If all you want for Christmas is cookies, Mariah Carey delivers. Really.
The star has launched a cookie company that'll bring you treats as sweet and gooey as Carey's love songs.
"Yay, cookies! We love 'em … love 'em during the holidays … love 'em all year round!!" Carey said in a statement.
Mariah's Cookies kicked off Dec. 4 in 30 markets, including the Twin Cities, in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts, restaurateur Robert Earl's portfolio of delivery-only brands that operates from existing kitchens throughout the country.
As the founder of Planet Hollywood and a one-time owner of Hard Rock Cafe, Earl has been a link between restaurants and celebrity branding for decades. (His Earl Enterprises also owns the chain Buca di Beppo, which originated in downtown Minneapolis.)
Carey is an "old friend," Earl said. "Always wanted to do something on the food side. Loves to cook for the kids at home. Loves baking, and we evolved toward cookies."
Earl hurried to launch Mariah's Cookies before the holidays because of Carey's iconic Christmas tunes and her holiday special out now on Apple TV+.
"She is the queen of Christmas and the holiday season," he said.
In addition to five signature cookies (chocolate chunk, triple chocolate chunk, Heath Bar, lemon cooler and spiced oatmeal raisin), there are three varieties just for the holidays (white chocolate cranberry, pumpkin and gingerbread). Those flavors will rotate out for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day (Carey is part Irish, Earl noted).
Tyga Bites, from the rapper Tyga, is another celebrity-inspired brand from Virtual Dining Concepts. It delivers boneless chicken bites and tots.
Earl was an early adopter of the ghost kitchen or cloud kitchen model, developing new delivery brands without their own brick-and-mortar restaurants. He opened Wing Squad in the Twin Cities and nationally in February. Since the pandemic, ghost kitchens have proliferated — not just here, but all over.
"I believe all restaurants, within three to five years, are going to be operators of some virtual brand," he said. "It is the way to help them survive."
For more new delivery-only concepts, including another launching before the end of the year, Earl is mining his celebrity circle, from "top YouTube stars to world famous athletes," he said.
The stars control their own intellectual property, meaning they are heavily involved in the branding and imagery. Carey rejected the first packaging Earl sent her, he said.
"She sent me pictures of her in certain dresses over the years that she had loved, as color references," and settled on a purple ombre box with repeating monograms of "MC" on the sides that make it look like a designer handbag. It can hold a stack of a dozen cookies.
Boxes can be ordered with preselected flavors or mix-and-match six- and 12-packs. Order through third party delivery apps such as Bite Squad and Door Dash or at mariahcareyscookies.com.
Cookies' classic counterpart, milk, is not on the menu. But in keeping with Carey's other endorsements, Mariah's Cookies does offer Pepsi.
Sharyn Jackson • 612-673-4853