If you have tiny panic attacks trying to decide which popped or fried processed corn snack you want to buy at the grocery store, Frito-Lay has swooped in and made things worse with another option — Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix. As a follow-up to 2020’s Cheetos Popcorn, the popped corn has a new corny best friend that goes by the name of Crunchy Cheetos.
How is it?
I won’t lie, when I first saw the announcement of this product, I thought it was kind of dumb, but this cheesy mix SMACKS. I’m a bigger lover of popcorn than I am Cheetos, and I don’t buy regular Crunchy Cheetos very often, but this serves as a great reminder of how satisfying the classics are. The bag is loaded with cheesy seasoning (cheetle) and is as beautifully luminously orange as ever.
In general, Cheetos are a solid snack but can be kind of heavy and greasy when eaten in large quantities, no matter the flavor. The popcorn acts as a perfect companion to the denser, greasy Cheetos. It allows for a full-on salty and creamy snack spiral without the heftiness.
It’s a fun textural juxtaposition to have two totally different types of corn with the same seasoning. They taste and feel pretty different but maintain the intense glowing cheesy symphony that builds as I crunch and crunch and crunch.
Anything else you need to know?
I would love to see a bag with Cheetos’ classic cheesy and spicy flavors combined. Perhaps incorporating Cheetos popcorn with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for an addictive back and forth.
This simple little snack surprised me, and if you like the salty cheddar explosion from Chester, there’s no way you won’t enjoy going for a cheesy dive into Crunch Pop Mix.
Purchased Price: $3.50 Size: 2.75 oz bag Purchased at: Safeway Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 cup/28 grams) 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
What is the Hissho Sushi Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Roll?
A unique and insanely creative sushi experience where Eastern cuisine meets Western snacking in the form of a Cheetos Flamin’ Hot sushi roll. The red-hot roll features spicy krab, crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, a drizzle of hot mayo along with avocado, cream cheese, and cucumber.
How is it?
Just like those Cheetos Rorschach tests where you try to come up with what your cheese puff looks like (Is that a beluga whale or Jesus Christ?) I’m having some trouble with this one. There are certainly some moments of divine intervention. The red color is spot-on and perfectly reminiscent of the spicy snack.
It has some great heat and the cooling trifecta of avocado, cream cheese, and cucumber was a genius idea. They are the perfect antidote to the spice that builds, especially from the hot mayo. Although it never gets as hot as the actual snack. The cucumber also offers a satisfying crunch, while the cream cheese has the most significant impact on flavor, really coming through amongst all the components with the krab and avocado occasionally showing up to the party in your mouth.
However, there are also some shortcomings considering the crazy concept. For this dangerously cheesy mashup, I couldn’t detect any cheese. The mashed-up Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and cheetle (the official name of the Cheetos dust!) are visibly present as they provide the fantastic bright red hue. Because of that, you would expect they would shine, but as far as any flavor or crunch goes, they are mostly just rendered inert by unfortunately dissolving into the moist sushi rice or mayo. It’s like a disappointing prank from the sly Chester Cheetah.
Anything else you need to know?
There is nothing bootleg here! This is an official collaboration between Frito-Lay and Hissho Sushi, and they are putting some serious money/resources behind it. Look at the sign that greeted me on my hunt for this. This is not at the sushi counter. This is at the front entrance to the entire grocery store!
This is an absolutely delicious spicy sushi roll with good heat, a gorgeous hue, and a multi-layered and refreshing cool crunch. I gobbled it up pretty quickly, actually. However, the spicy mayo and cream cheese overpower the star ingredient. I wish there was a hint of cheesiness and a heavier-handed approach to how the snack is showcased.
Purchased Price: $5.55 Size: 8.1 oz Purchased at: Giant Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 roll) 510 calories, 29 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1160 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 4 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.
I’m as angry red as the Flamin’ Hot version of Cheetos Mac ‘N Cheese (there are also Bold & Cheesy and Cheesy Jalapeno varieties).
For years, I’ve been longing for Cheetos-flavored seasoning to be bottled so that we all can sprinkle some Cheetle on whatever our taste buds desire. But here we are with a Cheetos-flavored powdery substance, but it’s not bottled. Instead, I have to mix it with cooked noodles and water to make mac ’n cheese in a cup.
WHY CAN’T WE HAVE NICE THINGS, LIKE BOTTLED CHEETOS SEASONING!
