Cheetos – Can’t Corn Snacks Do Better? [Inside the Label]

Show me a child with orange fingers and a mustache of yellow crumbs, and I’ll show you an empty bag of Cheetos nearby. This crunchy snack from Frito-Lay has been around for ages, and is very popular with kids. Chester Cheetah, the official mascot, has been trying to win adult fans in recent years as well.

This is a snack, so we don’t expect any health benefits. But let’s see if there is any downside to this brightly colored finger food.

What you need to know:

A serving is 21 pieces. Maybe a 2 year old can stop at 21 pieces, but most kids will down much more than that. Each of these servings is 160 calories and contains 10 grams of fat, 2 of which are saturated. The fat is 15% of the daily value. Now imagine you down a more average serving size that is 2-3 times the minuscule amount. You’ll have used up between one third to one half of your daily fat allowance. The sodium level is 290mg or 12% of the daily value per “serving”. There are no vitamins or minerals worthy of discussion.

Here’s a quick peek at the ingredient list:

Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Contains One or More of the Following: Corn, Soybean, or Sunflower Oil), Cheese Seasoning (Whey, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), and Less than 2% of the Following: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Maltodextrin, Disodium Phosphate, Sour Cream (Cultured Cream, Nonfat Milk), Artificial Flavor, Monosodium Glutamate, Lactic Acid, Artificial Color (Including Yellow 6), Citric Acid), and Salt.

The leading ingredients make sense – corn, oil, and some sort of cheese. It’s the extras, though, that make us cringe. First up – partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. This means trans-fat is present in the product. It appears as zero in the nutrition facts panel because of a loophole in FDA regulations that allows manufacturers to round down a value smaller than half a gram per serving, down to zero. But even half a gram of trans-fat is very unhealthy. And as most people consume much more than the suggested serving size, they may be getting much more trans-fat than they bargained for.

Then there is artificial flavor, which nobody knows its makeup, as it is a trade secret. Why do corn, oil, and cheddar cheese need artificial flavorings? Aren’t they flavorful enough? Whenever seeing a product artificially flavored, ask yourself why the base ingredients weren’t tasty enough on their own.

The MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is responsible for the umami (savory) flavor, but some people steer away from it as it causes them allergic reactions. And then there’s the artificial colors. Glowing orange is not a natural color, but it has become the trademark of Cheetos. Too bad Yellow #6 is used, an artificial coloring that is derived from a possible carcinogen, and also has been shown to cause hyperactivity in children.

What to do at the supermarket:

As corn snacks go, popcorn is your best bet. Just make sure to limit the additional ingredients (oil, salt). Even unflavored Doritos or Tostitos, Cheeto’s cousins, are a better choice.

  • Fight the Power

    Good Article… Not to be a stickler, but there are 8 grammar/spelling errors. I can live with a couple but 8 makes me wonder… Drinking before Mother’s day? Good stuff otherwise!

    Par1: No space before last sentence
    Par2: Period at beginning of sentence?
    Par3: Now imaging (imaging to imagining)
    Par3: one third to on half (on to one)
    Par4: much more tans-fat (tans to trans)
    Par5: Whenver seeing a (Whenver to Whenever)
    Par6: the MSG (The MSG)
    Par7: your best best (best best to best bet)

    • menotyou

      wow you have nothing better to do with your time then find grammar/spelling errors… wow! you need a hobby/life

      • mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

        Actually there are people whose job it is to make certain that those things are correct, most notably a writer’s. Sophistication in written communication is very important. It’s an accurate cultural barometer.

  • Editorial Staff

    @Fight the Power – thanks for pointing out the typos. Sloppy. Interested in an editorial position at the Fooducate blog ;-) ?

  • Fight the Power

    @Editorial Staff
    Hmmm interesting… Do you pay in Organic Veggies? Or just the self satisfaction of changing a culture for the better?

    You know where to find me. Here reading the Fooducate Blog!

  • Riverjns1234567

    whos the naked chick?

    • Shanehat

      a Dummy !

  • Mirandarice

    Most people eating Cheetos consider half to the full bag to be a serving size! EEK!

  • Teresa

    While talking with a friend, I noticed that he had Cheetos fingers. I offered him some tissue paper but he didn’t use them. I was puzzled and he explained that he ate the Cheetos the day before and the colour was still on his fingers even after a shower and multiple hand washes!

  • Shanehat

    What is Whey used for in other objects?

  • Jim Cooper

    No, there are no studies that show MSG causing allergic reactions. All such studies found no reactions. Remember MSG occurs naturally in many common foods.
    And there is only one study implying dyes cause hyperactivity (Jim Stevenson) but it was debunked by scientists preparing a report for the recent FDA meeting.
    On the trans fats, you are probably right.

    • Loretta

      MSG is very bad. It is an excitotoxin and can damage the brain. “There’s a nucleus in the hypothalamus called the arcuate nucleus, that controls your energy supply. That’s where leptin receptors are located and growth hormones. And it is the most sensitive place in the entire brain, it’s virtually wiped out by high doses of MSG.
      We know there’s a lot of damage to that nucleus and there’s good evidence that this obesity epidemic is caused by damage to that nucleus by the large amount of MSG put in food.”

      Learn more:

      Learn more: taken from Health Ranger’s interview with Dr. Blaylock.

      • Jim Cooper

        Sorry. MSG occurs naturally in cheese, tomatoes, broccoli, and is found in soy sauce, Marmite and is eaten each day in he Japanese diet, and the Japanese are one of the world’s healthiest populations. It is harmless.
        Blaylock long ago went over to the “dark side” is is regarded by most scientists as an out and out quack.

      • Lala

        Perhaps if you’re mainlining glutamic acid, your brain might have a problem with ‘excitotoxins,’ but no one is eating food that contain MSG and sustaining brain damage.

  • Jim Cooper

    But what I really want to know is how long the model had to wash to get all that yellow goo off her.

    • Nic Durgy

      I licked it off her… YUM!

  • Gabbiwilder


  • Frank_beekfreak

    May I use the picture of the girl in the bathtub full of cheetos in my blog? I have a beekeeping blog and my bees come in looking like they had taken a bath in Cheetos….we call them Cheeto bees. I thought this picture might be a fun additions. All working bees are female so I thought this might be a fun play on pictures and words.

    If you would like to know the blog address just let me know. I get a lot of comments with links that appear as spam. Since I could not find a direct e-mail link I hope this works.
    Thank you,
    Frank at thebeekeepersdigest

  • Gabor Gary Szabo

    I hope that tub is clean, cuz that’s pretty nasty if you got a pube swallowed on accident

  • Joost Canters for those who are still eating these

  • hypnox

    this image was taken by HYPNOX.

  • Rafael Röder

    @SistineSeagull says “If you see the smoke come out and its orange, that means “Send more Cheetos” #conclave”

  • Nnamdi Ariwodo

    ha ha shes like want one?

  • globo

    mmm i love cheetos i just wanna smell the girl in this photo

  • cheechee

    I don’t want the cheetos that touched her center.

  • James Haynes

    id like to eat about 15 servings out of that bath tub and see whats below the ‘water line’… cutie!