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A popular Colorado burrito restaurant is celebrating National Queso Day with a limited-edition queso-flavored vape cart

Illegal Pete’s, a mission-style burrito chain that operates ten locations in the Boulder State, is collaborating with Denver-based vape brand O.Pen to bring this unusual product out into the world. The Illegal Pete’s Queso Cannabis Vape is available at select Colorado dispensaries from September 20th, which is National Queso Day, until October 31st. And to help satiate any munchies that the vape might induce, Illegal Pete’s will give out a free order of chips and queso to anyone who buys one of the new products.

Pete Turner, the restaurant’s owner and namesake, was introduced to O.Pen’s parent company Slang Worldwide by cannabis publicist Ricardo Baca. Shortly after meeting, the two companies dreamed up the idea of creating what just might have been the world’s first cheese-flavored edible. Actually infusing the taste of cheese into a non-dairy gummy turned out to be pretty tricky, though. The partners soon realized that they wouldn’t be able to finalize these edibles before National Queso Day, so they pivoted to a simpler solution.

“We still have some science to figure out with the edibles, but we thought that maybe a way to get there would be a vape,” said Turner to Westword. “I’ve known of O.Pen for ten years, so it was cool to have an opportunity to work with them. They’re an old-school Denver brand.”

Colorado was one of the first two states to legalize adult-use cannabis, and Turner was onboard from the get-go. Several Illegal Pete’s locations feature a variety of stickers from local cannabis companies and brands, and the chain definitely doesn’t discriminate against employees who choose to light up.

“It’s been fun to be in Colorado, where it all kicked off, and see this industry evolve,” Turner told Westword. “I thought at some point we’d probably be doing something like this, and I think this is a very fun opportunity.”

Slang CEO John Moynan told Westword that Illegal Pete’s has “been tangential to our industry for a long time, and there has always been a lot of overlap in the types of things we sponsor, our consumer bases and brand identification. It was cool to be able to get their feedback on strain profiles and what they wanted out of it, and how we should lean into National Queso Day.”

Creating a queso-flavored vape turned out to be an easier task than creating a cheese-flavored edible. Cannabis plants contain naturally occurring terpenes, aromatic compounds that give each strain of weed its specific scent and flavor. Oddly enough, some of these terpenes actually taste a bit like cheese, so cultivators have been able to breed a wide variety of cheese-flavored strains. O.Pen used terpenes from one of these strains, the aptly-named UK Cheese, to provide the flavor for the new vape carts.

“We’re three years out of COVID, but it was a dark couple years,” said Turner to Westword. “Coming out of it, I challenged myself and my team to have more fun. Being creative meant trying to keep people from dying. We employed 400 people and saw the public every day, so it required a totally different kind of creativity. I’m so happy to be motivated to flex that creative muscle in a fun way again.”