The pros: Trader Joe’s Spicy Cheese Crunchies are meant to be a healthier alternative to the similar to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. These are also listed as gluten-free.
The cons: This is not quite an exact copy to the original.
Every year we have a poetry slam at our school featuring original student created poetry. Some of the topics were quite intense with some mature beyond their years topics. One year, one student presented a poem about domestic violence. That was immediately followed by a poem of a completely polar opposite form of intense emotional expression: her undying love of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Yup. It was that kind of emotional rollercoaster.
It was detailed. It was hilarious. It even brought up the common side effect of eating too many of these. Yup, she brought up the moment when she realized those snacks had passed completely through her digestive tract.
It brought both laughter and tears to my eyes.
All joking aside, but Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are pretty darn good in my opinion. In fact, among my students they usually have those Cheetos or Takis with them at any given moment.
But then Trader Joe’s rolled these out. I grabbed a bag the first time I saw them.
I tried them. And then I was perplexed. And I left this review sit for a while.
This review has been sitting in a draft folder since May. It’s July. I tried them and I really wanted to like them. That bag of Spicy Cheese Crunchies has been sitting on my counter since May untouched beyond a few nibbles since then.
A bag or two of the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have been on my counter and subsequently emptied in that same time period. Mostly by my husband. Some by me just for comparison’s sake.
But there is something so addicting about the original that I can’t quite put my finger on.
So let’s go over where they are similar. Both are hot, reddish hued (to a different degree), and have some pretty good kick to them.
But for something that looks visually similar there are some key differences. These are baked leading to a different texture. They were more cheese puff than Cheeto. FHC are far crispier. These are far more mellow in heat where the FHC the heat sneaks up on you.
Then there is the flavor, they are spicy and cheesy but not the same seasoning blend. I’m not sure which flavor it is, but there was just a taste in these that I just did not love.
Then there is the color which is all natural. Which probably won’t have the aforementioned side effect of letting you know when they have passed through your system.
Now, part of me understands people’s desire to be healthier. But part of me also knows that when I reach for a bag of chips, it’s not to give myself some aspect of nutritional value.
I know when I eat a starburst, it’s because it tastes good. I’m not trying to derive any nutritional value from it. But if you are reaching for this bag you are trying to minimize the damage, you aren’t saving yourself a ton of calories. In fact, you’ll only save 40 calories per serving and 5g of fat.
Overall, do I think it is worth a try once? Absolutely. Will I buy another bag? Nope. If I’m going to consume something this nutritionally devoid, then I’m going for the extra 40 calories.
For $1.99 it’s inexpensive and you may find you love them. I know I might be in the minority by saying that I don’t love this product, but I don’t think its bad either. It’s just not for everyone or an equal substitute. It’s a similar product that will absolutely have its fan base. I just can’t count myself as one of them.
Here is the visual run down of what you get if you buy this product:
The bag of Trader Joe’s Spicy Cheese Crunchies:
The nutritional information:
How Trader Joe’s describes these:
Out of the package you get:
Would I buy this again? While I know I’m in the minority by saying I wasn’t completely crazy about these. So, no I won’t be buying Trader Joe’s Spicy Cheese Crunchies again.
Want to see more items I’ve reviewed from Trader Joe’s? Click on Thoughts & Reviews of Trader Joe’s for a searchable list.
Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!1