The Untold Truth Of Chester Cheetah

Chester Cheetah first entered the pop culture firmament in 1986 in a series of animated TV commercials for Cheetos. As The New York Times reported, Chester was the creation of the DDB Needham Worldwide advertising agency, hired by Frito-Lay — which produces the salty snacks — to come up with a fresh, new brand mascot. Chester was an instant hit and has since become tightly associated with Cheetos. Over the years, Chester has been responsible for introducing several Madison Avenue catchphrases into the lexicon, including "It ain't easy bein' cheesy" and "Dangerously cheesy!" 

As cartoon mascots for food products go, Chester Cheetah is definitely in the upper echelon and has stood the test of time thanks to continual reinvention. Originally depicted in traditional animation, Chester evolved over the years to his current status as a CGI-rendered cool cat. Who knows where he'll go from there?

Yet, despite being a fixture on television for decades, how much do consumers of Cheetos really know about the snack's mischievous mascot? Keep on reading to discover all there is to know about the untold truth of Chester Cheetah.

Chester Cheetah was not the original Cheetos mascot

While Chester Cheetah has been hawking Cheetos since the 1980s, the frisky feline isn't the first mascot the snack food has utilized to move product off the shelves. Prior to Chester, there was the Chee-tos Mouse (Chee-tos originally boasted a hyphen), who used the tagline, "Cheese that goes crunch." 

Not only was the Chee-tos Mouse a different species from the cheetah who would take his place, but he also had a far different attitude than Chester and his mischievous antics. Often depicted sporting a three-piece suit, the mouse spoke in an affected, highfalutin manner. He was depicted in various commercial spots in such vocations as a politician and an inexplicably snooty window washer

In his book Ninety Degrees at 49, former advertising copywriter Howard Kaplan recalled directing several animated commercials featuring the Chee-tos Mouse. Among the rodent's various iterations in these ad spots was "Cheesy Rider" (spoofing the 1969 movie, Easy Rider), Roman emperor "Julius Cheeser," and a WWI fighter pilot who declared, "I fly through the air with the greatest of cheese." One commercial even featured the Chee-tos Mouse as an astronaut landing on the moon, only to be disappointed once he discovered it wasn't actually made of cheese. 

Chester Cheetah evolved in some 'delightfully creepy' directions

When Chester Cheetah was first introduced as the new mascot for Cheetos, the character was depicted as a trickster troublemaker in the spirit of Bugs Bunny or Woody Woodpecker. Yet, as a 2008 piece in Slate observed, a commercial released that year demonstrated the character's "delightfully creepy" evolution. In the spot, future Supernatural star Felicia Day plays a woman in a laundromat. A snarky customer tells her, "You know, other people are trying to do their laundry, too." Just then, Chester, who is playing chess with a random guy nearby, calls her by name. "Felicia," he says. "You know, those are her whites in the dryer." 

Felicia takes his implication and runs with it, opening the dryer door and furtively tossing in a handful of neon-orange Cheetos onto the white laundry. When she turns, Chester has vanished. Onscreen graphics pop up reading "Join us," along with now-defunct website,

"Chester is no longer just an excitable Cheetos fiend. He's evolved into a complex character, one with mysteriously dark motives," wrote Slate of this new persona. "Why is he prodding us to do ill to our fellow man? How did he acquire a villainous, mid-Atlantic accent? And when did he learn to play chess?"

An animated series starring Chester Cheetah was met with serious resistance

There were big plans for Chester Cheetah in the early 1990s. Given the success of animated commercials built around the mascot, the idea was to spin Chester off into his own Saturday morning cartoon for the Fox network.

This plan, however, did not go over well with seven different advocacy organizations, which joined forces to create a coalition opposing a Chester Cheetah cartoon. According to a report in The New York Times, the coalition, which included such groups as Action for Children's Television and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission. The group sought a ruling that the potential series, Yo! It's the Chester Cheetah Show!, be barred from the airwaves due to its status as a "program-length commercial" masquerading as entertainment.

"His only previous television appearances, indeed his entire existence, have been in traditional commercial spots designed to sell a product," the petition read, noting that a series featuring Chester would violate FCC regulations by failing "to strictly separate programming material from commercial matter." The pressure apparently worked. A 1992 Associated Press story reported that a Frito-Lay spokesperson confirmed plans for the show had "been scotched."

Chester Cheetah broke into video games

While a Chester Cheetah animated TV series was quashed, the character eventually branched out into the world of video games. As Moby Games recalled, in 1992 video game manufacturer Kaneko released Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool, a game designed for the Genesis and SNES consoles. The storyline involved Chester living in a zoo when nasty zookeeper Mean Eugene steals Chester's beloved scooter and smashes it to pieces. Chester must then navigate throughout the zoo in search of those pieces so he can rebuild the scooter.

