The newest virtual, chicken-wings restaurant concept—Applebee’s Cosmic Wings—also serves as the latest QSR promotional platform for Frito-Lay’s Cheetos.
Applebee’s announced yesterday that nearly 1,300 of its U.S. kitchens are preparing Cheetos-flavored chicken wings and side dishes under the Cosmic Wings brand, available exclusively via Uber Eats delivery.
In addition to fried Cheetos cheese bites, Cosmic Wings offers two exclusive, Cheetos-branded dipping sauces.
Having activated on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, Cosmic Wings is supporting the launch by waiving delivery fees until Feb. 28.
However, neither Cheetos nor other Frito-Lay snacks are available from Cosmic Wings or at Applebee’s locations, a Frito-Lay rep tells Marketing Daily.
Cosmic Wings is the second virtual-restaurant endeavor by Applebee’s and its parent, Dine Brands Global. Neighborhood Wings by Applebee’s had rolled out to nearly 1,000 locations by last October in a delivery-only, by exclusive arrangement with Grubhub.
Among QSR competitors, Brinker International debuted the virtual It’s Just Wings brand last summer.
Other virtual chicken entries include Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands (Tender Shack) Famous Dave’s (Hayward’s Hen House) and Logan’s Roadhouse parent SPB Hospitality (Twisted Tenders), as reported by Nation’s Restaurant News.
For Cheetos, Cosmic Wings represents a continuation of QSR partnerships that have typically been limited-time offerings.
In 2016, Taco Bell introduced a Cheetos-infused burrito while Burger King introduced a Mac n’ Cheetos dish. Three years later, KFC came out with a Cheetos Sandwich.