Both Chipotle and Panera Bread are big restaurant chains with lots of loyal customers. It’s only natural that the two competitors would take swings at one another.
Chipotle just announced last month that the burrito chain has made their tortillas to be additive free and now announced that it has even made an online game called “Spot the Imposter.”
So what does this have to do with Panera Bread? The game could be a dig at the competing restaurant chain as they use natural additives in its menu items.
Chipotle’s new name asks customers to pick between Chipotle’s preservative-free ingredients and “industrial additives.”
The rewards include mobile coupons for free foods like chips and guacamole and the chance to win other foods.
“At Chipotle, our real ingredients have nothing to hide,” Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief marketing and development officer.
“Other restaurants are trying to make their ingredients sound better by switching artificial colors, flavors and preservatives for friendlier sounding additives that serve the same purpose.”
He denied that this was a dig at Panera Bread and said, “We have not singled out Panera or any individual restaurant company. This is a move that is occurring across the category.”
“This isn’t about Panera, it is about an industry that has been focused on removing artificial additives and replacing them with “natural” counterparts, which are often synthesized in the same way as artificial versions and have nothing to do with the ingredient they replace,” he continued. “Take ‘natural beef flavor,’ for example, which is often used in fast food french fries. While it is ‘natural,’ and contains nothing artificial, it is generally synthesized from plants and has nothing at all to do with beef.”
Well, the game may not be directly aimed at Panera Bread, but let’s see if Panera Bread responds.
According to Panera CEO Ron Shaich, Chipotle CEO Steve Ells and him are friendly and have also worked together before.
Disclaimer: We have no position in Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ: PNRA) and Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) and have not been compensated for this article.