The game was apparently successful enough to warrant a sequel, 1994's Chester Cheetah: Wild Wild Quest. In this one, noted Moby Games, Chester leaves the zoo and hits the road in search of Hip City, only to be foiled once again when Mean Eugene rips up Chester's map. 

Chester's foray into video games then endured a 20-year hiatus until 2014, thanks to a promotional partnership between Frito-Lay and the successful Plants vs. Zombies franchise. As a press release shared on Facebook revealed, players of Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare could play as two different Cheetos-derived characters: Dr. Chester (a zombie) and Chester Chomper (a plant).

Chester Cheetah has his own verified social media accounts

While Chester Cheetah may predate the rise of social media, that hasn't prevented the Cheetos mascot from diving in headfirst. In fact, Chester has his own verified Twitter and Instagram accounts, each profile boasting hundreds of thousands in followers.

On Instagram, Chester promotes Cheetos advertising campaigns and charitable initiatives and shares Cheetos-related recipes from the Bon Appé Cheetos cookbook. These include such delicacies as Dangerously Cheesy Mac and Cheetos, and the Mountain Dew Mule, a variation on the Moscow Mule cocktail that substitutes Mountain Dew for ginger beer and adds a sprinkling of Cheetle, defined by as the fluorescent-orange powder that sticks to one's fingers when eating Cheetos.

Chester's Twitter feed is similarly promotional, tweeting videos from his commercials and even retweeting a 2020 post from the American Music Awards, heralding his appearance on the award show's red carpet. In addition, Chester celebrated National Boyfriend Day by offering advice to his Twitter followers. "You know when they say 'oh, i'm fine' when you ask what they want while you're at the store," he wrote in one advisory tweet. "They're not fine. They secretly want snacks. 100% of the time. Cheetos, specifically."

Chester Cheetah has a full line of merch

Chester Cheetah has served as the Cheetos mascot for so long that his familiarity in the public eye has led the character to become fully merchandised. In addition to items such as t-shirts, baseball caps, socks, and hoodies, Chester has also been branded on some other products that are a little less traditional. For example, Cheetos-loving fans can celebrate the holidays by wearing a truly hideous Cheetos ugly holiday sweater featuring Chester front and center (via Delish). When it comes to signature merch, however, it's tough to beat the collectible vinyl figurine offered by Funko

Back in 2016, as a way to promote Flamin' Hot Cheetos, a limited-edition holiday collection was launched. As FoodBeast reported, "Designs by Chester Cheetah" included such items as oven mitts, fuzzy slippers, a silky scarf, a sleeping bag, cuff links, makeup, a cologne called "Au de Cheetau", a Cheetos chair, and even orange-colored toilet paper emblazoned with paw prints. In addition, a cheetah-print onesie provided the opportunity for those into role-playing to dress up like the Cheetos mascot and unleash their inner Chesters. 

In addition to Cheetos, Chester Cheetah has his own line of snacks

It's not uncommon for mass-market purveyors of food to create a cartoon mascot to then sell products to consumers. Chester Cheeto is one such part of a long legacy of advertising campaigns that led to the creation of iconic characters like Frosted Flakes' Tony the Tiger, the Lucky Charms leprechaun, and Cap'n Crunch, to name but a few. Typically, the food comes first, then an appropriate mascot is devised. Chester Cheetah, however, proved to be such a successful marketing invention for Frito-Lay that the company actually created an entire line of snacks named for the animated cheetah.

Chester's Snacks include crispy "fries," popcorn, and "puffcorn," all coated with the familiar Cheetos dust, some with new falvors. Those tastes include the ever-popular Flamin' Hot, standard cheese, and even a bacon-cheddar variety. "When Chester Cheetah puts his name on a snack, you can count on a bold and cheesy flavor like you've never tasted," noted the snack's official Frito-Lay webpage. "Chester's snacks are made with a special blend of real cheese seasoning to give each bite the perfect pop and zing."

There was once a statue of Chester made entirely of Cheetos

Back in the summer of 2017, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium in New York City's Times Square launched a special exhibit devoted specifically to Cheetos. The Cheetos Museum, noted the Ripley's website, offered "an entirely immersive Cheetos experience where fans can get lost in a mirror-lined infinity room and search for hidden Cheetos shapes in the wall to wall exhibit made entirely of Cheetos."

Upon entering the exhibit, snack-food aficionados were greeted by a life-sized statue of Chester Cheetah made entirely of Cheetos, of course. The creation of artist Christiam Ramos, the Cheeto-based statue required 30 family-sized bags of Cheetos, stood more than six feet in height, and took 320 hours to construct. 

