There is a liquor store named after the street it’s on, the same street on which I reside. This is an obscure way of saying I go to said store, manned by unhappy presumable brothers and their father from a war-torn area of the world, as an emotional supplement during my lonelier nights, not excluding the time, most recently, I procured a bag of Cheetos Puffs — mainly to binge eat, but also with the intention of perhaps writing about, of which this very article is the manifestation. Short of being successfully meta, let me just say excuse me. We shall discover herein analytical aspects of our subject, punctuated by commentary of a more personal sort, starting right here with a description of the emotional status necessary to get Cheetos Puffs. One does not wish to live any longer, but still would like their final moments filled with joy.
The Nutrition Facts provided by FritoLay lists a serving size of 1 oz (28g), though there are 3.75 oz (106.3 g) in a bag, always consumed in its entirety, for the oiled waft of opening a bag brings out the animal in us; thus, we must multiply the nutritional variables by a factor of 4 — which means that one bag yields (more accurately, incurs) 60% total fat and sodium for that day, not to mention is 640 calories. This is more than a modest meal, without any dietary fiber, vitamins, or protein. If this sounds like a liberal food ethics critique, it is not. A legal corporation has simply provided a product and set it free within a free-market. If there is a problem, it is lack of free will. Mine.
The Cheetos franchise mascot is one anthropomorphic “Chester Cheetah,” whose ’80s coolness is conveyed by dark shades, mellow yet edgy semi-urban vernacular, and high-top sneakers. There is a mild implication that Chester could be African-American; that is, if animals could have such racial delineation. That Cheetos and cheetah sound similarly, are only two letters apart, and are both tinted orange, will explain the latter as branding icon for the former. Ironically, the more one eats Cheetos, the slower they will become, which may be read as a cruel joke by FritoLay for appointing the fastest animal on the planet as its icon. Until recent (c. 2001) branding changes, the Cheetos logo was spelt with an interpunct, a dot which operates as a hyphen (Chee·tos), somewhat arbitrary because neither “chee,” “tos,” or “cheetos” are actually words for which such grammatical specialty would be necessary. This of course is the last thing on my mind as I’m enjoying the soft yet crunchy collapse of each puff emitted by the internal drum of my mouth straight to my ear drums. Mastication sounds like the other word, so let’s just say I “get off.”
One smile-shaped puff, since its “new bigger size,” is now approximately 3.0 – 3.2″ long, whose girth to length ratio, and overall demeanor, is similar to a flaccid penis. That the phallus is invoked says less about this contributor’s preoccupations than the subconscious consumerism(s) both aimed and employed at/by young males at the peak of their sexual development. We might also add here that Chester’s nose, like Camel cigarettes Camel Joe, boldly protrudes into the viewer’s plane as an enormous unwavering dick. Such staunch phalluses are Capitalism’s way of saying bend over. Unlike the potato chip, tortilla chip, french fry, tater tot, pretzel, etc., the Cheetos puff resonates on a more primitive level, coaxing the salivary glands in ways left dormant since nursing. Lest you think this writer is stretching, may he point out the thick orange paste which forms over the fingers that must be vigorously sucked clean-ish during consumption.
Along with the aforementioned lonely night fix, I may also fall victim at around 3 p.m., when struggling to bear the last 2 hours of work. Staring blankly at my Excel spread sheet, or Twitter feed, it will become apparent that the holes in my life must be patched with wet orange spackle swallowed into my viscera. I will take the elevator down to the cafeteria and buy a bag for 99¢, open it immediately, and consume the entire bag en route to my desk, nursing on my own fingers in a self-administered return to the womb. Cheetos Puffs, for all its sharp and ostensibly friendly marketing, its light crunch and bountiful cheesy flavor, its tiny fellatios, is in essence the mark of someone simply losing at life. True, there is heroin or meth, but there’s a glamour to that. Cheetos Puffs is without grim romanticism, kitsch or irony; it is basically an unabashed disgusting yet glorious thing. Its airy inflation is its own hollowness. Things quickly deflate into an emptiness which points less to the chewer’s mouth than his soul. Here the consumer — his chin flecked by unnatural neon dashes of orange mystery, fingers caked in gruesome saliva reduced paste — stands before the rest of his peers alone, a weak perhaps even morally corrupt human being. Death is not black, but orange. And I love them.