It wasn't always like this. I used to like Cheetos—adore them, really—as a kid. But kid Patricia also liked Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and Donkey Kong 64, so clearly I was a stupid kid.
I'd say I know better now, but that's not quite accurate. It's difficult to escape Cheetos: they're considered the epitome of the gamer stereotype (along with Doritos), and in the age of convenience—when many of us eat at our computers, or are simply too busy to eat proper meals—the ubiquity of crisps is undeniable.
They're cheap. They come in giant packs with all sorts of other chips. They're easy to eat. You probably won't notice when you eat over your serving size, especially not if they come in those smaller bags. The idea behind that is that you'll feel less guilty eating them—they're not as bad as the big bags, right?—except I do feel guilt after every bag of Cheetos I eat.
The first few Cheetos are always fine. It's always about five to ten Cheetos in that the dull taste of not-quite-cheese starts to linger too long, starts making me wish I could wash the flavor out of my mouth. And I keep eating, damn me. Of course I do.
The New York Times, speaking to a food scientist about Cheetos:
He zeroed right in on the Cheetos. “This,” Witherly said, “is one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure.” He ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. “It’s called vanishing caloric density,” Witherly said. “If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it . . . you can just keep eating it forever.”
So yes, I keep eating: they're designed that way. And then the real guilt kicks in—the same one that greets me after I eat fast food, the same one that oscillates between a gross aftertaste and a not-entirely-happy stomach.
It's Cheetos-specific, but even if it wasn't—if you're sitting there asking yourself, why Cheetos? Why complain about Cheetos of all god-forsaken-things? To which I say—why not? Look at the damn things. It's not enough that they're greasy and unhealthy—like most chips—but they have to be messy and bright orange, of all colors. That's why I'm writing this about Cheetos and not Doritos. These turd-shaped orange logs mark you with their bright orange crumbs, which admittedly aren't as bad as the red crumbs on the "hot" variety of Cheetos (and neither of which is worse than the utter annoyance of puffy Cheetos, which stick to the top of your teeth!)
As if that wasn't enough, Cheetos have become a shorthand for nerd-dom along with Mountain Dew—making eating the chips uncomfortable on principle. I don't resent Cheetos for that though—or not entirely—because that would be silly. It's that, if I'm going to have something be emblematic about my interests, couldn't it be something that doesn't reinforce the idea of gamers lacking hygiene? Or even better: can't it be a snack food that meshes well with the hobby?
You don't want to eat Cheetos while gaming. I mean, I'm sure some people do—I suspect many of us try eating things we shouldn't while at the computer or while playing a game—but on the whole, gaming while eating Cheetos isn't recommendable. Not unless you're okay with your keyboards and controllers becoming greasy and disgusting. Let's not forget the inevitability of your gear becoming coated with orange dust!
To be fair, finding an appropriate gaming snack is not easy. There are entire companies dedicated to it. Gamer Grub, the unfortunately-named
"performance snack" trail mix, comes to mind—and they haven't figured out how to best serve the "needs" of the gaming community, much less figured out how to take away the awful connotations that come with horribly unhealthy junk food like Mountain Dew, Doritos and Cheetos.
Until someone figures it out, we've got Cheetos. And fuck Cheetos, man.