Applebee’s is bringing Cheeto-flavored wings to restaurants for a limited time
Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN Business
(CNN) — Applebee’s is bringing Cheeto-flavored wings to its restaurants.
The wings were previously available exclusively online: Earlier this year, the casual dining brand launched an online-only brand called Cosmic Wings. The Cosmic Wings menu features wings tossed in original or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos sauces and coated in Cheetos crumbles, fried Cheetos cheese bites, and more.
Boneless versions of the wings, plus the cheese bites, will be available in Applebee’s restaurants for a limited time starting on Monday.
For Applebee’s, the promotion is a way to draw in young customers and drum up attention for its virtual wings brand as competition in the space heats up.
Incorporating Cheetos into the menu is a way to “reach out to the Gen Z demo … specifically and directly,” Joel Yashinsky, chief marketing officer at Applebee’s. told CNN Business. “We see this as a great opportunity to really connect with them on flavors,” he said.
Applebee’s has been trying to woo that demographic with other flavors popular with younger customers, as well. In September, for example, it launched an exclusive Mountain Dew flavor, Dark Berry Bash, in restaurants.
These days, Applebee’s restaurants are a mostly attractive to younger guests, making it a good way to reach them directly.
“Dine-in guests have become even younger,” said Applebee’s president John Cywinski during a November analyst call. Meanwhile, Boomers — perhaps wary of exposure to Covid-19 — “have shifted their behavior” to takeout and delivery, he said.
By creating more buzz around the product in restaurants, the brand can also let more people know about Cosmic Wings at a time when customers have no shortage of wing delivery options.
DJ Khaled last week launched Another Wing, a virtual chicken wings brand that is already operating worldwide. Brinker International, another casual dining company that owns Chili’s, has its own virtual wings brand called It’s Just Wings.