Chester's Are Better Than Cheetos (And You Can't Convince Me Otherwise)

There is a ping-pong table on a bar patio in the city I used to live in. My friends and I would go there to play whenever the weather allowed for it, sometimes laying out our store-bought snacks among the nachos and $1 hard-shell tacos from the kitchen. One fateful evening, as I was watching a match from the unratified buffet area, I absently reached my hand into a bag of vaguely rectangular-shaped snack sticks. 

I took a bite and turned my attention away from the game to stare at the fiery orange thing in my hand. Time may have stopped; the ping pong ball may have froze, suspended in the air between the paddles. I was utterly baffled by this snack.

My sense of taste and smell insisted that it was a Flamin' Hot Cheeto, but my eyes weren't so sure. I studied the bag. The "Flamin' Hot" moniker was there; so was the orange-and-yellow color scheme, the licks of flame, and the sunglasses-wearing cheetah that serves as the Cheeto mascot — and whose name, to make things more confusing, is Chester. 

What I held in my hand was an elusive Chester's fry, a product I had never previously heard of or seen. It would soon replace my affinity for its better-known counterpart, much to the chagrin of everyone I know. 

I love Chester's and I don't care who knows it

If you already feel compelled to send me an angry email in defense of Cheetos, rest assured that if Chester's were dissolved as a brand, I would happily return to my first love, the original Flamin' Hot Cheeto. (Limón, ideally.) But as long as both Frito-Lay snacks are in the ring, I will continue to root for Chester's on account of one thing, and one thing only: It has a superior texture. 

When reaching for a standard Cheeto (whose craggy, shrunken shape takes form when cornmeal reaches its boiling point), your instincts will tell you to chew with your molars. This indicates that the snack is crunchy as opposed to crispy. And if you ever make the mistake of purchasing a bag of Cheetos past its best-by date, you will inevitably come across one or two that have crystalized to the point of gum-scoring potential. (Ask me how I know.)

I prefer the crispiness of Chester's. The shape might be less fun to look at, but what it lacks in appearance it makes up for in volume; it's longer, wider, and full of air pockets that yield a light and airy texture that might even rival that of the Cheeto Puff. 

More bang for your buck

Speaking of volume, a bag of Chester's might be a better value than a bag of Cheetos. If you do your snack shopping online, a 3.5-ounce bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos will set you back $2.49, while a 5.25-ounce bag of Chester's will cost you only 50 cents more. A bag of Cheetos and Chester's might contain roughly the same amount of hot sticks, but Chester's gives the illusion of a full bag thanks to its puffed-up denizens. Call me delusional, but opening a bag of Cheetos that, in reality, contains mostly empty space makes me feel like I paid full price for half the fun. 

After conducting official research made possible by the bodega across the street from my apartment, I'm obliged to confess that Flamin' Hot Cheetos are significantly spicier than Chester's. As someone who loves to feel the burn, I admit that there's nothing quite like the singular tingle of a Cheeto bursting with Cheetle dust. Fortunately for me, trading Cheetos' spiciness for the cloud-like bite of a Chester's fry is a sacrifice I'm willing to make.