Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Cheesy Ain’t Easy

May 26th, 2010 · 8 Comments

So how does Frito-Lay create the world’s favorite orange-hued snack? We reveal the secrets of Cheetos manufacturing in this month’s Wired. Our favorite factoid, as a teaser:

Every half hour, an in-house lab analyzes the chemical composition of samples pulled from the cooking line to verify that the Cheetos have the right density and nutritional content. Then, every four hours, a four-person panel convenes to inspect and taste the snacks, comparing them to perfect reference Cheetos sent from Frito-Lay headquarters.

For the record, we asked for a bag of “perfect reference Cheetos,” but were denied. We bet they taste like what the gods on Mount Olympus used to feast on.

(Photo via Gazing Girl)


Tags: ··

8 Comments so far ↓

  • scottstev

    Let’s hope the perfect reference Cheetos aren’t suffering the same fate as the Universal Kilogram . There’s only so much doubt and chaos I can take.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    I believe they keep the meter standard there in France, too. I wonder how it’s holding up.

  • Jordan

    These days most of those standards are being transformed into references to physical constants, which should be accurate forever.

  • hubcap

    Good Lord. Now I have a new dream job.

    If I counted all the Cheetos I have eaten over my life, that number would be one that I was publicly embarrassed by, but secretly proud of.

    Somewhere around a squillion.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Planter’s Cheese Balls in the metal cylinder were always my favorite. Off-the-charts saltiness, but irresistible all the same.

  • monkeyball

    You know what I want? An old box of perfect reference Joe’s O’s from Trader Joe’s. They’ve recently changed their formulation/process/supplier — they’re now inappropriately puffy and corny. I suspect they’ve upped the corn starch percentage and are now using something similar to Cheeto manufacturing.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @monkeyball: Almost certainly a supplier change, to one that uses a different extruder. While reporting this piece, I discovered that the extruder is the most important piece of machinery in the process–it’s what determines the puffiness.

    Corn meal consistency will make a big difference, too, at least to true connoisseurs. The cheese flavoring is less important to the finished product than most folks think.

  • monkeyball


    Thanks, Brendan. That’s about what I figured from your article.

    Oh, and:

    I discovered that the extruder is the most important piece of machinery in the process–it’s what determines the puffiness