Do Cheetos Go bad?

They’re crispy, finger-licking good. Nope, we are not talking chicken; we are talking Cheetos. The crunchy snack was introduced nationally way back in 1948 and soon became the US’s king of the crunch. Over four million bags of Cheetos are made every day. That’s more than a billion a year, but do they go bad?

In this article, we will take the plunge into Cheetos and answer the most frequently asked questions so you have the information you need to make enlightening decisions.

Let’s dive in.

What are Cheetos made from?

Cheetos are made from simple ingredients, corn meal, and water. The corn meal is mixed with water into a batter and then extruded to create the shape we all associate with Cheetos, but there is more to it than that.

The extrusion process creates pressure and heat to create the signature Colette shape that is firm but not cooked after extruding. At this point, the Colette is more like a rice cake and has a pale yellow color, hardly surprising as corn meal is pale yellow!

The great news is the extruded Cheetos ride a conveyor to a fryer where they are cooked at 300℉. They now gain that familiar crunch.

Adding the cheese is a monumental task, with Frito-lay using approximately twelve million pounds of age cheese each year. Yep, it is a staggering statistic, but this is why Cheetos taste so good.

The cheese is mixed with oil and seasonings on an industrial scale and applied to the Cheetos.

This is the exquisite flavor of Cheetos that is finger-licking good. Something Cheeto lovers relish with their favorite snack.

As Chester would say, “I’m just a cool dude in a loose mood”! Did you know Chester is related to another cool cat? Yep, you got it right. Chester was created by the same person who created the pink panther. See the resemblance? It is not easy being cheesy.

Do Cheetos go bad?

Ok, the honeymoon is over. Yes, Cheetos do go bad. But it may not be what you are thinking.

The cornmeal base of the Cheetos remains fine. The cheese can’t keep up with the march of time. The powdered cheese will last for three or four days before spoiling.

The natural powder cheese tends to spoil faster than the conventional style chips. If you keep a bag of Cheetos sealed, they will remain fresh for six months or more.

Once the bag is open, you best hurry and eat the Cheetos.

Why do Cheetos get stale?

Once opened and exposed to moisture in the air, the Cheetos absorb that moisture and become stale. When Cheetos are packaged, they are a dray product. It makes sense that a dry product is going to absorb moisture. 

There is a suggestion that you may be able to bring your Cheetos back to life and restore the crunch by placing them in a microwave for two minutes or in a warm oven.

It seems like a reasonable assumption, but if you decide to try these methods of returning the crunch to Cheetos, remove them from the bag first.

What happens if you eat stale Cheetos?

They are the nation’s favorite, so why not eat them even if they are stale? The good news is that stale Cheetos are usually okay to eat. Of course, you won’t have the signature crunch, and the cheese may taste less than good, but it won’t make you sick.

The Cheetos may have a distinctive flavor of being off. This assumes that you have eaten stale Cheetos on day five after opening. Eating older Cheetos could be a health hazard, so use common sense.

How long do Cheetos last?

It’s a common question with a simple answer:

ItemShelf Life
Cheetos, sealed6 months
Cheetos, opened1 week

How do you keep Cheetos from going stale?

The best way to keep Cheetos from going stale after the packet has been opened is to either consume them straight away, as if you need an excuse or to place them in an airtight container. Place the Cheetos in the fridge in the airtight container and hope they stay fresh.

You can store them in the original bag in many ways so they are not exposed to moisture in the air. You can buy clips designed for sealing bags or use a clothespin. When you attempt to seal the Cheetos bag, expel as much air from the bag as possible without crushing your Cheetos.

Can you freeze Cheetos when they have been opened?

It’s all about saving the crunch, baby. Yes, you can place Cheetos in the freezer. Your Cheetos are going stale due to moisture in the air, so placing Cheetos in a moisture-free environment is paramount to saving the crunch.

Despite the frost build-up in your freezer compartment, it’s possibly the driest place in your home, and the frost is the moisture frozen out of the air.

Place the Cheetos in a zip lock bag with the air expelled as much as possible, then place the ziplock bag in an airtight container in the freezer. Fingers crossed, when you thaw the Cheetos, they will have retained the signature crunch.

Can stale Cheetos make you sick?

You can read online that eating stale Cheetos is just fine, but there is stale, and then there is stale. If the Cheetos are five or six days old in an unopened bag, they are stale, but eating these stale Cheetos will not harm your health. If they have been in a bag with contaminants entering the bag, it’s going to be a different story.

If the bag has been thrown in the corner of the pantry for three weeks, you may have a problem. 

If the Cheetos have passed the expiry date, check the Cheeto out. If they are free from mold, don’t smell funky, or taste weird, they are ok to eat.

Common sense has to prevail with eating foods past their expiry date, and Cheetos are no different.

Do Hot Cheetos eat the lining of your stomach?

Hot Cheetos, what a treat, but for you lesser mortals, the challenge of hot Cheetos can be too much for you.

Doctors say eating too many spicy foods can irritate the lining of your stomach, but not eat it away. Spicy foods, including Cheetos, can cause excess acid in the stomach that may rise to cause acid reflux.

You may experience abdominal pain that can rise to the chest, which can be scary and uncomfortable. Some patients will experience vomiting on occasion.

How Hot are Flamin Hot Cheetos?

On the Scoville scale, which is like the Richter scale of chili heat, the Flamin Hot Cheeto is alleged to be 50.000 Scovilles, it may sound a lot, but it’s the heat you would get from cayenne pepper.

Although 50,000 Scovilles may sound terrifyingly hot, the Carolina reaper pepper is 1.5 million Scoville’s, and some peppers reach the dizzying heights of 2.2 million Scoville, but you should still fear the reaper!

There are lots of fallacies related to Flamin hot Cheetos, so for the record, Frito-Lay will not create a product that will not sell massively to chili pepper lovers.

Why Are Hot Cheetos so addictive?

Do you know that chilies are quite aromatic, and the burning sensation is not part of the flavor profile but a painful reaction to the heat of the chili?

The medical profession says that you become addicted to burning or pain reactions caused by the Flamin Hot Cheetos. The body releases opioids called endorphins. This is what you become addicted to and keeps you returning for more mouth-tingling Cheetos.

How can you tell if the bag of Cheetos is going bad?

Cheetos have a signature crunch that is undeniably Cheeto crunch. The crunch will diminish when the  Cheetos are going bad, and the Cheeto will become hard and difficult to chew. The product will lose the salty element, and the cheesiness will also dissipate.

The texture change is noticeable. Apart from the snap, Cheeto takes a sway dust type of texture instead of the crunch.

For Cheetos lovers, the change in the product will be offensive. You can eat it, but it will be offensive and unpleasant. There is nothing quite like the crunch of fresh Cheetos.

Are Cheetos flushed with nitrogen to extend the shelf life?

They sure are. It’s common practice with chip manufacturers. When you open your Cheetos bag, the air puff is nitrogen.

Is Nitrogen safe?

Everyone would be in trouble if it weren’t safe, the air we breathe is made up of 20% oxygen and around 80% nitrogen with a few other inert gasses, so nitrogen is safe.

Final thoughts

Cheetos go bad if they are not eaten by the expiry date or if open bags are not consumed within 3-4 days.

Storing opened Cheetos can allow you to extend the crunch days slightly, but by and large, when the Cheetos are open, they need to be consumed.

Unopened Cheetos last an impressive six weeks before they reach their expiry date.

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