McDonald’s unveils CosMc’s, its new beverage-heavy spinoff

Turmeric lattes, churro frappés, berry-hibiscus “sour-ade” — and not a burger in sight: That’s (part of) the new lineup at CosMc’s, the McDonald’s spinoff that’s opening its first location on Friday in the Chicago suburbs.

McDonald’s had announced plans for the new concept earlier this year, but details about it had been hazy until this week, when the chain unveiled the CosMc’s menu. The futuristic-yet-nostalgic brand will be all about beverages, it seems, making it an obvious competitor to brands such as Starbucks and Dunkin’, which have found success not just slinging coffee but in various drink offerings, from pumpkin-spice lattes to mango-pineapple green teas.

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CosMc’s checks plenty of food-trend boxes, according to McDonald’s description. It’s made for drive-though dining, which has become the primary way diners want to eat. Guests can use touch-screen menus and cashless ordering. And diners are encouraged to customize their drinks with an array of fruit syrups, boba and vitamin C shots.

The menu includes some of the most recognizable breakfast items from McDonald’s, including the Egg McMuffin, the Sausage McMuffin and hash browns — only the latter now come in nugget-like pieces instead of the classic oblong patty. New food items include a Spicy Queso Sandwich, which tops eggs with sausage, queso sauce and crispy jalapeño chips, as well as a Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich (because it wouldn’t be a menu targeted to young people without a riff on avocado toast, would it?).

Snack items include pretzel bites, a charcuterie-like snack box, cookies and a brownie, as well as McDonald’s McFlurry drinks.

But the bulk of the offerings comes in liquid form. The 41 options range from classic coffee to colorful slushies, frappés and lemonades, from an “Island Pick-Me-Up Punch” to a “Popping Pear Slush.” “CosMc’s menu is rooted in beverage exploration, with bold and unexpected flavor combinations, vibrant colors and functional boosts,” according to McDonald’s.

CosMc’s has a quirky — and surprisingly detailed — backstory. Unlike the better-known mascots such as Grimace and the Hamburgler, CosMc is an obscure character from the McDonaldland cinematic universe who appeared in a few late-1980s TV ads.

In the first commercial, the six-armed alien shows up and grabs the basket holding Ronald McDonald’s picnic. He learns to share and sits down to eat with Ronald and Grimace before zooming off back to space. “I’ve got to tell my people about McDonald’s cheeseburgers,” he chirps. “Later, dudes!” In later commercials, it seems CosMc has opened a McDonald’s location in space.

McDonald’s extends this trippy storyline on the CosMc’s website, explaining that the alien developed a lineup of drinks to go with the cheeseburger he had discovered on Earth. “In another galaxy, CosMc began experimenting with these menu items alongside some unique beverages; ones that would not only complement the food, but stand alone as the perfect mood boost for all beings,” it reads.

Now, though, he has decided to share his concoctions with us Earthlings. His goal? “To lift them up, just like the aliens. And to provide a momentary escape for anyone on their way through the galaxy.”

After the opening of the Bolingbrook, Ill., location, McDonald’s plans to debut 10 more CosMc’s locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio metro areas, the company said.

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