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Top 10 Untold Truths of Cheetos

Did you know that Cheetos has been the top selling snack food since 2010? Cheetos are sold in over 36 countries and come in 21 flavors. The next time you take a bite out of these cheesy puffs think of these Top 10 Untold Truths of Cheetos.  

10. Highly Addictive

Cheetos, like chips, can be very highly addictive. It’s difficult to have just a handful of these cheesy melting crispy puffs and you’ll probably will find yourself eating a whole bag in just one sitting. It’s very hard to stop, and there’s a reason why! According to a study, not only does the brain associates crunching with the sound of freshness, but it’s also convinced that what you’re eating is more appetizing than it actually is. The reasoning behind this theory is called “vanishing caloric density”. The melt in your mouth factor tricks your brain into believing that you’re not getting enough food.  Like a melting ice cube, there aren’t any calories, so you must be able to eat forever right? Very deceptive, you say, but not an accident. Snack food companies do a lot of research in order to design foods that fool your mind and your taste buds into a constant state of craving. Industry insiders call this the “the bliss point.” Food designers pay close attention to this. The coating of salty cheddar cheese, crispiness and fat further enhances this theory and rewards the brain with instant feelings of pleasure and gratification. This combination makes it a perfectly addictive food. Cheetos definitely falls into this category of marvelously constructed foods that simply gives pure pleasure. Cheetos may be fantastic snack, but the feeling you get when you realize you’ve just eaten an entire bag of cheesy orange puffs…Not so great.

9. Cheetos Top-Secret Extruder Machine

Cheetos is one of America’s most beloved snacks and how they’re made is Frito Lay’s best kept secret. Cheetos are not just popped corn, dusted in a special orange cheddar cheese. They’re actually made with a machine called the Extruder. Extruders are unusually high-volume machines that process raw melted plastics or metal during a manufacturing process to form a continuous string. Cornmeal stored in silo’s is pumped through a pneumatic tube into the manufacturing plant, and then fed into this extruder. The cornmeal then rubs between two metal plates. The friction melts the starch in the corn and causes moisture to heat up. When it passes the boiling point, the corn meal pops creating the famous Cheetos shape. The scraggly bits are then spit out of the extruder machine at high velocity before hitting a safety net and dropping onto a conveyor belt. The Cheetos then move through a piping-hot flume of vegetable oil, frying them to a desired crispiness. Once cooked, the pieces go back on a conveyor belt, where they’re hit with a spray of powdered flaky orange cheddar cheese from all sides. The cheese, which Frito-Lay buys from an undisclosed company is pre-spiced and looks like the stuff found in a box of KD Mac n Cheese. The Cheetos are then cooled at room temperature and moved to the packaging area to be bagged, boxed, and shipped. Frito-Lay has 14  plants in 11 states all used to make the snack.

8. Top selling Brand

Did you know that Cheetos has been the top selling brand of snack food since 2010? Their retail sales are close to 4 billion dollars annually worldwide. Cheetos are sold in over 36 countries and come in 21 flavors, all depending on where you live. Cheetos were created in the test kitchen of the Fritos Company in Texas in 1948 by Charles E. Doolin. Originally called “Chee-tos”, the company rebranded the name to Cheetos in the late 90s in order to appeal to a wider audience. The original Chee-tos, were just Crunchy Cheetos and nothing more. It was the only product they produced for 23 years until the introduction of the Cheetos Puffs in 1971. The baked variety known as Baked Cheetos, came onto the market in the beginning of 2014.  Even though Cheetos was the first snack food of its kind, other competitors have emerged, such as Utz Cheese Curls, Herr’s Cheese Curls and Wise Cheez Doodles, along with Planters’ Cheese Puffs and Cheese Curls. Most of the competing cheese-flavored snacks are distributed in specific regions of the U.S. only. Cheetos also come in different shape and sizes. Popular flavors, include the spicy “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos”, Flamin’ Hot Limon Crunchy, XXTRA Flamin’ Hot Crunchy which have been discontinued. Also available are the Reduced Fat Puffs and Cheddar Jalapeño Crunchy. Although considered an American snack, Cheetos has production facilities worldwide including Cyprus, Pakistan, Spain, and Poland, where each country produces their own distinct flavors based on regional preferences.

