Cheetos (formerly styled as Chee-tos until 1998) is a brand of cheese-flavored puffed cornmeal snacks made by Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. Fritos creator Charles Elmer Doolin invented Cheetos in 1948.
Cheetos were invented when an animal feed manufacturer in Wisconsin changed up their machine cleaning technique. They placed moist corn on a grinder and found the grain puffed up when it came out. The company owner then took the end product, seasoned it, and invented the first cheese curl.
Cheetos are manufactured by blending corn and water. The germ of the corn is removed to prevent spoiling; the germless corn is then ground into cornmeal. Because the cornmeal lacks the nutrients provided by the germs, it is enriched by adding nutrients in order to increase its nutritional value. The mixture is heated under pressure, and then extruded through a die. The texture of the snack is formed as a result of contact with hot air, causing steam in the mixture to expand and creating its characteristic texture. After oven drying or frying, the product is then tumbled with the desired flavor components.
The first Cheetos product was Crunchy Cheetos in 1948. Crunchy Cheetos remained the brand’s sole product for 23 years until the introduction of Cheetos Puffs in 1971. The baked varieties, otherwise known as Baked Cheetos, became available beginning in 2004.
Cheetos are available in some unusual flavors for other countries. In China Cheetos flavors are ranch dressing, North Sea crab, smoked octopus and caramel, while in Japan strawberry Cheetos are a variation of the original crunchy Cheetos dipped in a flavored icing. In Pakistan Cheetos are available in six different flavors: Vegetable, Cream N’ Herb, spicy twist, and Ketchup.