McDonald’s hoodies and Dunkin’ robes: Why fast food chains want to sell you clothing

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McDonald’s (MCD) latest non-edible creation is a hoodie, timed to coincide with the launch of its new crispy chicken sandwiches. Dunkin’ (DNKN) launched a wedding “kit” of matrimonial products, and Chipotle (CMG) has tapped the universe of TikTok stars for its newest T-shirt launch.

While fast food chains regularly sell clothing and experiences to create buzz, there’s a reason they’re ramping up the effort during the pandemic, said Andrew Charles, restaurant sector analyst with Cowen.

Charles said clothing featuring your favorite products is a good, low-cost way for restaurants to keep your favorite restaurant top of mind. “It’s another avenue for companies like McDonald’s to do this outside of TV (ads),” said Charles. This has become more important during the pandemic as people eat out less frequently.

As a marketing move, Charles said fast food chains tapping into influencers to create one-of-a-kind merchandise is a “home run.” “This is already a mature industry that needs to appeal to younger Millennial and Gen Z consumers,” he said.

Here are some of the latest in fast food fashions:

McDonald’s chicken hoodie

McDonald's Crispy Chicken Sandwich Hoodie
The latest menu-inspired swag from McDonald’s includes a nod to the ever-popular crispy chicken sandwich. The chain is currently locked in a battle with rivals in that category.

McDonald’s said it will sell a limited number of $5 swag packages via a special website that includes, among other things, a hoodie with a picture of its new Crispy Chicken Sandwich with the slogan “crispyjuicytender.”

The gift box also includes vinyl recording of a song about the sandwich from music producer Tay Keith, and a gift card to redeem for the sandwich one day prior to its official release at restaurants.

McDonald’s (MCD) has recently sold other merchandise tied to food, including projects with musicians Travis Scott and J. Balvin. Scott’s fashion collaboration with the chain sold for as much as hundreds of dollars more than originally priced on the resale market, according to the online marketplace StockX.

Chipotle puts a meme on T-shirts:

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Chipotle's T-shirt collaboration with Roy Murray.

For its latest merch drop, Chipotle turned to a 12-year-old TikTok sensation for some help. The chain teamed up with Roy Murray, aka the “Chipotle Is My Life” Kid, for a limited edition clothing launch for its Chipotle Goods collection.

Chipotle decided to screenshot little Roy from the viral video and put the meme on T-shirts.

There’s more. For $28, Chipotle loyalists can also score a “Chipotle Is My Life” meme running down the sleeves of a long sleeve white T-shirt. The company said it’s donating all profits from the collection to organizations focused on making fashion or farming more sustainably.

In 2020, Chipotle said it would utilize the chain’s used avocado pits that would otherwise have gone to waste to dye a new collection of its T-shirts, sweatshirts and tote bags.

A Dunkin’ wedding?:

Dunkin'-patterned wedding bowtie.
The pandemic has already thrown the wedding industry for a loop.
So, for couples still determined to tie the knot amid all kinds of new pandemic-driven guidelines, Dunkin’ said it wants to step in to add some fun by making the doughnut chain a part of their big day.

Dunkin’ just unveiled all kinds of paraphernalia online, including a Dunkin’ bride satin robe, a Dunkin’-patterned bow tie and ring bearer pillow, and even a Dunkin’-themed veil.

“As new weddings are planned and some are rescheduled from last year, we’re excited to make it easier for coffee and donut loving couples everywhere to bring a little more Dunkin’ into their celebration,” Melanie Rabino, director of brand engagement at Dunkin’, said in a statement.

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