Update, Nov. 20: Kum & Go has officially launched the Kyle Scheele Meal—er, Kyle Scheele Meale:
TikTok star launches celebrity meal for himself with giant in-store display
Previously: After learning that employees at the Kum & Go convenience store near his home in Springfield, Missouri, don’t really have much to do with the in-store promotional displays—“Corporate handles all of that,” he was told, with vendors showing up unannounced to do installation and removal—TikTok star Kyle Scheele said he came up with the idea to create a giant cardboard cutout of himself to promote the nonexistent “Kyle Scheele Meal,” and install it in the store himself to see if he could get away with it.
Scheele is something of a Photoshop wiz and cardboard-art expert—he describes himself as a “motivational cardboarder” on his website—and in a TikTok video (below), he chronicled the making of a display in which he strikes a ridiculous rock-star pose while playing a pizza-shaped guitar just below giant type reading “THE KYLE SCHEELE MEAL” and flanked by a one-word endorsement: “Delicious,” according to Gas Station Food Weekly.
In the video, Scheele said that no Kum & Go employees stopped him when he confidently walked into the store and set it up—though he mentioned being nervous as he pulled off what he describes as a “reverse heist.”
Scheele posted his video chronicling the stunt on Tuesday, and as of this writing it’s racked up more than 12 million views. (Update: As of Saturday morning, it’s now up to 21.2 million views.) Meanwhile, Scheele’s fans (he has 2.7 million followers on TikTok) have been stopping by the store to pose with it for social media and request the Kyle Scheele Meal.
As it happens, Kum & Go—a chain based in Des Moines, Iowa, with more than 400 stores in 11 states—has a quirky Twitter account (the bio reads: “This is our bio. Written by Dionne Warwick”). Wednesday afternoon, @kumandgo posted a screenshot of random tweets requesting the Kyle Scheele Meal with the caption “what is all this about.”
And in a comment on Scheele’s video on TikTok, Kum & Go wrote, “We won’t tell if you don’t”—which had some observers wondering if the chain was actually in on the stunt.
As Scheele noted in a follow-up TikTok video (below), posted late Wednesday, his local Kum & Go left the Kyle Scheele Meal display up. And Kum & Go corporate took to TikTok (also below) to pretend to toy with the idea of actually launching a Kyle Scheele Meal. (More on that in a moment.)
Meanwhile, the verified TikTok accounts of other brands started commenting on Scheele’s video. Adobe wrote, “We rate this 11 pizza guitars out of 10, as our official review.” Uno wrote, “Just gonna leave this reverse card here if you need it...” 7-Eleven wrote, “Ohh so THAT’S how all the cardboard cutouts get in our stores.” And Adobe’s Photoshop TikTok account wrote, “Please leave this in our lobby so we can see how long it takes before our boss asks questions.”
By Friday evening, Kum & Go had come clean (kum clean?), revealing that it had actually teamed up with Scheele, and that despite its TikTok posturing about maybe thinking about launching a Scheele-branded celebrity meal deal, it secretly had the Kyle Scheele Meale—two slices of pizza and a 12-ounce Red Bull for $5—all ready to roll out at its locations that serve pizza. (Every Kum & Go store, of course, already stocks Red Bull.)
It’s worth noting that the delightfully lazy creation does require some effort—from customers, who are expected to combine their two slices of pizza into a “Pizza Sandwich” (see below).
For those who may be miffed that the stunt wasn’t quite what it seemed to be, well, the fan clamoring on TikTok and Twitter for the launch of a Scheele celebrity meal certainly seemed entirely (or at least mostly) authentic—and the whole thing is actually a fundraising effort for the charity No Kid Hungry.
Here’s Kum & Go’s statement about the Kyle Scheele Meale launch:
Kum & Go is excited to answer the demands of our fans and announce the launch of the Kyle Scheele Meale. The Meale consists of a “Pizza Sandwich” (2 slices of pizza) and a 12oz Red Bull, all for $5. Kum & Go is donating $2 for every Scheele Meale sold between now and Thanksgiving to No Kid Hungry to provide meals for kids in need, up to $10,000. The Meale is available at all Kum & Go locations serving pizza. Kum & Go is thrilled to partner with Kyle on such a humorous, unexpected initiative that aligns with Kum & Go’s commitment to fighting food insecurity in our towns and cities.
Matt Riezman, Kum & Go’s director of brand marketing, told Ad Age that the company’s brand is all about being “quirky but relevant, subversive but generous, and always leaning into humor. ... Kyle is such a natural fit with the Kum & Go brand due to our shared love for humor and hijinks, so we had been looking for an opportunity to work together.”
Riezman declined to detail the exact timeline of the development of the activation, but noted that “We had an idea of how the story might play out this week”—and that everyone at Kum & Go, from the digital team to the store workers, had to move “with incredible agility after the idea caught fire on TikTok.”
Tracy Ging, Kum & Go’s chief marketing officer, said the Kyle Scheele Meale is part of a larger effort to “modernize the convenience [store] experience, and a lot of that will come through our new food menu, which is launching now in Little Rock and Omaha.”
Which isn’t to say that the chain intends to stray too far from its gas-station-cuisine roots.
“At the end of the day,” Ging added, “our name is Kum & Go and our signature item is breakfast pizza—or, on the new menu, a mango pork with crunched-up Takis on top. ... We’re going to have fun with it.”