(Originally written October 17, 2012)
In America’s War on School Lunches, one particular product has become the prime target: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The spicy cheese snack, first introduced in the early 90’s, apparently has such devastating consequences to kids’ health that it’s been banned in several school districts. No, not unhealthy snacks, or Cheetos in general, just the Flamin’ Hot variety. “We don’t encourage other chips, but if we see Hot Cheetos, we confiscate them — sometimes after the child has already eaten most of them. It’s mostly about the lack of nutrition,” a California principal told the Chicago Tribune. Oookay, but what makes them less nutritious, or more confiscatable, than other chips?
According to CBS News, “One ounce of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos — about 21 pieces — is about 160 calories, including 17 percent of the daily suggested serving for fat and 8 percent of serving for saturated fat. It also contain (sic) 250 mg — or 10 percent of the daily value — of sodium.” That’s not very healthy, granted, but it’s got nothing on a humongo chicken shawarma! However, it appears that the most harmful substances in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are not found on the nutritional guide.
As per the Tribune, “processed salty, fatty or sweet foods of any kind — also called ‘hyperpalatable foods’ — can trigger brain responses similar to those created by controlled substances in addicted individuals.” Or, as one high-school sophomore put it, “Personally I have been eating them for years, and I cannot stop. I just have this urge to eat them.”
Even Frito-Lay, the company that makes said spicy snack, seems to treat ‘em like a controlled substance. “Frito-Lay is committed to responsible and ethical marketing practices, which includes not marketing our products to children ages 12 and under. We also do not decide which snacks are available on school campuses and do not sell snack products directly to schools,” Ricky Ray’s former employer said in a statement. Still, rumours that the spicy seasoning contains crack dust have yet to be confirmed…