REVIEW: Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs

Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs

If a Cheeto isn’t cheese flavored, is it even a Cheeto? Would a Cheeto by any other name smell as sweet?

These questions have puzzled scholars and philosophers for ages. Ok, well at least since 2015 when Frito-Lay first introduced Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs. The brand’s first foray into sweet snacks was, shall we say, a little underwhelming. So imagine my surprise to see that Cheetos Sweetos have multiplied and their new Caramel Puffs have bounced onto grocery store shelves just in time for what Frito-Lay calls the “spring snacking season,” but normal people might call “Easter.”

I imagine that this is all a sneaky ploy by Frito-Lay so that moms and dads – sorry…I mean, Easter Bunnies – everywhere might make room in Easter baskets for some crunchy snacks. Judging by the caramel-induced sugar high that Chester Cheetah seems to be having on the packaging, I imagine that this would be welcomed by children all over the world.

I opened my bag of Caramel Puff Sweetos, and was immediately accosted by a horribly artificial caramel scent, reminiscent of an off-brand candle you’d pick up at a drug store on the way to a birthday party you forgot about. The smell wafted throughout my entire apartment, causing my boyfriend to shriek with disgust from another room.

Each Sweeto is vaguely “Neil Armstrong’s bootprint on the moon” shaped, and is dusted with a heaping helping of brown powder. Surprisingly, unlike regular Cheetos, the powder stays firmly adhered to the Sweeto and doesn’t come off on your fingertips, which I guess is good for keeping astronaut gloves clean.

Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs 2

Preparing for the worst, I popped a Sweeto into my mouth, and was shocked by how quickly the Sweeto dissolved on my tongue like a sickly-sweet breath strip. The artificial caramel flavor is only recognizable for a second, and then is immediately replaced by the taste of corn, which is then further replaced by an off-putting aftertaste. It’s like the Matryoshka doll of bad snack food.

Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs 3

While Chester the Cheetah’s caramel-induced-fever-dream on the packaging would make you think differently, there’s really no fun in eating Sweetos. When it comes down to it, they’re a jazzed up snack that blasphemes Cheetos. Sweetos aren’t sweet enough to earn that name, although I suppose Corntos doesn’t have the same ring to it.

In conclusion, a bag of Sweetos Caramel Puffs in your Easter basket is like the coal in your Christmas stocking. Be a good boy or girl and you’ll get some Flamin’ Hots instead.

(Nutrition Facts – about 25 pieces – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 7 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: “Look Ma, clean hands!” The Electric Sweetos Acid Test. Making bad Easter puns.
Cons: Eau du drug store candle. Barely discernable sweetness. Incredibly artificial.

REVIEW: Frito Lay Mountain Dew Corn Snack (Mountain Dew Cheetos)

Mountain Dew Doritos 1

I like spaceships. Serenity, the Enterprise, Galactica, Bebop, the Nostromo, the Yamato, the Heart of Gold, the Protector, the Discovery, Prometheus. All of them. I even like real spaceships like the space shuttle Atlantis and the Millennium Falcon.

They represent what’s out there. The great unknown. The vast expanses of the galaxy and the universe. And it saddens me that the national space program is in such a state of decline. If we don’t continue to expand our presence into the Local Group, how are we going to colonize and terraform Mars? How are we going to make first contact? How can we even start to think about making the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs?

The answer is that none of these things is going to be happening anytime soon unless we find a major reason to motivate us. Clearly the huddled masses aren’t interested in learning or human achievement, so I believe the motivation lies in snack food.

At some point, we’re going to run out of food ideas. Mathematically this seems inevitable. There is a finite number naturally occurring foods on our planet, so there is an equally finite number of ways to combine them. We are already there. When molecular gastronomists are forced reduce garden peas to their essence to be huffed from a balloon animal made from a section of a bison’s intestinal tract, it seems the end is almost nigh.

We’ve already started remixing with our processed foods. Bacon’s been smashed into every product in every grocery aisle. Name something you bought in October or November that didn’t have pumpkin in it. Impossible.

Even the corporations who are in charge of these things are running out of ideas. They’ve been reduced to farming out ideas to the common man through flavor contests.

The end is on its way, you guys. And that end, that day when everything has been combined with everything else, is going to be the day we head back into space. People may not be excited about studying moon rocks, but they’ll sure as hell be excited about the possibility of Limited Edition Romulan Ale Doritos and Blue Bantha Milk Oreos.

Until that day, we’ll continue dreaming and smashing together things we have. And we do that today with these Mountain Dew Cheetos from the Japanese arm of Frito-Lay.

Mountain Dew Doritos 3

As with the Pepsi-flavored Cheetos I reviewed a while back, the color of these things bothers me. Not making them bright Mountain Dew green is a wasted opportunity. This kind of product is a novelty and an attention getter, and their color should reflect that. Orange Cheetos-dusted fingers are a tradition. How great would obnoxiously green Mountain Dew Cheetos fingers be?! Pretty damn great.

