While it’s true that Flamin’ Hots, also known as Hot Cheetos, deliver high levels of salt, fat and artificial colors with little nutrition or fiber in return, the same can be said for similar snacks.
Yet there is something about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos that inflames critics in a way that other snacks — including regular Cheetos — never did. Some schools and districts, including the Noble Street Charter School Network and the entire Rockford school district, have banned Flamin’ Hots by name, citing nutritional concerns.
“We don’t allow candy, and we don’t allow Hot Cheetos,” said Rita Exposito, principal of Jackson Elementary School in Pasadena, Calif. “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.”
Why? Because they’re unhealthy and, perhaps, addictive. After discussing the popularity of Hot Cheetos and Doritos, the article mentions research where rats that ate junk food (not these chips specifically) were “put back on a regular diet … [but] would walk through electrified mazes, shocking their little feet in search of the junk food again.”
It also features a startling quote from radiologist Gene-Jack Wang: “You can almost equate the craving [for processed food] to that of cocaine.”