(Oh, Cheetle is the official term for what we’ve all called Cheeto Dust. Since Cheetos sent me these, I thought I’d be courteous and use the correct terminology.)
Can you imagine topping pasta with Cheetos seasoning instead of grated parmesan cheese? Or maybe put it on McDonald’s French fries, scrambled eggs, potato chips, hash browns, chili, anything from Taco Bell, anything made by Chef Boyardee, a Costco hot dog, Costco pizza, Costco rotisserie chicken, the frozen cauliflower crust pizza I always pick up from Costco…
Sorry, as you can see, I’ve imagined a life with Cheetos seasoning for a long time, and I often shop at Costco.
Cheetos Mac ’N Cheese is available in these single-serve cups, but they’re also sold as box dinners that involve doing more than adding water and mixing.
The Bold & Cheesy variety is pretty much the adjective-heavy way of saying original Cheetos flavor. Does it taste like the beloved snack? It does, but it’s a bit unsatisfying to get the famous cheesiness this way. I’ll explain more after I go through all the varieties. But this one is my favorite of the three.
Cheesy Jalapeno is a Cheetos variety I’ve eaten twice, but I can’t remember the last time I had it or how it tastes. So I don’t know if this mac ’n cheese’s flavor comes close to it. It has a strong jalapeno scent and taste that’s slightly more potent than the cheese. It’s also a tad spicy, but not as much as the Flamin’ Hot one. As I ate it, I kept thinking chile con queso.
As for the Flamin’ Hot Mac ’N Cheese, it was, unfortunately, disappointing. It made me sweat a little, but I don’t know if it was the hot noodles or Flamin’ Hot seasoning that caused it. Also, it started off tasty, but about halfway through the cup, it became a bit bland, and the spiciness kind of fizzled. Also, and this might be just me, the angry red/Swedish Fish/B-movie blood color is a little off-putting.
The Bold & Cheesy and Cheesy Jalapeno varieties are decent, but with all three, it’s like I’m eating a cheesy Cup Noodles instead of mac ’n cheese. Look, I’ve had Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Cups, so I kind of expected the slightly watery texture of the sauce. But I feel like something that’s Cheetos flavored deserves better because most variations of the snack are addictive and hard to put down. I can’t say the same about these.
They could be improved, though. Most of the appeal for Cheetos is its cheesiness, but there’s also the crunch factor, which these lack. Yes, we could add some of the crunchy snack ourselves, but it would be easier for Frito-Lay to include some crushed Cheetos that we could use like bread crumbs to top the mac ‘n cheese. I’m pretty sure the folks there have no problem getting access to tons of the stuff.
As I mentioned earlier, Cheetos Mac ’N Cheese is also available in boxes that call for butter and milk to prepare them, which seems like you’ll get a better end result. So I’d recommend purchasing those instead of these single-serve cups.
DISCLOSURE: I received free samples of the product. (Thanks, Cheetos!) Doing so did not influence my review.
Purchased Price: FREE Size: 2.32 oz cup (Bold & Cheesy), 2.25 oz cup (Cheesy Jalapeno), 2.11 oz cup (Flamin’ Hot) Purchased at: Received from Cheetos Rating: 6 out of 10 (Bold & Cheesy), 6 out of 10 (Cheesy Jalapeno), 4 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot) Nutrition Facts: (1 package) Bold & Cheesy – 240 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 690 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein. Cheesy Jalapeno
I’m more impressed with the shape of the Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Pepper Puffs than how spicy they are.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, these bring some heat, but I can’t help but admire how these look. In the photo below, it appears as if I’m holding a semi-cooled, pepper-shaped nugget of lava.
Of course, Frito-Lay has shown over the past few years that it knows how to shape a corn puff. We’ve seen eggs, bones, paws, stars, snowflakes, and shapes only eBay sellers can see, but this one deserves the chef’s kiss because I imagine it must’ve been difficult to include the stem, which really sells the pepper shape.
The stem also has been influencing how I eat them. With each one so far, I’ve grabbed it by the small extension and used it as a handle to put the puff into my mouth. I think, and I’m sure it will never happen, this should be the default shape for any Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
The bag claims it’s the “Hottest Ever!” but I’m not sure of that because I have more painful memories with Xxtra Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The heat takes some time to kick in, so these puffs kind of trick you into thinking they aren’t so bad. But these are noticeably spicier than original Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheetos, maybe 50 percent more intense.
