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Buffalo Cheetos Are An Odd Ode To Wings

These new Crunchy Buffalo Cheetos are here just in time for Super Bowl LVIII.

The Super Bowl is just around the corner, which means our minds are focused on handheld party foods like pizza, dips, and of course, Buffalo wings. That's why Cheetos has pulled the savvy move of debuting the newest flavor to its permanent lineup, Cheetos Crunchy Buffalo, just a few weeks before game day.

Finger snacks like chips are always on hand during the Big Game, so I was curious to see how the fusion of Buffalo wing zing into Cheetos' squiggly form factor would work out. Would this mashup be the best of both worlds? Could Buffalo sauce–flavored Cheetos replace Buffalo wings at your Super Bowl Party? (It would certainly prevent sauce stains on the couch.) Most importantly, is this new snack any good?

How do Cheetos Crunchy Buffalo taste?

From a visual standpoint, Cheetos Crunchy Buffalo look mostly like their classic neon orange counterparts, only with a tiny tinge of red. You wouldn't mistake them for bright red Flamin' Hots based off their appearance.

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The scent is... difficult to describe. They almost smell musty at first, but then the Buffalo sauce aroma creeps in from the fringes, which gives way to that vague fried cornmeal smell you get from regular Cheetos.

Then there's the matter of their flavor, which is similarly curious. They have a decent hit of acid upfront, which gives way to spice, then a mild Buffalo flavor that's mostly covered up by the crunchy Cheetos cornmeal base flavor. I don't think I would have identified them as tasting like Buffalo sauce, if not for all the branding.

The aftertaste is slightly more buttery than a typical crunchy Cheeto, which is fitting, considering actual Buffalo wings are usually tossed in a combination of sauce and butter. Cheese powder is listed in the ingredients, but I actually couldn't quite pick that out as a flavor note.

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I had a few coworkers try the Cheetos, all of whom displayed puzzled looks. They detected Buffalo flavor, but not much. One said the Cheeto cornmeal was the dominant flavor note, and another coworker said they tasted like butter at the end. Neither seemed particularly enthused.

Should you buy Cheetos Crunchy Buffalo?

It's been a very long time since I've been this torn over a product recommendation. These Buffalo-flavored Cheetos occupy the middle ground between the regular cheese flavor and the Flamin' Hot variety, but somehow don't taste like either. They also don't taste like Buffalo sauce, the intended effect.

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If this had been a partnership with, say, Frank's RedHot—a Buffalo product that boasts a distinctly recognizable flavor—this bag of Cheetos likely would have fared much better. As it is, though, this snack won't scratch that Buffalo itch.

If you want a Buffalo-flavored snack to munch on, I highly recommend these Snyder's of Hanover Hot Buffalo Wing-flavored Pretzel Pieces instead. They actually hit the bullseye, to the point where you'll find yourself craving blue cheese dressing with them too.

So I'm going to have to say, keep the wings on the table during the Super Bowl this year. These Cheetos just aren't "Buffalo" enough, and it's really a missed opportunity. I'll stick to our tried-and-true sleeper favorite Cheetos flavor instead.

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