REVIEW: Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Tangy Chili Fusion

I’m not sure if this is true in every region or state, but in the Bay Area of California, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos reign supreme. I would imagine it’s the same in at least Los Angeles, San Diego, and most of Texas, where the youth get adapted to heat seeking at an early age. Whether eaten straight, topped with fresh lime juice, or dunked into cream cheese, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have felt like a dominant force since they burst onto the snack scene in 1992.

Until relatively recently, though, Frito-Lay has kept it pretty modest with the varieties — Flamin’ Hot, Xxtra Flamin’ Hot, Puffs, and Limon being the only changes that come to mind until 2017’s Chipotle Ranch twist — one of my personal favorites. In recent years the Flamin’ Hot floodgates have opened and the seasoning has popped up on several other chip styles and flavor remixes, including the latest member of Chester Cheeto’s family, Flamin’ Hot Tangy Chili Fusion.

When I first saw the name and color of the bag of this new Cheetos, I envisioned a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos colliding with a purple bagged Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, and that’s kind of what these are like, but they’re absolutely in a spicy lane of their own, too.

The color is the same menacingly deep red that instantly stains your fingers, with a pungent, spicy, and smoky aroma that wafts from the bag. The most notable flavor that immediately jumps out is the smokiness, which has a sharp and intense bite like chipotle chili peppers. The smokiness quickly evolves into a more familiar Flamin’ Hot spice with just a touch of sweetness and finishes with a legit tangy acidic punch akin to vinegar and lemon juice. Crunching away at these slightly greasy airy delights is no problem at all, with the heat building as you eat, which encourages the salty snacking spiral like no other.

I was expecting a more pronounced sweetness, probably because of my Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos association, but it never really comes, aside from a bit of herbaceous bell peppery flavor. In fact, when tasting these side by side with a bag of Flamin’ Hot Limon, the Tangy Chili Fusion is less sweet and more sharply tangy than the Limon, which has a citrusy sweetness that’s even more pronounced next to the smoky charred tang and bold intensity of the Fusion.

It will be interesting to see how long these stick around because they’re very good, but I’m not sure many would choose them over the original Flamin’ Hot, and I certainly wouldn’t take them over my favorite all-time Cheetos Mexican Street Corn. Tangy Chili Fusion is a fun and surprisingly aggressive twist on a modern classic from the king of spicy, salty snacks.

Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 8.5 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (21 pieces, 28g) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 grams of total sugars, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Sweet Carolina Reaper

Cheetos Flamin Hot Sweet Carolina Reaper Bag

Us Americans have a real need for speed spicy!

Apparently, spicy snacks are growing (in terms of sales) twice as fast as overall snacks. So, Chester Cheetah naturally gets in on the action with another option for us voracious heat seekers.

The latest limited-edition launch is the Flamin’ Hot Sweet Carolina Reaper flavor, and they’re currently only available at Walmart.

As I opened the package and took a deep sniff, I picked up that usual hot “cheeteau” (eau de Hot Cheeto that honestly smells a little bit like feet sometimes), but I detected a slight tickle at the end. I chalked it up to Carolina Reaper reigning supreme as the world’s hottest pepper again.

I also noticed that it has the same color as a regular Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. This meant that the seasoning was super consistent, which is not always the case for salty snacks but is always the case with Cheetos. Kudos for quality!

Cheetos Flamin Hot Sweet Carolina Reaper Back

Since the back of the packaging loudly proclaimed in all caps: “SWEET MEETS HEAT,” I had high hopes that Chester wouldn’t completely blast my taste buds like the Hot Pepper Puffs. Those were really one-note blistering spicy.

Thankfully, I was not disappointed!

The sweetness hit first, followed by the reaper burn. While the sweet notes tempered the capsaicin, it was still pretty spicy. After shoveling a couple of handfuls into my mouth, one tear slowly trickled down my left eye, then my stomach started to feel spicy, and then it was full-blown (happy) tears.

Cheetos Flamin Hot Sweet Carolina Reaper Closeup

The spicy stomach step definitely came way earlier than with my usual Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It also lingered for a fair bit. I didn’t even want to lick the cheetle off my fingertips because I didn’t need to add fuel to the fire in my mouth.

