This year got boozy for several unlikely food brands. Eggo and Doritos made food-flavored alcoholic drinks that appealed to some more than others. Still surprising but somewhat more sensible: Kentucky Fried Chicken launched a rum drink to go with its wings. And those are just a few of the handful of the household brands to launch boozy beverages in 2023.
Getting into the alcohol business isn’t an altogether new concept for food and beverage companies or restaurant chains. Arby’s began selling two french-fry-flavored vodkas (curly fry and crinkle fry) in 2021, and Oreos made a red wine to eat with its Thins. In 2022, Hardee’s partnered with a brewing company to create a beer made with its breakfast biscuits, Hellman’s created a mayonnaise flavored eggnog, Velveeta launched a cheesy martini—the list goes on.
Some may call the moves a marketing ploy (really, who wants to drink cheese-flavored booze?), but dipping into the alcohol market can be profitable for some of these brands. In fact, Eggo and Arby’s drinks introduced last year quickly sold out upon their respective launches. Arby’s said its 2022 bourbon drink boosted its rewards program sign-ups by 24%.
Like it or not, it seems snack-flavored booze is here to stay. Here’s a look at all the food brands that launched alcohol products this year.
Doritos partnered with Empirical, a distilling company in New York, to create its Nacho Cheese Spirit this December. It says “the many flavor layers of Doritos Nacho Cheese are extracted through Empirical’s innovative production process, using real Doritos chips and retaining their essence through vacuum distillation.”
Bottles of the drink will be available for a limited time online and in select stores in New York and California starting in January 2024. Pre-orders for the product started Dec. 13.
Though the drink may not be worth $65, it was described as “unexpectedly palatable” and not bad by critics. Paste Magazine, on the other hand, gave a scathing review, with its writer Jim Vorel equating the experience of tasting it to “something like drinking the mixed Doritos dust out of a pint of warm, flat beer.”
KFC worked with an English distiller, Dead Man’s Fingers, to create a limited-edition spiced rum available at KFC locations in the UK and online for $32 starting in August. One customer who bought the product on Amazon said it was “not very nice by itself” though “not horrendous,” but better mixed with coke.
Quartz checked to see if the rum was still available but couldn’t find any bottles for sale online.
Dunkin’ launched a line of iced teas and coffees called Dunkin’ Spiked in 2023. In the US, the drinks can be found in stores in 12 states so far including Vermont, New York, Ohio, and Texas.
The coffees come in four flavors—original, caramel, mocha, and vanilla. A 12-pack of 12-ounce cans costs anywhere from $16 to $22, depending on where they’re purchased. The teas come in a few flavors—strawberry dragonfruit and mango pineapple, for example—and retail for $18 to $22.
Dunkin’ Spiked says on its website that more states will sell the products in 2024. Reviews have varied, with some critics calling the hard coffee drinks “pretty darn good” and others saying they were a let-down.
Eggo launched its new, waffle-flavored liqueur in August with the Tennessee-based Sugarlands Distilling Company. The drink was marketed toward parents as a way for them to “kick back” during weekends. The strategy received some criticism, with Washington Post writer Emily Heil calling the drink a “boozy diabolical disaster.”
But other critics raved about it. Mashable writer Jenny Kellerhals said “the Sippin’ Cream manages to tap into both the fond childhood memories of buttery homestyle waffles and the very adult desire to unwind with something a little harder at the very same time.”
Jenn Carnevale of The Daily Meal wrote that the Eggo liqueur “redefines the traditional brunch experience by seamlessly intertwining the flavors of maple syrup’s sweetness…and the timeless appeal of classic Eggo waffles with a fiery rum that is sure to start your day on a high note.”
And finally, a fan favorite of the southern US, Bojangles sweet tea—hard sweet tea, that is. Made by Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Bojangles’ hard sweet tea hit the shelves of gas stations and grocery stores in North and South Carolina in March, to mixed (but mostly negative) reviews. The drinks aren’t sold at the fast-food chain’s restaurants.