Cheetos Giant and Pepsi Natural
Stronger, bigger, faster, smarter. In our constant quest to be better in every way, sometimes we forget what’s at the heart of our desires: basic fulfillment. We don’t stop to ask ourselves “Why?” And the snack companies, insidious bastards that they are, know this. They know we sample their wares if they make the slightest change—just to search for that original rush, that first snack love.
The Cheetos guys probably ran out of ideas, and, maybe inspired by Dave Barry’s 2004 blog post, decided, “Fuck it. Giant Cheetos. Who cares if they’re actually harder to eat and taste pretty much exactly the same? Giant fucking Cheetos.” Picture the junior executive, fearing for his job, who floated the idea at the Frito-Lay board meeting. He got dressed for work that day, desperately worried that the collapsing economy was going to cost him his do-nothing job, and he decided to shoot blindfolded from half-court. “What have I got to lose?” he thought. “GIANT FUCKING CHEETOS.”
And lo, the old fat man at the head of the table looked puzzled, then angry, then pleased. “Junior executive that Josh just made up,” he bellowed, “you are a genius!” Various snack chips fell from the sky, and the scientists at Cheetos World Headquarters designed a new nozzle from which to spray and shape their enriched corn meal, vegetable oil, whey, and MSG. The kids in the retail department had a field day: “We can sell five of these ping-pong-ball-sized Cheetos for 59 cents! It’s about as much product as in those quarter bags, but we can spend less on packaging!”
All right, enough of that. This is beginning to sound like an anti-corporate sermon, and really, I don’t give a shit. Giant Cheetos (actual name, according to the packaging: Cheetos Giant) are a stupid idea, sure, but they taste like Cheetos, and that’s just fine with pretty much everybody who ate them. They’re big, to be sure, and slightly unwieldy, but whatever. They’re giant Cheetos. They also come in Flamin’ Hot flavor.
The only way to make this particular Taste Test extra-fun was to add some bonus material. Here’s a video of Internet Eating Sensation Dave Chang trying to fit as many Giant Cheetos in his mouth as he can at once. Before the test, he claimed he could do 10. Ha.
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Next we tried the microwave, which turned a Flamin’ Hot giant Cheeto into a ball of molten stink. The office filled up with acrid smells, and we had to apologize profusely to IT godhead Dave Rosen, whose office is right next to the kitchen. Sorry again, Dave. But Chang ate it, even after he discovered that the inside was completely black, and that the whole thing “tastes like ash.”
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To throw another curveball into the mix, we tried some Mexican-style Cheetos as well: Torciditos Chile Y Limon. Chester Cheetah looks like a total badass on the packaging (which also features a chili pepper wearing a luchador mask), and the Cheetos themselves were actually delicious—not as blatantly spicy as Flamin’ Hot, but with a nice little kick, and the citrus flavor, though totally fakey, was good. Gracias, Senor leopardo cazador! (And gracias, iGoogle translator.)
Also far too boring to taste-test on its own: Pepsi Natural. Yes, one of the big two (and not the good one) has gotten into the “natural” game, complete with earth-toned, feminine packaging. Pepsi Natural has cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, natural flavors (tartaric acid, from grapes), and a classy glass bottle with a raised logo. This ain’t your Grandma’s Pepsi! Wait, maybe it is. It tastes just like those other natural colas, but not as good as Coke. And definitely not as good as Mexican Coke, which is made with sugar instead of corn syrup, too. Still, it tastes better than regular Pepsi, but it’s not worth the trip to your all-natural grocer, or Target. (Or England, where it’s sold as Pepsi Raw.)
• “It looks like a giant neon-orange marshmallow.”
• “Oh my God, I want one!”
• “I think it scratched the roof of my mouth. I’m injured.”
• “I don’t think it’s something that should be enlarged. It’s all texture with less flavor. It’s just a harder, huge puffy Cheeto.”
• “I found Giant Cheetos hard to chew without scraping the roof off my mouth. I’m not Martha Raye, for cryin’ out loud.”
• “Eating just one seemed like a real chore. If you try biting one ball in half, you end up with a lot of orange on your lips.”
• “They taste just like Cheetos. Just more of them.”
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Giant
• “It looks like it has red lint all over it.”
• “It looks like the stuffing on gym mats.”
• “There’s more surface area, so it’s more tolerable in terms of spice.”
• “It’s like eating a regular Cheeto with a Flaming Hot Cheeto.”
Chile Y Limon Cheetos
• “Ooh yeah, that has that delicious Mexican-candy smell to it.”
• “They’re really dark.”
• “The Mexican Cheetos were really good. Spicy but not too hot. Plus it has wrestling masks.”
• “Oh no, I wish I didn’t know how good these are.”
• “It's salt, citrus, and a little spice all in the same crunchy package. What’s not to like?”
• “This is the exact same chili powder they give you in chili ramen.”
• “The lime aftertaste is really refreshing. It’s the world’s most refreshing Cheeto!”
• “It smells kinda gingery.”
• “Pepsi Natural tastes very watered-down, like a Pepsi with too much ice.”
• “It tastes like natural shit.”
• “Nah, it tastes a little like iced tea.”
• “I like the sugar in it. The sweetness lingers a lot longer.”
• “It does taste a little like the Red Bull cola. And that’s not something you should emulate.”
Where to find them: We got Cheetos Giant and the Mexican Cheetos at 7-11, and the Pepsi Natural at Target.