Everyone knows that Cheetos are one of America’s most beloved snacks. But you probably don’t know that Chester Cheetah was not its first mascot or that a janitor was behind the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Keep reading to find out more interesting facts about this cheesy snack.
10. The First Cheetos Product Was Crunchy Cheetos
The first Cheetos to make it on the scene were Crunchy Cheetos. Fritos founder Charles Elmer Doolin invented them in Texas in 1948. They remained the brand’s only Cheetos product until Cheetos Puffs were introduced in 1971.
- Cheetos were originally called Chee-tos.
- Cheetos were made initially with Fritos ingredients.
- Doolin lacked the resources to take his new snack nationwide, so he enlisted the help of potato chip magnate Herman Lay. The product did so well that, in 1961, the duo merged their two companies to form Frito-Lay Inc.
9. A Janitor Created Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
Ok, so there are quite a few interesting things about this story. First of all, a janitor working at a Frito-Lay plant is the one who came up with the idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. And, if you think that’s interesting, the story gets even more interesting. The janitor was 12-year-old plant-worker Richard Montañez!
It was 1976, and the lad, who spoke very little English, had recently dropped out of school. He got the idea for spicy Cheetos from Mexican street corn. So, he put in a call to then-CEO Roger Enrico, telling him his idea. Much to his delight, Enrico loved it!
The spicy cheese curls made their debut in the early 1990s and have been popular ever since. As for Montañez, he worked his way up through the company, eventually serving as an executive vice president.
8. Cheetos Cheese Dust Has a Name
Believe it or not, that orange (or red, if you’re eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos) Cheeto dust that gets all over your fingers actually has a name! It’s called “Cheetle.”
And, for any of you wondering just what Cheetle is, it’s a cheese seasoning made from cheddar cheese, whey, canola oil, salt, artificial flavors, and quite a few other ingredients.
As for where the name came from, your guess is as good as mine. Ironically, an earlier form of the name, spelled “Cheedle,” was coined by comedian Rich Hall in the 1980s when he used the term to refer to Cheeto residue.
7. They’re Addictive
At least that’s the rumor that’s going around anyway. According to an article published by Thrillist, they’re scientifically designed to be that way.
“Cheetos’ airy texture melts in such a way that it actually fools the synapses in the brain so that they don’t realize calories are being consumed,” the article reads.
The same goes for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. According to Children’s MD, some health professionals say that capsaicin, the ingredient that makes Flamin’ Hot Cheetos so hot, signals the body to release endorphins. The premise is that people who consume the Cheetos could begin to crave these endorphins, leading to eating an entire bag or more.
6. The First Mascot was an Animated Mouse
The first Cheetos mascot was an animated mouse named Cheetos Mouse. This makes sense, after all, since everyone knows how much mice love cheese. He made his debut in early 1971 but was replaced by Chester Cheetah in 1986.
- Cheetos Mouse had the slogans “Chee-tos. Cheese that goes crunch!” and “Hail Chee-sar!”
- Chester Cheetah was supposed to get his own Saturday morning cartoon show, but groups that fought corporations advertising to kids worked hard to make sure the show never aired. They claimed it would have been nothing more than a program-length commercial.
5. Cheetos Opened a Pop-Up Restaurant in NYC in 2017
If you live in New York City, you may remember Cheetos opening its own pop-up restaurant in Tribeca in 2017. It was called The Spotted Cheetah and featured Cheetos-inspired decor and a menu featuring the classic snack.
Some food items included Cheetos meatballs, Flamin’ Hot Cheddar Mac n’ Cheetos, and Cheetos Sweetos Sweet and Salty Cookies. The restaurant was only open for three days, but it was booked solid, and, as a result, reservations were hard to come by.
4. They’re Worth a Lot of Money
Did you know that one Cheeto (yes, just one Cheeto, not an entire bag of Cheetos) sold for $99,000 on eBay? Yep, it’s true!
According to an article published by Delish, in 2017, someone found a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto that looked like Harambe, the gorilla who was put to death at the Cincinnati Zoo after a four-year-old child fell into the gorilla’s enclosure. The Cheeto was put up for auction on eBay, and the seller made quite a pretty penny off it.
3. You Can Use Them To Keep a Fire Burning
The next time you go camping, make sure to bring a bag of Cheetos with you. That’s because you can use Cheetos to keep a fire burning.
According to an article published by Spoon University, Cheetos make excellent tinder because they’re made up of “pure hydrocarbons and fat.”
Hydrocarbons are naturally occurring compounds that are highly combustible. They produce carbon dioxide, water and heat when burned, making them highly effective as sources of fuel. In fact, hydrocarbons form the basis of crude oil, natural gas, coal, and other important energy sources.
2. It Takes a Lot of Cows To Make a Year’s Worth of Cheetos
According to an article published by Thrillist Kimberly Scott, the director of communications at PepsiCo, Inc./Frito-Lay North America, said that making a year’s worth of Cheetos requires 10 million pounds of cheddar cheese — or put another way, 11 million gallons of milk.
That comes out to 2,200 gallons of milk per cow. So, how many cows does that involve? A whopping 5,000 of them every year! That’s a lot of cows, right? But, then again, Americans consume a LOT of Cheetos. Just how much?
Well, according to data calculated by Statista and based on the U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), 5.17 million Americans consumed eight or more bags of Cheetos within a one-month period in the United States in 2020.
1. They’re Linked To the U.S. Military
Did you know that the U.S. military is partially responsible for the invention of Cheetos? You probably didn’t, but it’s absolutely true! During World War II, the military-funded research into dehydrating foods — including cheese — that could be packed into meal kits for the troops.
One result of that research was cheese powder. At the end of the war, the military was left with a surplus of dried foods, including cheese powder, which they sold to the Frito-Lay corporation. Thus, Cheetos were born!