The Cheetos brand is owned by Frito-Lay. That’s the same company behind Doritos.
American kids know what Cheetos are, but giving the snack a close inspection is not as easy as you think. There are nearly 20 varieties. I’m going to focus on what Frito-Lay calls “Crunchy Cheese Flavored Snacks” — these should be the iconic Cheetos we picture in our head. Marketers don’t choose these names by accident, so I am expecting the ingredients list to be a house of horrors.
Ingredients in Cheetos Crunchy Cheese Flavored Snacks
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), Whey, Salt, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), and less than 2% of the Following: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Maltodextrin, Disodium Phosphate, Sour Cream (Cultured Cream, Nonfat Milk), Artificial Flavor, Monosodium Glutamate, Lactic Acid, Artificial Color (Including Yellow 6) and Citric Acid.
I was wrong. Artificial color and artificial flavor are the only ingredients standing in the way of Cheetos gaining all-natural status. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil is iffy (and trans-fatty), but not unreasonable. And they use real cheddar cheese!
Artificial junk is a deal breaker for me, but for a high-markup snack this could have been a lot worse.