Did I stop to have milk or a beverage to help my cause? Absolutely not. I just wanted to enjoy that sweet, sweet burn!

Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Sweet Carolina Reaper was an awesome and unique flavor journey. It’s different from the other spicy snacks and Chester’s other Flamin’ Hot offerings.

I love spiciness with depth and dimension, and this delivered that in spades. My only regret is that I didn’t pick up two bags! I gotta stock up the next time I see ’em!

Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 8.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (21 pieces or 28 g) – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of total sugars, less than 1 gram of fiber, and 1 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ruffles Flamin’ Hot Cheddar & Sour Cream Potato Chips

Ruffles Flamin Hot Cheddar  Sour Cream Potato Chips Bag

I feel comfortable sharing something rather controversial with you all: I can’t stand Cheetos, crunchy or puffed. (Feel free to express your outrage in the comments.)

As the tastebuds of my peers developed to handle Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, I was envious that there wasn’t a Flamin’ Hot food for me to call my own. Luckily Frito-Lay began to add the seasoning to other munchies, and I could finally join my friends in doling out some bright red high fives. The newest snack to stain my fingers is the Ruffles Flamin’ Hot Cheddar & Sour Cream Potato Chips.

Ruffles Flamin Hot Cheddar  Sour Cream Potato Chips Lebron

The bag says the flavor is by LeBron James and it features a large photo of him and some inspirational words that tie into Ruffles’ “Own Your Ridges” campaign. I’m not sure if the flavor was LeBron’s idea or if he just supports Ruffles Flamin’ Hotting its cheddar and sour cream potato chip, but with the popularity of Flamin’ Hot snack foods in Los Angeles, a partnership with the Lakers star makes perfect sense.

Ruffles Flamin Hot Cheddar  Sour Cream Potato Chips Inside Bag

In the bag, the chips smelled very similar to the regular Cheddar & Sour Cream but with an added vinegary tang. They had that same richly colored Flamin’ Hot powder that coats other chips and puffs, and it was a generous covering that made the not hot version seem under-dusted by comparison.

Ruffles Flamin Hot Cheddar  Sour Cream Potato Chips Red Not Red

True to the name, these tasted like a Flamin’ Hot version of the Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles. Cheese and sour cream have long been standard accompaniments for spicy foods, and the pairing made just as much sense on these chips. The Flamin’ Hot powder felt comfortably at home with the cheddar and sour cream dust, but also switched things up a bit. Unlike the regular Cheddar & Sour Cream, which is very cheese flavor-forward, the acidic coating on the Flamin’ Hot version really brought out the sour cream, which was a welcome change for this fan of sour ‘n’ spicy foods. Additionally, Ruffles are robust chips and really hold their own when given the Flamin’ Hot treatment. I loved the substantial crunch and full potato taste of the chip underneath all that zesty seasoning.

Ruffles Flamin Hot Cheddar  Sour Cream Potato Chips Red

Like other Flamin’ Hot snacks I’ve tried, the spice level disarmed me by being minimal at first but then building after a serving or two. Even then, these chips never noticeably burned my mouth or stomach, and I only realized they were getting to me once my nose started to run. Others may wish these Ruffles were more picante, but I feel like they had the right amount of heat to allow one to eat them by the handful without a night of heartburn.

On that note, it seems I almost finished the entire bag as I wrote this review. Bright red high five to whoever can tell me the best way to get Flamin’ Hot Cheetle out of a laptop keyboard.

Purchased Price: $3.49 (on sale, originally $4.79)
Size: 8 oz bag
Purchased at: Ralphs
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (28 grams/about 13 chips) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Doritos

Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Bag

Look out! Chester Cheetah and his mischievous buddy Sparky are unleashing their wild sides again, this time blasting fiery clouds of spicy, neon red Cheetle all over poor, unsuspecting Cool Ranch Doritos. What exactly is fueling this fire? Did the folks at Frito-Lay accidentally make way too much Hot dust and the solution to this abundance is to dump it on everything?

