Looking for Jonathan Franzen and Colson Whitehead? Try Chipotle


The stories are free, but guacamole is still extra.

Fast food restaurant chain Chipotle is continuing its quest to make sure diners have something to read while they scarf down their burritos. The company has announced 11 new contributors to its “Cultivating Thought” series, including Jonathan Franzen, Colson Whitehead and nine other authors.

Chipotle has been printing stories on its paper bags and drink cups since last year, after novelist Jonathan Safran Foer suggested the idea to company founder and chairman Steve Ells. Foer thought of the concept when he found himself without reading material at one of the chain’s restaurants. (We’re guessing Foer, a famous vegetarian, ordered the sofritas.)

The new bags and cups should be in stores on Monday. The other new participating authors are Mary Roach, Laura Esquivel, Laura Hillenbrand, M.T. Anderson (just longlisted for the National Book Award), Lois Lowry, Tom Perrotta, Sue Monk Kidd, Anthony Doerr and Stephen J. Dubner.


Foer serves as the curator of the series, and one of the new contributors cited his involvement as the reason they signed on. “Freakonomics” co-author Dubner said he agreed to the project because “Jonathan asked! I love his writing and respect his mind.”

Others had more mercenary reasons for participating. “Purity” author Franzen explained his involvement with characteristic honesty: “Honestly, Chipotle store credit was a decisive factor. Chipotle is my go-to fast food restaurant. I also admire its wish to be a good corporate citizen.”

Previous participating authors in the series include Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Jeffrey Eugenides and Judd Apatow.

Chipotle also announced a new sweepstakes beginning Monday to go along with the new batch of stories. For 10 days, the company is inviting readers to summarize one of the stories in 103 characters are less. Five hundred entrants will win an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, while three people will be awarded the holy grail of one year of free burritos. (The contest’s official rules make no mention of guacamole, so the winners will still be on the hook for that extra charge.)

Twitter: @michaelschaub