When you think of Cheetos, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the cheesy, crunchy snack that leaves your fingers orange. However, what many people don’t realize is that the origin of Cheetos is tied to the military.
The origin of Cheetos
Cheetos were invented by an unexpected source—military food scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the early 1940s, during World War II, scientists were tasked with finding a way to utilize surplus cornmeal. These products also needed to be shelf-stable, lightweight, and provide nutrition to soldiers on the frontlines.
The driving force behind the creation of Cheetos was food scientist Colonel Bob, a.k.a. Colonel Edward Blewett. His objective was to find a cheese that could be transformed into a powder, providing a burst of flavor when added to various food products.
In the early 1940s, Colonel Bob and his team succeeded in developing a breakthrough process that transformed cheese into a powdered form. This cheese powder became the key ingredient for what would eventually become Cheetos. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the cheese powder was combined with cornmeal and shaped into the signature Cheetos form we know today.
From rations to snacks
In 1961, Fritos, the well-known corn chip brand, acquired the rights to Cheetos. Frito-Lay, the company behind Fritos, recognized the immense potential of Cheetos as a snack food. They further refined the recipe, improved the manufacturing process, and launched Cheetos into the snack food spotlight.
Cheetos quickly became a sensation. Cheetos’ popularity soared with the introduction of different flavors. For example, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos became a cultural phenomenon in their own right.
The military’s pursuit of portable, and long-lasting food options for soldiers led to the creation of Cheetos. So next time you enjoy a bag of Cheetos, take a moment to appreciate the military origins behind the snack.