Okay, I’m a little biased. I enjoy spicy foods but just can’t get behind Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It isn’t that they’re too hot, but I find whatever the hot stuff is detracts from my enjoyment of the classic Cheetos taste. I acknowledge that I’m in the minority here because Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have a fierce and loyal following, and Frito-Lay knows it. It’s no accident that they’re sprinkling this seasoning on every product they make. More red dye 40 means more sales. Hot is popular and it’s my own fault I’ve never warmed to the concept.

Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Compare

With probable disappointment in mind, I still couldn’t help but pick up the familiar blue Cool Ranch bag, now featuring its corny triangle engulfed in flames. A peek inside revealed the expected aggressively red powder, and I figured I knew what I was in for. Some of the chips are liberally coated, but others seem almost like regular Cool Ranch Doritos that were spared the dousing of hell pollen.

Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Closeup

I ate one. Then three more. These chips still taste like Cool Ranch! In fact, Cool Ranch is the first thing I taste and continue to taste, even if my fingers are bright red. I have to eat several of them before the heat starts creeping in, and when it does make its presence known, it doesn’t overwhelm. It’s a pleasant pepper heat, and the ranch flavor never takes a back seat to it. I actually like these. I like them a lot.

Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Plated

How hot are they? I’m not sure I’d call them Flamin’ because I have to eat a lot of these before I even begin to feel the need to reach for a cooling beverage, and they certainly aren’t so hot that I ever need to take a break from eating them. My almost empty bag can attest to that. I think a pretty perfect balance has been struck here. These taste like the chips everyone already loves but pack just slightly more of a punch. I can’t say that I prefer them to regular Cool Ranch Doritos, but I can embrace them in a way I’ve never been able to with Flamin’ Hot editions before.

Now that this door has been opened, does it mean I should finally make that box of Flamin’ Hot mac and cheese that’s been sitting in my cupboard for a year and a half? If I do, you can be sure I’m going to pour these Dorito crumbs on top.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 9 1/4 oz bag
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (28 grams – about 12 chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Flamin’ Hot Mtn Dew

Flamin Hot Mtn Dew Can

Flamin’ Hot Mtn Dew is not very spicy, which I don’t know if I should be disappointed about or thankful for.

When it was first announced, I had images of a hellish dark red beverage with a flavor and heat similar to Flamin’ Hot Limon Doritos. I thought it would be more of a gag drink, like Jones Soda Company’s Thanksgiving dinner-flavored sodas, most Lester’s Fixins varieties, or any Zevia soda. But it’s not a jokey drink. It’s surprisingly a drinkable drink.

Flamin Hot Mtn Dew Warning

Despite what the can says, it’s nowhere near what would be considered Flamin’ Hot in terms of flavor or spiciness. So caution is not necessary. You won’t need milk or a regular Mountain Dew to douse the fire in your mouth caused by this Dew. There’s a slight heat, but most of it is in the form of a back of the throat burn. There’s also some tingling in my mouth long after the red carbonated liquid has gone down my esophagus, but overall I’d consider it a low-level spiciness.

Flamin Hot Mtn Dew Red

As for the non-Flamin’ Hot flavor, it’s a slightly toned down regular Mountain Dew with a little something else. At times, I taste citrus, but Mtn Dew Code Red comes to mind with other sips. With its fruity flavor and mild spiciness, Flamin’ Hot Mtn Dew is, um, okay tasting and better than I thought it would be, but not I’m yearning for more. So if you send me a Flamin’ Hot Mtn Dew tasting party invitation because you were able to buy a pack online, I’d politely decline.

Oh, about purchasing this, if you’re so inclined to do so. It was available on the Mtn Dew website in limited quantities in 6-packs which sold out within several hours. Mtn Dew may sell it again. It may not. But if you don’t want to wait around to find out, you can get cans via eBay, which is where I got this one. Although, expect to pay a premium for them. I paid $14 with free shipping for a can, which is more than the price of a 6-pack ($12) when one could purchase it from the Mtn Dew online store.

I wouldn’t drink Flamin’ Hot Mtn Dew again. But it’s unique and drinkable enough that it’s something any Dew fan should try once.

Purchased Price: More than one should pay on eBay
Size: 16 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 220 calories, 0 grams of fat, 70 milligrams of sodium, 59 grams of carbohydrates, 58 grams of sugar, 58 grams of added sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 72 milligrams of caffeine.