Cheetos snacks, oddly enough, aren't the only edible medium in which Ramos works. As demonstrated on his website, Ramos also creates portraits of celebrities using toothpaste and candy, including gummy bears, licorice, gum, mints, and more.

After Tony the Tiger rejected 'furries,' Chester Cheetah embranced them

Furries, for those unfamiliar with this particular subculture, were described by CNN as a large and diverse community of people "who celebrate fantasy animal characters with human traits."

How does Chester Cheetah figure into this? Well, back in 2016, members of the furry community began inundating Tony the Tiger's Twitter feed with some, shall we say, very unwholesome suggestions (via Gawker). Whoever was in charge of the fictional tiger's social media took action by blocking furries en masse. "I'm all for showing your stripes, feathers, etc. But let's keep things gr-r-reat – & family-friendly if you could. Cubs could be watching," Tony tweeted

With the Frosted Flakes mascot displaying a decidedly anti-furry bias, Chester Cheetah came to the rescue. "I welcome all fans to my twitter feed. Scales, feathers, or fur, if you enjoy my tweets then welcome!" Chester tweeted, instantly becoming a new hero to the furry community. "Tony the Tiger has forsaken us furries, all hail @ChesterCheetah as the new cat in charge!!" tweeted a fan. "He welcomes us with open and cheesy arms!"

Chester Cheetah was one of the numerous celebs to play Colonel Sanders for KFC

While the real-life Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, passed away in 1980, he lives on thanks to an uber-creative KFC advertising campaign in which an array of different celebrities have appeared in costume as Colonel Sanders. From Mario Lopez playing a hunky Colonel Sanders in a faux Lifetime movie, to a sun-worshipping George Hamilton as a tanned, extra-crispy Colonel, a dizzying number of stars have played the role in various TV commercials (via Entertainment Weekly). 

One of these stars was none other than Chester Cheetah, reported AdAge. In this commercial spot, Chester was costumed as a skateboarding Sanders, delivering a tray of the limited-time-only Cheetos Sandwich to some hungry skaters. The sandwich, available in 2019, was described by Eater as "a comfort food mashup" consisting of a "crispy chicken filet that's smothered in Cheetos sauce" sitting atop a layer of actual Cheetos, all wedged into a bun. The Washington Post was less kind in its review, characterizing the hue of the Cheetos sauce as resembling "the shade of orange that cartoons use for toxic waste."

Chester Cheetah chilled with rapper Bad Bunny for an inspiring purpose

Chester Cheetah has long been depicted as a cool-cat hipster. That aspect of his persona was taken to new heights in a 2020 ad campaign that partnered Chester with rapper Bad Bunny. That pairing was showcased in a commercial in which Chester pays a visit to Bad Bunny making music in a recording studio, where he gifts the rapper a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. 

As part of the promotional campaign, Chester also made a special appearance at the 2020 American Music Awards, where Cheetos was sponsoring the awards in the Latin music categories. A tweet from the award show's official Twitter account shared a photo of Chester showing off his Cheetle-covered fingers while posing on the red carpet. 

As a Frito-Lay press release pointed out, Chester and Bad Bunny unveiled the new single "Deja Tu Huella," titled after a Spanish phrase "that embraces the action of pushing boundaries with your unique individuality," translated as "leave your mark" in English. "This initiative is important because it's the union of two brands, the commercials are amazing, and it's an encouragement for the Latin community," Bad Bunny told Billboard.

Fans have speculated on Chester Cheetah's sexuality

Given that Chester Cheetah has been a pop-culture fixture whose presence on television has spanned from the 1980s until the present, there's still a surprising amount that we don't know about him. Turns out, there's still plenty of untold truth to Chester Cheetah. This came to light thanks to a poll on the VIPFAQ website. In the survey, respondents were asked to weigh in on Chester's sexuality, whether they thought he was gay, straight, or bisexual. The responses were pretty definitive. A whopping 91 percent believed that Chester was gay, while a mere nine percent thought he was straight. Zero respondents guessed that he was bisexual.

Another poll cited on the website speculated about Chester's recreational drug habits. Given that Chester is almost always wearing dark sunglasses, it shouldn't be surprising that an overwhelming 46 percent thought that Chester was indeed a recreational drug user, while 38 percent thought that he took drugs "regularly". Only 15 percent thought that Chester had never touched drugs at all.

Meanwhile, there was one facet of Chester upon which everybody could agree. Responding to a poll asking whether Chester is hot or not, 100 percent of respondents agreed that Chester is indeed a hottie.