Check your grocery list twice because you might have missed the latest trendy pantry item.
If you are looking for your new pandemic comfort food, then add Cheetos Mac ‘n’ Cheese to your list. Beginning on Saturday, the new PepsiCo product will come in three flavors: Bold & Cheesy, Flamin’ Hot and Cheesy Jalapeño. Cheetos Mac ‘n’ Cheese will be sold at Walmart in boxes and single-serve cups.
Because of the pandemic, new consumer habits have emerged as more people are eating at home. To capitalize on this and to break into a new category, PepsiCo married two of its brands: Quaker, which makes pasta under its Pasta Roni label, and Frito-Lay, the producer of Cheetos.
The inspiration behind this product came from increasing sales of Cheetos, Tostitos and Fritos. The three brands all grew by double digits in the second quarter, according to the company.
“We’re seeing tremendous growth in meal solutions” like Rice-A-Roni, said Kristin Kroepfl, chief marketing officer for Quaker Foods North America. Because customer research shows that most people will continue to eat at home even after the pandemic passes, Kroepfl added that, “We believe there’s a long-term opportunity here.”
The idea for a Cheetos mac and cheese product emerged back in January. A “Cheeto cult” consisting of die-hard Cheetos fans posted recipes online that incorporate Cheetos in unique ways. Because fans were already making their own versions of a Cheetos mac and cheese, PepsiCo saw the idea as a viable business opportunity.
Cheetos has also gone beyond the standard chip; last year, the brand partnered with KFC for a limited time on a Cheetos sandwich. Ice cream shops sprinkle Cheeto dust on their ice cream, pizza shops tops their pies with the snacks, and dessert shops even incorporate Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into their pastries like macarons and doughnuts.