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Cheez_It_Diner_Burger___Milkshake_Horizontal.jpg Photo courtesy of Kellanova
The Deluxe Cheez-It milkshake and Cheezburger.

Why Cheez-It is exploring more foodservice opportunities

Kellanova has a dedicated culinary team working with partners in developing menu items from its snacking portfolio.

If it seems like you’ve seen Kellanova’s Cheez-It brand popping up more in the restaurant space, that’s because it has been. Amid a partnership with Taco Bell in which the Cheez-It Crunchwrap Supreme and Tostada are making their way onto national menus, the snack brand also recently launched an actual Cheez-It Diner in Woodstock, New York, which was available for a week in late May.

And, as you might expect, the diner featured a menu riddled with Cheez-Its, including a Deluxe Cheez-It milkshake, featuring vanilla ice cream blended with crackers; an extra Cheezburger, topped with an extra-large cracker, similar to Taco Bell’s creations; the Big Grilled Cheez, cracker-coated Texas toast filled with pimento and surrounded by a cracker crust; Cheezy Chicky Tendies, chicken tenders breaded in Cheez-It crackers; and Mac & Cheez-It, pasta baked in white cheddar Cheez-It cracker sauce with cracker crumble on top. There were also sides, including Cheez-It fries (tossed in ground crackers) and a Cheez-It Biscu-it (with layers of crackers), as well as a sweet-n-salty Cheezcake, featuring a Cheez-It cracker pie crust topped with caramel and extra-large crackers.

So, why exactly is a prolific snack brand extending its footprint into restaurants? According to Cara Tragseiler, senior brand director, the company is simply following its fans’ lead.

“Cheez-It is always leaning into unique ways for our fans to enjoy our crackers and we are inspired by the creative recipes fans have been sharing with us on social media for years. Bringing the Cheez-In Diner and our partnership with Taco Bell to life are examples of ways we’ve given fans a fun take on making absurdly delicious creations with our crackers, and we’re excited to see where else activations like these can take both Cheez-It and Kellanova as a whole,” she said.

Kellanova, which spun out of Kellogg Company last year alongside its cereal business, has its own dedicated culinary team to work with partners in developing menu items from its snacking portfolio, which also includes Pringles, Rice Krispie Treats, Pop-Tarts, and more. Notably, the company’s Woodstock popup is not a new idea; a Cheez-It outpost opened last year in a former gas station in Joshua Tree, California. For both popups, Tragseiler said Kellanova worked closely with its agency partners and local communities to make the activations come to life.

The Taco Bell partnership also goes back a few years; the chain first tested the creations in 2022. Both companies have been involved in marketing, food science, research and development and culinary functions ahead of launch.

“This collaborative effort required extensive resources and expertise from multiple departments, making sure the new menu items meet high standards of quality and consumer appeal,” she said.

And, though the popups are fun, awareness-driving campaigns, it’s that Taco Bell collaboration that really elevates the positioning of the Cheez-It brand’s menu potential, given the chain’s consumer appeal and the items’ longer availability.

“The partnership is a celebration of consumer enthusiasm for familiar flavors in new and exciting formats,” Tragseiler said. “By combining two powerhouse brands, this partnership taps into an overlapping customer demographic and generates genuine interest and buzz for both Kellanova and Taco Bell.”

She adds there is strong demand for such innovative collaborations, as evidenced by the Cheez-It Crunchwrap being Taco Bell’s most popular test item of 2022. She also said there is plenty of demand for “absurdly” cheesy menu items featured at the Cheez-It Diner and hinted at more to come.

“Kellanova wants to show how snack brands, like Cheez-It, can create unique foodservice experiences and transform menus. For Cheez-It specifically, we are always looking for unexpected ways for our fans to enjoy their favorite go-to snack,” Tragseiler said. “It’s a fun experience for fans to see their favorite snack on a menu. The space is ripe. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what else we have up our sleeve.”

Contract Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

TAGS: Menu Marketing
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