And Josh Amidon, owner of Gino’s Cheese Steak & Onion in Fayetteville, New York, and self-proclaimed “Cheesesteak Jedi,” couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join in on the Barbie magic.
“It’s genius and I wanted to be a part of it because everyone else was being a part of it, and I'll be damned if I'm not gonna get in on a trend,” Amidon, 38, tells TODAY.com. “I saw all these other restaurants doing pink Barbie drinks and pink Barbie desserts and I was like, I do want to participate in the fun, but I don't want to follow suit with what everyone else is doing. I wanted to do something fun and different.”
So Amidon, who previously worked in marketing before he bought Gino’s at the height of the pandemic in 2020, decided to add a little something extra to Gino’s namesake sandwich — which he has dubbed the “Malibu Barbie Dream Drizzle.”
After testing nearly 20 different versions, the sauce officially launched in store on July 21, the day the “Barbie” movie was released in theaters.
“Because I am a freak, I have to taste everything nine times and try everything a little bit differently,” he says. “And then finally when the doors opened, we’re just kind of like, ‘Hey, I guess we’re going with this thing.’”
The final product ended up as a hot pink sauce drizzled on top of Gino’s signature cheesesteak. The drizzle is made of red dragon fruit and house-made ranch, with punches of garlic, chili and lemon, Amidon says.
Plus, it’s sprinkled with edible glitter, because “we're dramatic af,” the store wrote in a Facebook post.
Amidon says the buzz around the sandwich on social media was almost immediate — and then people started flocking in to get a taste of the glittery drizzle.
“The last I’ve heard is we’ve had someone drive from as far as New Jersey,” Amidon says. “She came in wearing pink cheetah print and a cowboy hat, and we had so much fun with her.”
Customers since have taken multi-hour car journeys to get to Gino’s, and one of the store’s Facebook posts has reached more than 10 million users on the platform.
“I could tell by the reaction that it was getting that I might have to make more,” he says with a laugh.
And it ended up being a lot more — the sandwich shop has sold just shy of 20 gallons of the sauce, Amidon says, noting they use about two ounces per sandwich.
Amidon says the sauce was inspired by the “Pink Sauce” condiment that went viral on TikTok last summer, and addressed allegations from the sauce’s loyal fans that Gino’s was stealing the idea.
“I have nothing but respect for the original,” he says. “I am super proud of what we’ve done with it and what our staff has done with it, and how we’ve, in my humble opinion, elevated it.”
There are a couple of other people who aren’t a fan of the sauce — the cooks at Gino’s, specifically, Amidon says.
“I love my cooks dearly, but they are what I would consider more traditional, manly men,” he says. “They were not thrilled about having to make and sell a pink Barbie sauce. And they didn’t have much of a thought that was going to blow up into as much as it did.”
Amidon says he hopes the cooks have come around to it now, especially since the sauce may become a permanent menu item at Gino’s. But he is worried about one person who could get in the way — Lawyer Barbie.
“My ultimate dream is to have Barbie herself write a cease-and-desist letter to us,” he says. “I’ll frame it in a big, over the top, gaudy pink frame and put it on the wall in the restaurant. And then I won’t retire the sauce — I’ll change the name and I'll just rebrand it into something else.”
Amidon says he has not yet heard anything from Mattel, but he will be “happy to comply with anything they want.”
“Let’s be very honest here: Barbie’s had over 200 jobs. She has saved up a lot of money for good attorneys — she was an attorney at one point. It was probably after she was a marine biologist but before she was president,” he says. “I am waiting for something to come. I haven’t had anything yet but we will comply with with whatever Barbie wants us to do.”
But for now, the Malibu Barbie Dream Drizzle is here to stay, Amidon says, and the restaurant and its staff are enjoying every minute since becoming “a bit of a celebrity” in their corner of the world.
“Keep in mind, our dining room is tiny,” Amidon says, adding the entire restaurant is 800 square feet. “And then not to mention, we live in insanely small village in central New York — we have like 4,000 people. So for people to be flooding our doors, getting this sauce — it’s an honor.”