Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs Review: This New Snack Won't Set The World On Fire

There's a fair amount of truth contained in the expression "no pain, no gain." Yet the idea that one must endure and overcome challenging circumstances in pursuit of a goal doesn't automatically extend into every corner of life. Neither does it imply one must endure literal pain in order to achieve a task. So while something as simple as snacking doesn't inherently involve the risk of agony, certain foods — like Cheetos' new Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs (released May 2023) — are apt to test one's physical and mental fortitude.

Clearly, snack food that both incorporates and highlights ghost peppers – which are about 107 times hotter than jalapeño peppers – won't appeal to anyone who abhors the sweat-inducing discomfort derived from eating extremely spicy foods. Of course, if you're the type who relishes punishing heat on your palate, this snack may have you running toward your nearest grocery store.

We weren't entirely sure what to expect from this exorbitantly spicy new Cheetos flavor. But we were immensely intrigued, so we decided to sample the newest addition to Cheetos' Flamin' Hot line. If you're curious about this unique new snack (and wondering whether you should purchase a bag for yourself), keep reading as we review Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs.

What's in Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs?

It's no secret that misrepresentations (both deliberate and accidental) are widespread in the modern world, particularly when it comes to corporate advertisements. In that sense, we had our doubts regarding the inclusion of real ghost peppers in Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs. But the spicy snack does, indeed, list ghost chili peppers among its ingredients.

The fact that ghost peppers are the fourth ingredient on the list — only appearing after enriched cornmeal, vegetable oil, and maltodextrin — may seem untoward at first glance. Given the extreme heat foisted on the tongue by ghost peppers, though, it stands to reason that less is more in this instance.

We suggest you simply ignore the composition of Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs if you're eager to try a bag. The litany of incomprehensible ingredients alongside ghost peppers isn't surprising, per se — it's a Cheetos product, after all — but it is concerning. And between blue 2 lake, yellow 5, and the wildly confusing "natural flavors (contains animal ingredients)" item, well ... let's just say the less time spent focused on what's actually in a Smoky Ghost Pepper Puff, the better you'll probably feel about eating one.

How much do Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs cost?

There may be instances when a limited-time product leverages its inherently short-lived status to be sold at a premium price to consumers. Thankfully, anyone eager to sample Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs is unlikely to encounter an artificially inflated price point when purchasing the short-lived flavor.

It certainly helps that Cheetos provided a suggested cost for the new Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs, which are available in two different sizes (and, thus, two different prices) as of May 22, 2023. In most cases, it appears one can expect to pay $2.49 for a smaller, 2.3-ounce bag, while the larger, 7-ounce version is likely to run a person $5.69 per bag.

Obviously, there's no guarantee you'll pay these exact prices if you decide to purchase a bag of the new Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs (depending on where and how you choose to purchase one). Still, there's little reason to expect a drastic difference in cost based on the brand's own suggestions — no matter the vendor.

How long are Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs available and where?

Sometimes, writing about food can feel like drawing blood from a stone. Other times, the process can be stupefyingly simple — like informing you, dear readers, about where and when you can purchase a bag of Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs.

The newest flavor under the Flamin' Hot banner was first released at Walmart locations around the U.S. on May 22, 2023 and is scheduled to remain on shelves until August 14, or while supplies last. If you can't visit a Walmart (do those people exist in the U.S.?), you can potentially order a bag online.

Of course, timing is likely to be crucial for anyone who wants to purchase a bag. Since it's quite easy to imagine the Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs won't last through the planned mid-August release window, you shouldn't wait too long to snag your snack if you're interested.

What is the nutrition info for Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs?

If we told you that Cheetos' new Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs is a terribly unhealthy and unnatural food product, we wouldn't expect your jaws to fall to the floor. After all, no one ingests a bag of Cheetos (no matter the variety) because the snack food is a beacon of nutrition. But it's always helpful to know what you're putting into your body, particularly when the food is best enjoyed in moderation.

Actually, in all fairness, the new Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs aren't the least healthy snack option at one's disposal. In fact, with no cholesterol, less than 1 gram of sugar per serving, and a surprisingly low 140 milligrams of sodium per serving, it's not as detrimental as we'd expected. Still, any positive health benefits are clearly negated by the uber-processed makeup of this Cheetos flavor — but would anyone have expected anything different?

How does it compare to other Cheetos products?

Since the new Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs appear to be categorized as part of Cheetos' famed Flamin' Hot variety, that likely represents the best point of comparison for the new version. But beyond a similar name (and Scoville scale-busting abilities), there's little connective tissue between the newest Cheetos flavor and its standard Flamin' Hot version.

For starters, regular Flamin' Hot Cheetos are crunchy, whereas the new Smoky Ghost Pepper Puff is, well, a puffed snack that's more akin to a classic Cheetos cheese puff. Of course, the unique design of the Smoky Ghost Pepper Puff — it's shaped like a chili pepper — provides a secondary distinction between it and the classic cheese-flavored varieties.

Actually, the complete absence of cheesiness found in the new Smoky Ghost Pepper Puff means it doesn't taste like any other Cheetos flavor we've encountered. It's spicier (and burns more) than the regular Flamin' Hot version, and the smokiness promised by the name overwhelms any cheesiness that may exist. Simply put, it's tough to compare the new Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puff to its brand siblings because it doesn't resemble any other Cheetos variety.

Verdict: This flavor won't set the world ablaze

Our first reaction upon tasting the new Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs was to ask why — as in why did Frito Lay decide to concoct this bizarrely-flavored, oddly-shaped, and oddly-colored snack? There are so many things wrong with this new Flamin' Hot variety that we're stunned it didn't burst into flames during the development phase.

The snack's bright, radioactive red appearance is utterly nauseating, loudly broadcasting its hyper-processed state to consumers. The decision to shape the new snack like a chili pepper does it no favors, either, aesthetically or texturally. In fact, the new Flamin' Hot variety quickly dissolved into a clumpy ball when chewing it, which reminded us more of Pirate's Booty than a classic Cheetos cheese puff (in the worst way possible). Now, to its credit, Cheetos Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs do bring the heat as promised. But the burning skewed far more towards painful than pleasant, likely due to the snack's intense smokiness (and utter lack of cheesy flavor).

There's certainly room for gimmickry in the world, but novelty for the sake of novelty is difficult to justify. In the case of Cheetos' new Flamin' Hot Smoky Ghost Pepper Puffs, the snack's undeniable "look at me!" existence is nothing more than an attempt to set the brand's reputation on fire. It's one we expect to burn out with a whimper after its limited run.