I definitely can’t chain eat them like regular Flamin’ Hot products. Instead, I’m enjoying the puffs in small doses, like five or so. Even my nose knows these are spicier because normal Flamin’ Hot doesn’t turn my nose into a snot faucet when eating them.
In terms of flavor, these have the familiar Flamin’ Hot seasoning but amped up a bit. While they are spicy, they’re not so hot that it completely distracts your taste buds from the peppery, oniony, garlicky, and slightly cheesy seasoning.
Obviously, Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Pepper Puffs are not for everyone. If you find Flamin’ Hot, well, flamin’ hot, then I don’t need to tell you to avoid these. If you’re a card-carrying member of the Flamin’ Hot fandom, then you have to get them. But they’re around for only two weeks, so you should’ve started looking yesterday.
DISCLOSURE: Although, I bought this bag on eBay, I later received a free sample of the product from the folks at Walmart. I probably didn’t really need to tell you that since this review was finished before obtaining the sample. But I guess I disclosed it to let you know I like these enough that I’m happy I got another bag of it.
Purchased Price: Too much on eBay Size: 7 oz. bag Purchased at: eBay (being sold at Walmart) Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 24 pieces) 170 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.
Some of you might have questions after seeing these bags of Cheetos Popcorn, like:
Is this like Chester’s Popcorn that has been around for a while?
Will Cheetos and Flamin’ Hot seasoning ever be bottled so I can put it on my own popcorn, chips, pretzels, and fingertips?
Is Chester Cheetah skinny because he runs a lot or because he doesn’t have a typical cheetah diet and eats only Cheetos-flavored products?
I can’t answer any of those questions, but I do know Cheetos Popcorn, both Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot varieties, taste like what you would expect from popcorn that’s coated with Cheeto Dust. Oh wait, I’m sorry. I’m obligated to write, “coated with Cheetle.”
Now I’m sure the term “Cheetle” brings up more questions, like:
Is that some kind of orange beetle? Are these coated in orange beetles? Is this like a real-life Slurm?
Why is the cheesy dust on Cheetos named after Don Cheetle? Also, how come he doesn’t get to have his own Marvel movie?
“Cheetle” is the official name of what we used to call, unofficially, Cheeto Dust. It’s the stuff that gets stuck to our fingers while eating Cheetos with our hands and goes down our noses when we pour the cheesy snack into our mouths from the bag.
And it’s Cheetle that gives Cheetos Popcorn Cheddar its vibrant orange color and that cheesiness we know and remove from our fingers using our mouths. Like a bag of Cheetos (Puffs or Crunchy), I could eat this popcorn all day. It’s that good. However, I could see how some folks might find the level of flavor to be too mild.
There is one odd thing I noticed about the snack. When I suck the Cheeto Du…I mean, Cheetle off my fingers, it tastes like Cheez-It crackers. Maybe that’s just me and my fingertips excrete cracker-flavored sweat. Yeah, suck it, dogs and your Fritos-smelling paws!
As for the Flamin’ Hot one, I didn’t care for it at first. Initially, it tasted like Cheetos was doing a crossover with Campbell’s to create spicy V8-flavored popcorn. But after eating a few more, the popcorn began to taste more like the Flamin’ Hot I’ve come to love.
Despite our rough introduction, I ended up liking the red-coated popcorn, although not as much as the Cheddar ones. Also, I don’t know if it’s just me again, but I found the level of spiciness to be lower than other Flamin’ Hot products, even though every kernel is coated so well that they look like the head of Captain America’s nemesis, Red Skull.
With both varieties, I thought the popped kernels were noticeably smaller than other packaged popcorn I’ve procured, but I guess that means more could fit in the bag.
If you’ve wanted Cheetos (or Flamin’ Hot) flavoring on a snack with slightly better nutritional values than corn puffs and chips, then there’s no question Cheetos Popcorn is what you want.
DISCLOSURE: I’d like to thank Cheetos for sending me free samples. Receiving them did not influence my review in any way. Although, the 8 out of 10 rating might make you suspicious. But I assure you getting free samples did not.
Purchased Price: FREE Size: 7 oz. bag (Cheddar), 6 1/2 oz. bag (Flamin’ Hot) Purchased at: Received from Cheetos Rating: 8 out of 10 (Cheddar), 7 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot) Nutrition Facts: (28 grams) Cheddar – 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein. Flamin’ Hot – 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.