The nosegrope of these Cheetos is very intensely citrus. There is a lot of lemon, and they smell sweet. There is also an underlying current of stale, flat cola. They smell very similar to the Pepsi Cheetos but with the lemon ratcheted up.

The flavor recreation they were going for falls a bit short of their goal. There is an initial blast of sour lemon flavor that is followed by some underlying sweetness. The lemon flavor tastes pretty artificial. I don’t have a problem with artificial flavors, obviously, but it tastes artificial to the point where it forces you to stop and think of the artificialness.

Mountain Dew Doritos 3

The sour blast is a bit too much here. It takes the Cheetos from the realm of “Mountain Dew” to the realm of…something with a lot of lemons. I know people who have consumed a Star Destroyer’s worth of Mountain Dew in their lives, and I’m not confident they could blind taste this and come up with anything other than a quizzical “something lemony.”

Like the Pepsi Cheetos, the aftertaste of these lingers for a very long time. I also didn’t get as much mouth-fizzing action as I hoped for. The Pepsi Cheetos are definitely the superior hybrid food, but that’s not saying a lot.

Mountain Dew Doritos 2

These are not bad. A lemon-flavored corn snack is not a terrible idea, but a lemon-flavored corn snack is really all we get here. Nothing transcendent, nothing revelatory. Just a good idea that is off the mark.

I’m already looking forward to Dr. Pepper Cheetos (and distantly to Klingon Bloodwine Kit Kats.) Until then!

(Nutrition Facts – 188 kcal, 10.3 grams of fat, 221 milligrams of sodium, 22.1 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.8 grams of protein.)

Item: Frito Lay Mountain Dew Corn Snack (Mountain Dew Cheetos)
Purchased Price: $4.50
Size: 35 grams
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Lemons. Sour blasts. Spaceships.
Cons: Wrong color. Too much lemon to be Mountain Dew. Lingering aftertaste. Lack of fizz.

REVIEW: Frito Lay Cheetos x Pepsi Shuwa Shuwa Cola Corn Snack (Pepsi-Flavored Cheetos)

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 1

In 1818, Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein, arguably the world’s first science fiction novel. It tells the harrowing tale of Victor Frankenstein, a single-minded student of science driven to ruin by his obsession with bestowing life on inanimate matter.

In the 1990 documentary RoboCop 2, director Irvin Kershner leads us on an exploration of the science of transferring human consciousness into deadly law enforcement robots. We quickly discover the dangers of such a procedure, as multiple test subjects commit suicide after finding themselves forever trapped in their mechanical bodies.

In 1994’s Jurassic Park, noted chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm sums up the fears of late twentieth century society when commenting on the science of an island resort filled with genetically resurrected dinosaurs, saying, “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Time after time we are warned against charging recklessly into the untamed wilderness of science and technology, yet even in the last few years we find ourselves with peanut butter and jelly vodka, cronuts, Doritos Locos Tacos, Cherry Coke, and pizzas with hot dogs in the crust. These aren’t dinosaurs or robots. These are things we put willingly into our bodies.

So today I publish this review not so much as a review but as a mile marker for future historians to look to when our inevitable self-destruction finally occurs.

These Pepsi-flavored Cheetos are the latest food hybrid to spit in the eye of Mother Nature. They are from Japan.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 3

The nosegrope upon opening the bag gave me pause. I immediately identified something very close to flat cola. Flat Pepsi? I dunno. My nose palate is not so refined. Something else was there in equal measure and it took me a moment to realize that the aroma was the same given off by powdered cinnamon donuts. You know, the Entenmann’s ones in the three pack with powdered sugar and plain.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 4

In these snacks the cheese powder has been replaced with a cola powder that is disturbingly not brown. The first sensation, which I did not expect, was a very acidic bite. It’s very citrusy, almost sour. And it hits hard. It tries to capture the citrus notes of Pepsi, but it’s over the top. Too lemony. The sweeter cola flavor is there but it’s subtler and overpowered by the intense citrus. The flavors are very distinct and don’t really ever mesh well together. But they do linger in the mouth for quite a while to leave you with a weird, marginally accurate, if lemony, Pepsi aftertaste. The corn puff tastes like it should. It doesn’t do a lot besides acting as a vehicle, which is good because there is already a lot going on.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 2

Oh, did I mention these also fizz a little?! Yea! Not like crazy Pop Rocks fizzing, but there is some definite popping and crackling. It’s all about attention to detail, guys. I tip my hat to Frito-Lay for that one.

Overall, this is a pretty accurate flavor recreation. It’s an impressive effort to be sure. That said, I don’t like them. I could only get through a few of them. They’ve got a lot going on and are kind of intense. A few tweaks to the levels of citrus and cola and these could be passable.

These wouldn’t be in my top 100 dream flavor what-ifs, but I’m glad they exist. They either point to a futuristic flavor-fusion utopia in which anything is possible or an apocalyptic hell place where cyborg velociraptors chew our faces off with laser teeth.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package – 414 kcal, 24.8 grams of fat, 614 milligrams of sodium, 44.6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Frito Lay Cheetos x Pepsi Shuwa Shuwa Cola Corn Snack
Purchased Price: $3.99 (plus shipping)
Size: 75 gram bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Pepsi-ish. A for effort. Fizzing snacks. Science.
Cons: Lingering aftertaste. Lemon. robot dinosaurs.

