PepsiCo Rolls Out a Recipe Hub and Cookbooks to Inspire Kitchen Creativity

Mountain Dew Code Red Brisket, anyone?

Nearly two-thirds of people are currently cooking at home as a way to stay entertained, according to PepsiCo. PepsiCo

The number of Americans making meals at home has swelled during the pandemic, and the trend is likely to continue with coronavirus cases rising as the nation heads into the winter months.

To provide home cooks with both inspiration and a source of pleasure during a difficult period, PepsiCo is rolling out a few innovations: a new recipe hub titled More Smiles With Every Bite and two cookbooks—one with recipes that incorporate Cheetos, and another that features Mountain Dew.

The website, which arranges dishes by occasion and brand, features creations such as Lay’s Hashbrown Casserole, Smartfood Popcorn Holiday Wreath Cake and Ruffles Jalapeño Ranch Grilled Jalapeño Poppers. Ingredient lists include links to products from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay and Quaker portfolios for users to buy online.

The Cheetos-themed book is called Bon-Appe-Cheetos: A Holiday Cookbook by Chester & Friends, and showcases 22 dishes, such as Flamin’ Hot Tamales and Fried Green Tomatoes with a Spot of Salad. Fans can pick up a limited-edition copy by donating a minimum of $35 to the nonprofit World Central Kitchen or participating in a contest on social media. The Big Bold Book of MTN DEW Recipes contains 40 items that range from Mountain Dew Pancakes to Mountain Dew Code Red Brisket. The cookbook, which is meant to help celebrate the beverage’s 80th birthday, is available for purchase on the brand’s online store.

Rachel Ferdinando, svp and CMO of Frito-Lay North America, said that people have been searching for ways to include PepsiCo’s snack brands into their own cooking routines, and that the company has had to shift its consumer-engagement strategy to deliver on these desires from consumers.

“As the course of this pandemic has evolved, we have to reevalute the role our brands are playing in this new normal,” said Ferdinando. “What we’ve seen is that people’s relationship with food has continued to change.”

She noted that internal research shows around two-thirds of people are currently cooking at home as a way to stay entertained. On a similar note, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey in May found that 69% of consumers who’ve spent more time cooking lately said the activity has enhanced their quality of life.

And after several months under lockdown, many people seem hungry for new ways to experiment in the kitchen. Data from Pinterest shows that searches for finger food appetizer recipes are up 49 times when comparing this October with the same month last year. Food-related searches, like homemade jam instructions or ideas for leftover spaghetti, have also surged. 

Last year, PepsiCo’s ecommerce sales amounted to nearly $2 billion. The business has only grown since then, with PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta telling investors in October that ecommerce revenue almost doubled in the company’s latest quarter. Earlier into the pandemic, in May, the CPG giant debuted two direct-to-consumer websites—Snacks.com and PantryShop.com—to help meet the rise in demand for online options.

As for the trend keeping its current pace, Ferdinando is optimistic that the “reengagement in cooking” at home with the family will continue.

Other packaged-food manufacturers have also been busy pushing out original cooking content in recent months. McCormick & Co., for instance, has produced step-by-step cooking programs on social media featuring McCormick’s food stylist Rachel Miller and executive chef Kevan Vetter. Betty Crocker, owned by General Mills, has published affordable recipes aimed at beginners. Just this week, Conagra Brands and Kraft Heinz posted new recipes for a queso-inspired soup and breakfast wrap on Conagra’s recipe portal ReadySetEat.com. The two companies have been teaming up to publish various queso-based dishes using Ro-Tel canned tomatoes and green chilies and Velveeta cheese for the past decade.


@hiebertpaul paul.hiebert@adweek.com Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.
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