a program that brings thoughtful texts, for free, to people with a few minutes to sit and think."
I think it's an inspired approach. If it gets more people to read, and introduces people to new authors, then all the better.
To read more about this newest initiative from Chipotle, go HERE and HERE.