Everyone's rightfully goofing on Chipotle today for unveiling a line of cups and bags featuring insta-literature from the likes of Toni Morrison and George Saunders. Now, I have no issue with restaurant chains scrawling stuff on their packaging. Cook Out could post entire passages from Leviticus on their shakes (I'm pretty sure they do anyway), and I would still gladly suck them dry. But there's an inhuman amount of smarm to this particular campaign. I'll let author and vegetarian and esteemed writererererer Jonathan Safran-Foer explain the logic behind his involvement:
I mean, I wouldn't have done it if it was for another company like a 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.
Obviously, Chipotle's current widespread popularity can be partially attributed to a massive infusion of capital from… DUN DUN DUN DUNNNNN… McDonald's. (They divested in 2006, but still.) Though there's something much more insufferable to this quote than shitty fact-checking. It's the idea that Safran-Foer is somehow using this particular bit of corporate synergy as a way of GIVING BACK to the world. "Here you are, poor little people. It's my writing! YOU'RE WELCOME."
Think about how arrogant you have to be to put your writing on a soda cup (FYI, soda will kill you) from a burrito joint (a chicken burrito from Chipotle has 1,300 calories), and then calling it "democratic and good." As if some poor bastard out there will be like, "Well, my town couldn't afford to keep its library open. THANK GOD FOR THIS CHIPOTLE CUP [dies of heart disease from eating too much guacamole.]"
It gets worse. The Chipotle bags include inspirational (BARF) quotes from these writers, including this one from Saunders:
Hope that, in the future, all is well, everyone eats free, no one must work, all just sit around feeling love for one another.
That's a nice little hippie-dippy sentiment on its own. Roger Sterling's daughter probably ran off with it last week. But put that shit on a fast-food bag—even a fast-food joint that humanely slaughters its Niman Ranch pigs and sings them soft lullabies while running a blade across their throats—and it becomes completely INSANE. Why is the place that charges me $8 for a burrito and asks its employees to, you know, WORK, telling me to daydream about it not doing any of those things? Why would I want to live in a world where no one works and people don't do anything? That would suck. Fucking commies.
This is Silicon Valley in a bag. It's regular-old commerce gussied up like runway food and presented to you as some kind of noble humanitarian effort. Why not just say you did this for money? Is it so fucking hard? There's nothing crass or ignoble about licensing your work for money. The ambition to make money is what drives many people to do great things (evil things as well, but great things like building cars and boats and shit too!). The crassness comes when you try to fool people into believing this is some kind of exercise in burrito-funded utopianism. Lunch is lunch, and it doesn't need to be more than lunch.
And you know what? Chipotle's food isn't even that good. Chipotle has skated by for years on the fact that it isn't Taco Bell. But compared to your local Mexican restaurant, Chipotle is garbage. The burrito insides are lukewarm. There's always one bite that's all sour cream. Half the shit is rice if you get rice. It's not that great. It's definitely not worth waiting in line for an hour to eat there with 90 other office workers who view Chipotle as the be-all-end-all of upscale shopping-plaza cuisine.
So fuck you, Chipotle. Fuck you and your overpriced diarrhea torpedoes and the overly earnest fart-sniffers you hired to pimp them out. Next time, just put a maze on the bag.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy Drew's new Kindle Single, The Rover, through Amazon.
Illustration by Sam Woolley.
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