7. Cheetos The Influencer

We all know by now who invented the Cheeto, but did you know that an unlikely source was a prime influencer in some of Cheetos most favorite flavors. It was not a popular Instagram Brand ambassador, heck, Instagram or Facebook – they weren’t even around when this story takes place. It all happened in the 70’s when Richard Montañez, a janitor at the Frito-Lay factory in Rancho Cucamonga, started adding chili powder to his own Cheetos during lunchtime. He noticed that the brand did not have any products targeting Latinos so he pitched the idea to the then-CEO, who loved it, and the “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos“ was born. The rest is history and Montañez is now an executive vice president at PepsiCo’s North America division.  Somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, he managed to rejuvenate the brand and become a central figure in marketing Cheetos. The corporation could have ignored him or claimed his idea as their own, but instead they saw his potential, mentored and promoted him, and changed his life. Today he’s met with U.S. presidents, has spoken at the United Nations, and he has served on several boards. He also teaches at Universities across the US and helps influence Latin inspired products at KFC and Taco bell.

6. Cheetos Only Restaurant

How many snacks foods are so popular that they merit their own restaurant? Okay, it was a short-lived one, but nonetheless. Back in 2017, Cheetos had a three-day event pop up restaurant that catered to anything made with their products. It all happened in New York City at a place so appropriately called The Spotted Cheetah. A complete Cheetos inspired menu!  It was more of a publicity stunt by the company, than anything else, but it still proved to be big hit. The dishes were created by none other than Chef Ann Burrell from Food Network. Each dish highlighted a flavor of Cheetos and such creations included dishes like Cheese Crusted Chicken Milanese and Mac n Cheetos. Other dishes came topped with variations of sprinkled pulverized Cheetos as garnishings. It was such a big hit, that reservations for the three-day run sold out within six hours of opening. A thousand people were waitlisted, and they had to add space at the bar to accommodate more folks. Dishes sold for up to $22 dollars. Not cheap considering what a bag a Cheetos costs. The winning dish had to be the Flaming Hot White Cheddar Mac n Cheetos. The restaurant’s design and décor revolved around the Cheetos theme, with pictures of Chester, the Cheetos mascot, and a black and orange glossy vibe that matched the brand. Opening night featured Celebrity endorsements like Mariah Carey and La La Anthony. But don’t head out to NY to try this one, they only temporarily took over the space that housed Distilled New York on Broadway in TriBeCa, as soon as they started, they were gone in a flash.

5. Cheetos Original Mascot

Chester the Cheetah is synonymous with the Cheetos brand today. He’s been the official mascot for the Frito-Lay’s Cheetos brand snack from the early eighties so this is what most of us can remember. But that wasn’t always the case. From 1971 – 79, the snacks first spokesperson used to be a mouse. Seeing that mice love cheese, it seemed like a perfect fit, and his character loved to bring Cheetos on all his wild adventures. But consumers tired of him quickly and in 1986, Chester the Cheetah took over his job. Created by Cheetos art director Brad Morgan, he starred in many commercials and almost had his own TV show once. This sly, smooth voiced cheetah was an instant hit. He was the one who coined the slogans “It ain’t easy bein’ cheesy” and “The cheese that goes Crunch,” which were mainstays from 1986 to 1997, until it became “Dangerously cheesy!” from 1997 onwards. In the beginning, ads usually showed him in desperate attempts to eat other people’s Cheetos. He was often seen sneaking up on an unsuspecting stranger at a beach or park trying to lift their food. It would always result in some sort of crazy, funny and daring antics on Chester’s part. Chester’s character underwent a slight revamping in 1997, a sign of the times, where he was portrayed in a less antagonistic manner. He started being cooler and much suaver and also became a much better character for the brand. Chester is so cool he also has his own brand of Chester’s Snacks which consists of flavored fries, popcorn and puffcorn. This cool cat is loved by everyone, and has become synonymous with the brand till today, who can forget him!