REVIEW: Giant Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Cheetos Giant Flamin' Hot

The look of each Giant Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is extremely frightening because it reminds me of the 3D computer graphic simulation of the Earth and the molten lava coming out of it after a killer asteroid hits it, which I’ve seen on a Discovery Channel show about the extinction of dinosaurs.

I don’t know whether I should eat them or hold one up in front of a video camera and record a voice over for a dinosaur documentary that begins with, “Some scientists believe the extinction of dinosaurs was caused by a meteorite that created the Chicxulub crater in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.”

As you can see below Chester the Cheetah’s ass in the packaging photo, the Giant Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is covered with a bright red color that’s usually found on the lips of mistresses and on the collars of cheating bastards. The red powder that covers its exterior, obviously, provides the heat, but perhaps there’s too much heat because I feel it overwhelms any cheesy flavor.

Actually, the flavor from these great balls of fire makes my tongue feel like it’s on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland — starts off boring, then there’s a little excitement (heat), then it’s slightly cheesy, more excitement (heat) and then disappointment.

Overall, I don’t really care for the ping pong ball-sized Giant Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. There’s not enough cheese flavor in it, making them pretty much flavorless. The red spicy coating seems to make the rest of it its bitch, not allowing it to say anything.

I also find the idea of giant Cheetos stupid, because I feel when a company makes a smaller or larger version of their product, it usually means that the creative juices have run out. I definitely think this was the case here and that the creative juices ran out because they needed to drink something to cool down their mouths after eating the Giant Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 4% vitamin E and 2% iron.)

Item: Giant Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
Price: $2.88
Size: 7 3/4 ounces
Purchased at: Wal-Mart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: It’s new. It’s hot, if you’re into that. The packaging looks like Chester the Cheetah is burning his ass.
Cons: I feel the heat overwhelmed the flavor. The red color is off-putting. It reminds me of the destruction of the Earth. Getting lipstick on my collar.

REVIEW: Caramel Doritos Sweets

Whenever I purchase or receive a product that on the outside seems like it’s going to make me cringe, like finding an Adam’s apple on a blind date I met through Craigslist, I try to prepare for it the best I can. After receiving the Caramel Doritos Sweets from Japan, I went into full preparation mode, getting all my senses ready for what I felt was going to be gag worthy. It’s the same thing I did before trying the Pepsi Cucumber Ice.

To prepare my sense of touch, I plunged both arms into a bucket of ice. To get my sight ready, I stared at Tara Reid bikini pictures, which if you see them, you will know that it is 100 percent less sexy than it sounds.

To prepare my hearing, I listened to my poor attempts at becoming a turntablist during my high school years, scratching the 45 RPM record single for Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”

Don’t…chicka…chicka…chick…Don’t dream it’s over.

I prepared my sense of smell by making a three-bean chili, giving it all to a hungry homeless dude, and standing downwind from him. To prepare the sense of taste, I punished my tongue with a whip that came with the non-sanctioned Ken & Barbie Malibu After Dark S&M set with real leather that I bought in the Mature Audiences section of eBay.

While lashing my tongue with the small whip, I wondered if Japanese companies use things like prototypes, focus groups, or common sense when coming up with new food products. They have a tendency to make items that seem like something consumers don’t want, like breaded meat without the meat in bar form.

After my senses were prepared for the Caramel Doritos Sweets, I slowly opened the bag and a slightly sickly sweet aroma billowed out of it. “That smell is not a good sign,” I thought to myself as I peered into the packaging.

The Doritos inside didn’t look like the triangle-shaped Doritos that most people know and love. Instead they looked like small screw bits, which is appropriate, since this flavor seems like Frito-Lay Japan is screwing with us.

With all the preparation I did, I was ready for its taste to be unsurprisingly horrible, just like going ass-to-mouth, but it ended up tasting like slightly sweetened Fritos corn chips. The combination of sweet and salty was good with this crunchy snack, but I didn’t think its flavor was caramel-ish, it seemed more pancake syrup-ish.

Preparing my senses for a possibly bad tasting product was unnecessary this time. I got lucky with the Caramel Doritos Sweets, which is a tasty original product. I wish I could say the same for my Craigslist blind dates. Maybe I should stop looking in the Misc Romance section.

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Impulsive Buy reader Melbatoast for sending me a bag of Caramel Doritos Sweets from Japan. If she ever wants a Wendy’s Baconator, I’ll be glad to send it to her, although it probably won’t be edible by the time she gets it.)

Item: Caramel Doritos Sweets
Price: FREE
Purchased at: Received from reader Melbatoast
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Surprisingly good. Good combination of sweet and salty. Mature audiences section of eBay. Only available in Japan. Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”
Cons: Smells sickly sweet. Not caramel-ish. My turntablist skillz. Tara Reid in a bikini. Adam’s apples on blind dates.