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Chipotle introduces literary slant to cups, bags in 'Cultivating Thought' series

We’ve all done it: you sit and read the fine print or the fun little quips printed on your paper cups while eating at a restaurant, perhaps in a fit of boredom or an attempt to subvert an awkward pause. Burrito purveyor Chipotle is expanding on that idea and aims to encourage people to take a closer look at their cups by introducing some longer-form messaging in its new “Cultivating Thought” series.

Chipotle introducing "Cultivating Thought" series
Chipotle introducing "Cultivating Thought" series
Grub Street/Chipotle, Twitter

With the help of 10 “thought-leaders, authors and comedians,” the cups will be part of a new literary series and feature brief essays offset by some intricate accompanying art. Writers whose original text will appear in the line include Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker, Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, Story Prize winner George Saunders, “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin” director Judd Apatow, and SNL alum Bill Hader. Grub Street shared an image of the new cups over Twitter on Thursday. The text and art will also adorn Chipotle’s paper bags.

Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and later saw it become an Oscar-nominated film, came up with the idea and curated the content after getting the OK from CEO Steve Ells. Foer will also be a featured writer on one of the cups himself and says he was looking for an eclectic mix of people to include, ranging from funny to thought-provoking.

“It’s better to have your mind provoked, than not to. I think it’s a kind of fundamental human value,” he said in a promotional video released by the company. “The goal was to offer, you know, in very very small ways, little almost gifts for people to feel engaged.”

Vanity Fair, whose contributing editor Michael Lewis also wrote for the initiative, relayed three of the essays you can catch at your local Chipotle on Thursday.

“In the general scheme of things, in the scheme of corporate America, this is not a massive investment of any kind, but it might have really beautiful payoffs,” Foer added.