Back in the olden days, there were two varieties of Cheetos: regular (crunchy) and puffs.
Those were dark times for snack food lovers, although as someone who lived through that deprived era I guess I didn’t know what I was missing. Perhaps I was even thankful to have two choices, laughing at my parents who grew up with just the regular version of cheezy goodness.
Of course, now there are so many flavors that I doubt even Chester Cheetah himself can keep track, and he seems too cool to care about such things anyway. Enter the latest addition to the list, Cheetos Stars Summertime Ranch.
Unlike many of the recent introductions, this version doesn’t feature any variation of Flamin’ Hot, spicy, fire, jalapeno, habanero or anything of that ilk. And even though cheddar cheese is far down in the ingredients, there is no orange hue and no cheese taste to these star-shaped puffs.
So, what do these have to offer? Well, not a whole lot. Basically, these are plain puffs covered with Cool Ranch Doritos dust. Cheetos and Doritos are both owned by Frito-Lay, so maybe there was some kind of accident where uncoated Cheetos puffs fell into a vat of Cool Ranch dust. Or maybe someone in management just wasn’t feeling very creative and lazily decided to just combine two of their products (but wait, they are star-shaped!). Either way, the ingredient lists of both are strikingly similar.
If you are a devotee of Cool Ranch Doritos, you’ll probably like these but not love them. In puff form, these are not as satisfying as chips. These could have been more interesting with more of the original Cheetos cheese flavor mixed with Cool Ranch or even with the crunchy Cheetos base instead of puffs, but Frito-Lay never asked me. They also have not acted on my perfectly reasonable suggestion to bring Mountain Dew-flavored Cheetos to America. (Yes, that’s a real thing, or was a real thing, but only in Japan).
One of my favorite things about original Cheetos is the orange dust on my fingers at the end of a snacking session. Even when the bag is gone, you still get the bonus of licking the magic dust off your digits. (I would tell you that my dog also likes licking Cheetos dust off my fingers, but that would be gross). As for the Summertime Ranch dust, it’s more of a greasy, speckled coating.
I can’t say that I’ve tried every variety of Cheetos, but I’m pretty sure I’ve munched through at least half, and this one lands toward the bottom of the rankings. Ranch flavor goes well with many things — chips, chicken wings, pizza — and I’ve even heard people use it on something called a “salad.”
Maybe it’s because the snack food industry has conditioned me to believe that Cool Ranch goes with chips and cheese flavor goes with puffs, but this flavor flip was a bit of a disappointment.
(Nutrition Facts – About 37 pieces (28 grams) – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 60 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $1.48
Size: 2 5/8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Nice replication of Doritos Cool Ranch flavor. Pretty cool photo of Chester Cheetah on the bag.
Cons: Lack of any Cheetos cheese flavor. Instead of magical cheese dust on your fingers you just get a greasy coating. Not really anything “summertime” about it.