If we're talking about schools and lunches, you can bet that the story is about another wave of "Nanny State-ism."
The latest move in the effort to take complete control over the lives of students swirls around a very specific member of the snack food world, the very popular, Flamin' Hot Cheetos. If the schools have their way, "Hot Cheetos" will be treated like illegal drugs on school property.
Image: Frito Lay Corporation
This innocent-looking snack food has been on the market for two decades and appears to be quite popular. It even has a Facebook page with almost 50,000 fans.
Frito-Lay, the company that makes the targeted treat is not releasing any sales data, but a report in the Chicago Tribune claimed that one school (one single school) was selling over 150,000 bags of just this snack each year.
As you probably noticed in the top photo, Flamin' Hot Cheetos are a snack food that proudly declares that it contains ZERO grams of the much-maligned trans fats, it is also gluten-free, and made with real cheese. With all of those positive facts about the snack, what could possibly be causing schools in several states (California, New Mexico, and Illinois) to consider banning the sale of "Hot Cheetos" and even confiscating them from students who bring the product to school with them?
Wait a minute... You don't believe that schools are confiscating the cheesy snacks like they would any other form of contraband? The Chicago Tribune spoke with Principal Rita Esposito from Pasadena, CA's Jackson Elementary School. Principal Esposito was quite specific in her statement:
"We don't allow candy, and we don't allow Hot Cheetos. 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."
Speaking of nutrition, or lack thereof, let's take a look at the nutritional information found on the back of the Cheetos bag. Perhaps we will find justification for this groundswell against the popular snack:
Image: Frito-Lay Corporation
The single serving bag delivers 17% of the daily fat and 10% of the suggested sodium (salt) intake. Some nutrition experts say that's not exactly worthy of a ban or confiscation. The outrage in this case may be related to serving sizes. The biggest selling package of 'Flamin' Hot Cheetos' is 50% larger than the single serving. ABC News reported the specifics:
School officials say the concern is their nutritional value, or lack thereof. Each bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos contains 26 grams of fat and a quarter of the amount of salt that’s recommended for the entire day.
Checking the nutritional data on the back of other snack products like potato chips, corn chips like Fritos, and nacho-style chips, TheBlaze discovered similar levels of sodium and fat in many popular brands. In other words, they're not much different and it's interesting that they're gaining extra ire.
So could something else be pushing schools to consider banning the 'Flamin' Hot Cheetos?' Fox News talked with a school superintendent in New Mexico who offered some different insight:
“They have that red dye in them and the kids get that all over their hands and track it all over everything and the custodians have to clean it up. They’re not big fans of that.”
Is the outrage related to the lack of nutrition or the messy, red handprints left by the Cheeto-chomping children? It appears to be the nutrition issue that the New Mexico schools are most concerned with. Students were sent home with a note detailing the nutritional information found on the back of each package. The note had to be signed by a parent and returned to schools.
Before you make your decision about what is at the core of this issue, you should also consider this report from a pediatrician who talked about the growing number of emergency room visits related to consumption of "Flamin' Hot Cheetos."
There are only a few school districts banning "Flamin' Hot Cheetos" in the country, but none of the schools have said a thing about the similar snacks that have copied Cheetos. If a nation-wide ban is successful, what will become of treats like:
- Hot Thang Crunchy Nuggets
- Hot 'N Spicy Crunchy Nuggets
- Sizzlin' Hot Crunchy Kurls
- Sizzlin' Cheese Flavored Twists
TheBlaze has reached out to Frito-Lay for comments on schools that have banned or proposed bans on Flamin' Hot Cheetos. We have yet to get a response, but Fox News posted this statement from the company:
“Frito-Lay is committed to responsible and ethical marketing practices, which includes not marketing our products to children ages 12 and under. We also do not decide which snacks are available on school campuses and do not sell snack products directly to schools.”