Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Puffs: Exactly How Spicy Are They?
What's the Flamin' Hot Cheetos Scoville score, and how were they created? Here are a few fun and interesting facts.
Most of us have a favorite treat and won’t settle for anything less.
But if you’re struggling to crown your favorite, we don’t blame you; with so many snack options at our fingertips, how can we ever choose?
One option stands out among the others for its legions of fans and ongoing popularity: Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
But how were these snacks created, and what is the Flamin' Hot Cheetos Scoville score? We've got all the info you'll ever need about these spicy chips right here.
Where did extra Flamin' Hot Cheetos come from?
The story behind these crunchy, flamin' snacks has all the drama of a rags-to-riches glam of a made-for-Hollywood story.
Frito-Lay janitor Richard Montañez allegedly invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in 1989 (a claim that the company has denied) before the product was perfected, packaged, and hit the shelves in 1992.
These days, the Cheeto snacks' popularity remains unchanged, and it's branched out into other flavors. The reasons for this popularity is the puffs' cheesy coating, the crunchy kick to each bite, and its relatively high rating on the Scoville scale.
How hot are Flamin' Hot Cheetos?
Named after its inventor, Wilbur Scoville, the Scoville scale assigns a unit of measurement to a hot pepper’s spiciness. It determines the unit by testing how it affects the body. The pepper’s oil is extracted, diluted with sugar water, and tasted. This process repeats until you can no longer feel the “heat” to determine how spicy it is.
The Scoville scale is comprehensive and it includes peppers like the Carolina Reaper, ghost pepper, jalapeno peppers, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, hot peppers, and habaneros. All peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which gives peppers their spice. Pure capsaicin has a Scoville rating of over 15 million, far outranking the hottest peppers.
So what do cheese puffs have to do with this?
Flamin' Hot Cheetos use peppers in the seasoning that gives this snack its spice. And while we don't have the official Scoville ranking of Cheetos, that hasn't stopped people from trying to guess the snack food's scale. (Unfortunately, none of these numbers can be verified at this time.)
The best way to guess their heat level is to compare these cheese puffs' hotness to other items already locked into the Scoville. Flamin' Hot Cheetos are often compared to cayenne pepper, which sits around 50,000 Scoville heat units.
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Facts about Flamin' Hot Cheetos
Beyond the fun origin story and the ongoing debate about their hotness, this bag of flamin’ “fun” has many interesting facts.
1. There’s been eBay excitement
In 2017, someone bid almost $100,000 for a Flamin' Hot Cheeto — just one. The Cheeto in question looked like Harambe, a gorilla from the Cincinnati Zoo who was famously shot.
2. There's a movie
You heard right. There's a movie in the works, directed by Eva Longoria about the creation of this snack. It's a biopic following the life and times of its declared creator, Richard Montañez. The working title of the film is "Flamin' Hot." Movie night, anyone?
3. They're addicting
Although Cheetos keep their ingredients 100% legal, the chemical makeup within this cheese-and-crisps combo causes a person to eat more than they should. The light, airy texture makes your mind think the snack is low in calories, which kills the "I'm full" red flag in your brain.
This side effect is called “vanishing caloric density” and contributes to the Cheetos’ addicting qualities. They taste good, but you don’t feel full, so you need to eat more to satisfy that craving. The reason Cheetos is so proficient in this area is that they’re made by feeding dollops of cornmeal through an extruder (a tool for forcing something out). Through this process, they’re popped and hollowed like popcorn. The hollowed-out interior helps them to melt on your tongue.
4. They've been banned
Because of this addictive quality and their low nutritional value, Flamin' Hot Cheetos have been previously banned from school districts in California, Illinois, and New Mexico, with some bans kicking in as early as 2012. Although current bans can vary by school district, these tasty treats are not going anywhere: a recent investigation by USA Today debunked rumors of their discontinuation.
Beyond issues with the vanishing caloric density, a serving size of Cheetos contains 11g of fat and 250mg of sodium (each serving size is 21 pieces). If you’ve tried these snacks, you’ll know how hard it is to stop at 21 Cheetos, and for kids, this is doubly so.
The carbohydrates contained in Cheetos are part of a group called complex carbs, too, which can change patterns in the brain’s dopamine production. At a young age, when a child is still growing, this can affect their overall health long-term.
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6 of the spiciest chips to buy
These spicy snacks need no introduction — after all, we've already devoted an entire article to them. Intense in their flavor and a favorite of many, they're a perfect snack food.
Takis flavors lean toward the hot side, and some of our favorites include the Hot Chili Pepper & Lime Tortilla Chips. These are a crunchy, full-flavor treat designed for easy snacking, and all flavors of Takis have some heat. The heat here can be strong — especially if you skip the lime and go for a flavor like Takis Nitro instead.
Chips and crisps aren't the only food that can bring the heat — popcorn can, too. Takis' Fuego are strong enough in the spice department that each bite has a kick to it that'll leave a hot pepper fan craving more.
Doritos, Takis, Cheetos — what's the difference? All of these brands are well-known for their chips, but Doritos make nachos that are cheesy, spicy, and crunchy with each bite. It's a perfect continuation of Dorito's long history of killer snack foods, like the non-spicy Cool Ranch Dorito.
With their mild levels of heat, these potato chips are crunchy, thick, and coated with spice.
Want a snack food with a unique shape? Go for the Turbos Flamas, with its iconic spiral design and a generous helping of surface heat.
Don't see your favorite snacks on our list? Don't forget to browse Gopuff's virtual aisles, where you can find and buy those treats online from the comfort of your couch.