Which Is Better: Cheetos Or The Aldi Brand?

There are two kinds of people in the world: The kind that adores that neon orange cheddar-flavored dust that coats their fingers from eating a bag of Cheetos ... and the kind that doesn't. (Fun fact: That cheddar dust has a name, and it's called "cheetle.") It's no wonder so many people adore them — Cheetos are scientifically proven to be an incredibly pleasurable snack. Packed for lunch, a car trip snack, or a night relaxing in front of the TV, Cheetos are always a great idea.

We're big Cheetos fans ourselves and have never come across a worthy competitor — that is, until we found Aldi's version of Cheetos, Clancy's Cheese Curls. Die-hard Aldi fans know that the store often creates nearly identical versions of name-brand groceries, and sells them for a fraction of the price. But how well does the Aldi version stack up in comparison to the original Cheetos? We decided to find out.

To compare these snacks, we purchased bags of each to sample side-by-side. Not only did we consider how they taste, but also how much each cost, the size of each bag, and the nutrition information. Of course, there are several different flavors of Cheetos on the market, including the notorious Flamin' Hot Cheetos, as well as Cheetos Puffs, and even Cheetos mac and cheese. But for this particular test, we stuck to the original Cheetos Crunchy and its Aldi counterpart. Read on to see how they compare.

Cost and size comparison

Before we even ripped the bags of these crunchy cheesy snacks open, we took a close look at the price and volume of each option. The retail cost of the Cheetos was printed on the bag at $4.49, which the grocery store honored. The Clancy's Cheese Curls from Aldi rang up at $2.19 before taxes. While prices may vary from store to store, we found these to be relatively average prices. Both bags claim to contain 8.5 ounces of cheese flavored snacks, although the Clancy's package reported the weight in metric to be 240 grams while the Cheetos bag lists it at 240.9 grams. It's not a significant difference and is most likely a minor discrepancy in weighing or rounding.

While their size may be equal, the cost difference is conspicuous. You can buy two bags of Clancy's for the price of a single bag of Cheetos, with an extra 11 cents left over. So if you've got a lot of mouths to feed, are working within a budget, or just can't pass up a really good deal — the Aldi knockoff is the clear winner of the cost comparison. But for those who love everything about Cheetos, the cost alone may not be enough to consider changing brands. With that in mind, we turned our attention to the nutrition information of each snack.

Nutrition comparison

Scanning the Cheetos nutrition facts, you'll notice that they clock in at 160 calories per serving. Clancy's Cheese Curls are slightly less caloric, at 150 calories per serving. (Both brands peg each serving at 28 grams.) Interestingly enough, the Clancy's nutrition facts indicates that there are about 8 servings per bag, yet Cheetos notes that there are about 9 servings per bag, which is odd considering both bags have nearly identical volumes by weight and serving sizes.

Digging a little deeper, we found that the major ingredients in each snack were the same, beginning with cornmeal, vegetable oil, and whey. But further down the ingredient list, we noticed some things that are a little more interesting. Cheetos are flavored with cheddar cheese plus natural and artificial flavors. Clancy's, on the other hand, are flavored with cheddar cheese, natural blue cheese flavor, and only natural flavors. While Cheetos are dyed with artificial color, Clancy's are colored with paprika extract.

Ultimately, you should know you're not eating a nutrient-dense food when you're enjoying either of these snacks. But if you're looking for a slight nutritional advantage, Clancy's Cheese Curls will be a small step in the right direction.

Taste comparison

Let's recap: There's no major difference in the bag sizes or serving sizes of either snack, but the Aldi-brand cheese curls come out on top by a wide margin in the cost comparison and a smaller, but noticeable, margin in the nutrition comparison. Deep down, however, we know that taste is what matters the most for many people.

The moment we opened the bags, it struck us how intensely orange Cheetos are compared to Clancy's  — and not for lack of the Aldi-brand cheese curls being plenty orange enough. Cheetos are just on a whole different level of radioactive orange, and we suspect that the extreme color could make you think that you're eating something with a stronger flavor. To avoid any visual influence, we sampled both snacks blind.

Simply judged by taste, we couldn't tell the difference between the two products. They have the same texture and crunch, same salty and cheesy flavor, and are both equally difficult to stop eating. If you put a plastic snack bag of the Clancy's Cheese Curls into your kid's lunchbox, we're almost entirely certain that they won't be able to tell they're not actually Cheetos. But if you're eating them side-by-side, it's easy to be convinced that the Cheetos are more addictive, because that electric orange color is just so strangely irresistible.

Overall winner

It's hard to compete with Cheetos. Whether it's the mesmerizing orange color, the nostalgic flavor, or simply how popular a snack Cheetos are, they are a go-to snack for so many fans. And we understand that plenty of people have strong brand loyalty once they've found something they like — especially with a food as delectable as the cheesy goodness that is Cheetos. 

But Aldi makes grocery items that are strong name-brand competitors and in this particular matchup, Clancy's Cheese Curls are particularly fierce competition. Not only do they cost half the price of a bag of Cheetos for the same amount of snack, but they've got slightly fewer calories per serving, and are made without artificial flavors or colors. While we wouldn't categorize either snack as particularly "healthy," they both satisfy that special craving for a crunchy, cheesy, and salty snack. (The cheese dust, or "cheetle," is just a bonus.) And when it comes down to it, we think the flavor of both snacks is fundamentally the same.

With that being the case, we think that the Aldi-brand Clancy's Cheese Curls are our winner because of their superior value for a comparable product. If you're not so sure that you're going to like the Aldi version instead, you can take comfort in knowing that they have a 100% money-back Twice as Nice Guarantee and will refund you the price of your purchase (plus offer a replacement product), even if you've eaten half the bag trying to make your mind up.