4. The idea came with help from the Military

Sometimes a crazy idea unleashes a bigger picture, so was the case with the invention of Cheetos. During WWII, the military was researching a way of dehydrating foods as a food source for their soldiers while in action. Because dairy and cheese were a good source of calcium but were perishable items, they specifically wanted to find a better preservation method for these products by creating not only a non perishable food, but a good tasting one too. They used military government money to come up with a new product called cheese powder. It worked and was a huge hit. So big that it also became a key ingredient in Cheetos in 1948 when the Frito Company introduced their first cheesy snack cracker to the market. It contained the same dehydrated Wisconsin cheddar that the army put in its dehydrated products. That magical cheese dust is history and thanks to the US Military and Doolin smart business acumen, he purchased the recipe for a mere $100 dollars in 1932. It was a start of a beautiful marriage and the Cheesy Cheeto as we know it was born.  

3. Secret Ingredients to Orange Fingers

Every wonder why your fingers turn orange and stay that way even after you’ve washed them after eating a bag of Cheetos. Some will say it’s annoying, but you’ve gotta love all that finger licking goodness. It’s simple. We know that they are made by blending cornmeal and water and then processed into puffs. The cheese powder is the key ingredient that completes them and gives them all their delicious flavor. The dehydrated cheddar cheese flakes are made with whey, yellow 6 dye, lactic and citric acid, vegetable oil, vitamin B, sugar, salt and of course MSG, among other things. But it’s the Yellow number 6 dye that gives it it’s color and is what’s staining not only your hands but also the insides of your guts. So, you’re putting a lot more than just cheese in your mouth. A little bit of trivia you may find somewhat helpful, is that it takes about 11 million gallons of milk to make the 10 million pounds of cheddar cheese that are used in Cheetos seasoning. So, this is healthy? Orange was not the only color used to make Cheetos, as they did have other mystery colors that were introduced in the early 2000s. You could expect your tongue to be stained blue or green, but even that it seems was a mystery too.

2. Cheetos Banned in Schools

Even though Cheetos is a popular snack among any generation they’re frowned upon as a lunch snack in elementary schools. One of the reasons which almost anyone can surmise by now is that they’re very much not healthy. After all, many schools pride themselves on teaching children good healthy eating habits. But did you know that the “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos” have been totally banned in some major US schools since 2012. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos became a wildly popular snack that not only leaves your hands red, they can send you to the hospital. Many children complained of stomach aches after eating a bag of this stuff. The XXtra Flamin Hot Cheetos that were created in 2008, which were discontinued in 2013, were the worst culprits. So, now several schools in California, New Mexico and Illinois have banned the high-fat, high-salt and possibly addictive treats. Some schools have even said that if a parent packs the snack in their child’s lunch, the spicy Cheetos will still be confiscated. The lack of nutritional value is the main reason behind the strict rules, but other concerns are germs and messiness overall.

1. More than One fun flavor

Produced worldwide Cheetos come in all different shapes and flavors. We have to admit that some countries do have some weird ones though. In the US and Canada, we have the usual Cheetos Puffs, Crunchy and Flamin Hot. We also have the baked Cheetos and the Jalapeño that have been a mainstay staple for years. Since 2012, we have the Honey BBQ Cheeto Puffs, and Salsa con Queso, and from 2013, we’ve had the wonderful crunch Cheetos Tapatio and the Cheetos Mix Up Xtra Cheesy. Japan has had Fizzy Pepsi flavored Cheetos since 2013, and they have had the likes of ketchup flavored Cheetos in Poland, strawberry in Russia, Peanut Butter in Eastern Europe and Japanese steak, in China. In India, Cheetos Whoosh are made with whole grain and vegetables. In Pakistan Cheetos are available in six different flavors. The sole Cheetos product produced in Australia is Cheetos Cheese & Bacon Balls. Cheetos also come in many different colors, the most popular being orange and red. In 2015, Frito-Lay released a limited edition of cinnamon sugar flavored snack called Sweetos to the US market, a first in their 67-year history. They are available only during the spring and even though they don’t taste anything like the cheddar crunch we’re used to, they are fairly decent.


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