When does irony stop mattering?
Advertisers understand that irony has been a powerful marketing force for years now. Just look at the state of many products: marketers no longer try to assure us that their products are superior, or quality, or even good. They openly and unabashedly embrace the idea that their goods are bad, strange, and comedic. “Honesty” is valued above anything else – so what if the product is garbage? You know you want it, you slob!
And we – I specifically mean food reviewers, including us here at Eggware.XYZ – fall for it every time. There’s almost nothing we can do to keep ourselves from eating these awful foods, talking about how bad they are, how absolutely awful these things are, what were they thinking? The companies that produce this garbage love it when we do this. There’s no way to actually and accurately communicate something is bad anymore. “No such thing as bad publicity” has been actively weaponized. The more we mock them, the more we insult them, the more we bemoan their terrible practices, the stronger they get.
So it’s with a heavy heart that we have decided to review the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac ‘N Cheese today. We know just by acknowledging this product’s existence, we’re letting Frito-Lay score a win over us. We don’t care anymore. To paraphrase Allen Ginsberg, you can’t win, you can’t break even, you can’t even leave the game. The world has to know how awful this stuff is.
So. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos macaroni and cheese. So.
There are three flavors in this line: there’s plain’ old Classic Cheeto, the Flamin’ Hot variety we’re having today, and a Cheesy Jalapeño variety that we’ve heard is good but dare not try ourselves. Naturally, the Flamin’ Hot is the most memeworthy, so we had to try it.
So first things first, these things are fucking small. It’s a 5.6 ounce box, where a normal box of Kraft-style macaroni and cheese is 7.25 ounces. Sure, these probably cost less than a buck each, but you’re still paying over 15 cents an ounce where generic brand blue box mac (which is every bit as good as Kraft, don’t fall for their lies) costs less than a nickel per ounce. Quite frankly this is highway robbery. They know we’re going to pay through the nose for their stupid premium macaroni and cheese and looks and tastes like shit just because it’s got Cheetos in it. The concept of Cheetos Macaroni and Cheese makes me so angry.
Well, what do you get? You get pretty much the same thing as any other box of macaroni and cheese, a box full of noodles and a little sachet of cheese powder. The noodles are spirals, but not the tight little spirals of most other spiral mac & cheese. These are much bigger, and softer. They have a very, very bad tendency to fall apart while they’re cooking, leaving weird scraps of pasta matter stuck to the edges of your pot. This is never an issue with other spiral macaroni, and represents not just a loss of overall food but a significant mess to clean up. It’s sloppy, and just plain bad food design.
And hey, what about that cheese powder? It’s red. So, so red. Candy cane red. Fire truck red. Stop sign red. The kind of red that poisonous animals use to ward off predators. Red 40 Lake. The serious stuff. Once you add the cheese powder, it ceases to look like food. Look at how incredibly, mind-bogglingly fake this stuff looks. I have seen wheels of wax-dipped cheese that were not this vibrantly red. I guess staining everything bright red is a part of the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos experience, right?
So, normally when we make boxed macaroni and cheese we like to add plenty of spices to make it more interesting. Lots of garlic powder, mustard powder, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce…. Nothing complicated, just some extra flavor to bolster up plain old macaroni. We didn’t do that this time. We wanted the pure, uncut Flamin’ Hot Macaroni and Cheese experience. The instructions recommend using margarine, but we refuse to compromise on using anything but butter. So, prep is the same as any other boxed mac: boil, add butter, add powder, add milk, you’re done.
It tastes like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. I don’t know what else to say. It tastes just like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It’s a bit more cheese-forward than Flamin’ Hots, and a little funkier than regular macaroni and cheese – it’s got blue cheese as an ingredient, but it’s got less blue cheese than food coloring. This meal is mostly food coloring. We ate this with a side of fried spam, because we like to put spam in our macaroni and cheese. That’s our special macaroni and cheese hack, just for you.
Speaking of hacks, the back of the box advocates a little #CheetosMacHack of its own! Why not top this with even MORE Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Just go out and buy as many Frito-Lay products as you can! Why not get the jalapeño version too, and top that with Jalapeño Cheetos? Try as many variations as you can! GIVE FRITO-LAY YOUR MONEY
Okay, seriously, it’s not even that bad. It tastes like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but it’s fine. It’s just fine. It’s okay to eat like, once just to try it, and then never eat it again. If you really, really tried, you could make something way better using ordinary boxed mac – or, god forbid, prepare your own version of it! It would probably taste pretty good if you did crumble Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on top of it and then baked it, too.
Look, we don’t know. At this point we regret writing this article, but what does it even matter? Go buy Flamin’ Hot Macaroni and Cheese or don’t. There’s no getting out of this game. Not buying Flamin’ Hot Macaroni and Cheese means you’re buying Kraft macaroni and cheese. Buying generic means you’re buying Walmart’s brand. Making your own macaroni and cheese at home means you’re giving money to whatever dairy conglomerate actually made that cheese. There is no escape. I guess it really took us to the point of eating Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Macaroni and Cheese to realize just how impossible ethical consumption under capitalism is.