Strawberry Flavored Cheetos Seduce Sweet-Loving Snackers

Strawberry Cheetos, 'cuz nothing says "delicious" like strawberries & corn!Strawberry Cheetos, 'cuz nothing says "delicious" like strawberries & corn!
Frito-Lay, the makers of new Strawberry Cheetos, is a division of PepsiCo... the same folks who brought out Pepsi Ice Cucumber during Japan's record-breaking hot summer of 2007. This tells us two things: (A) the company is not afraid to pitch distinctive products to the Japanese market, and (B), they may not understand the Japanese market as well as they might think. Or not - Strawberry Cheetos join Milk Chocolate Cheetos in Japan's legion of snack vending machines.

Milk Chocolate Cheetos... seriously!Milk Chocolate Cheetos... seriously!
Cheetos have come a long way since San Antonio, Texas food chemist Charles Elmer Doolin invented them, Fritos corn chips, and a potato-based snack called "Fritatos". While Fritatos died on the vine, Cheetos spread across the snacking world to become one of Frito-Lay's most well-known products, along with Doritos. Competition is dog-eat-dog (or chip-eat-chip) in the snackin' biz, though, so the pressure to create new appealing snacks is intense.

Maybe too intense... as FL's most recent Japanese Doritos flavor (Honey Butter Doritos) illustrates. Imagine watching Japanese TV while snacking on Honey Butter Doritos and washing 'em down with slugs of Pepsi Ice Cucumber... sounds worse than snacking on slugs!

Japanese consumers have also had something called "Caramel Doritos Sweets" inflicted upon them. Perhaps PepsiCo's marketing wizards figure if they'll buy Pepsi Ice Cucumber, they'll buy anything!



Why the push to sweeten up snacks that have typically come in salty and spicy varieties? Some say that Frito-Lay is reaching out to women, who (supposedly) prefer sweeter snacks.

Cheesy enough for you?Cheesy enough for you?
I'm not sure if this strategy is sexist or not, and Frito-Lay hasn't published any market testing that proves their theory. One thing is certain, however... bizarre snacks like Frito-Lay's Strawberry Cheetos may not make waves in the marketplace, but they'll always make the news reports! (via Japan Marketing News)

Steve Levenstein
Japanese Innovations Writer

Jan 28, 2008
by Dom (not verified)

Frito Lay

Mr. Levenstein,

Do you live in Japan? Have you lived there a long time?
Have you studied the Japanese culture and language extensively?

I lived in Japan for 3 years of my life, studied the language and culture extensively for about 6 years of my life, am married to a Japanese woman, and believe I can state with the weight of experience behind me that NONE of these flavor combinations either surprises me or leads me to believe Japanese consumers - - the younger set among them, anyway - - would be disgusted by these combinations.

Strawberry or milk chocolate Chee-tos? Cucumber Cola? Honey Butter Doritos? WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL??? Japanese companies, let alone Frito-Lay, have been selling whacked-out flavor combinations for decades now to the Japanese consumer.

Forget snack chips and soft drinks. Let's talk PIZZA. Have you seen the whacked-out stuff Japanese put on PIZZA? Mayonnaise??? Curry??? Eggs? Corn? Seaweed? Squid? Octopus? Green Peas?

Now THOSE are gross, even from this Japanophile's viewpoint.

Those Frito-Lay and Pepsi items don't even come close.

Jan 28, 2008
by TheReez (not verified)


Okay, I have to ask. Anyone know who the girl in the bathtub is? (I feel so weird asking that.) Weirder still, I have a strange urge to get some Cheetos. In fact, I have never wanted orange fingers more in my life than I do right now, lol.

Jan 28, 2008
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

Gross is in the eye - or mouth - of the beholder

Hi Dom, thanks for your comment. To answer your questions, i have lived in Japan in the past, have studied the culture extensively, and am married to a lovely and charming Japanese woman who hails from Tokyo. You can be sure that i run most of my topic ideas and content by her; she's an excellent resource to help me judge what things are "odd" about Japan to Westerners and what things are just weird in general.

The concept of Strawberry Cheetos did not sit well with her as a Japanese, but that really wasn't my point. As always, i try to look at the ways Japan and Japanese culture filter things - like Cheetos - that we here in the West have preconceived concepts of. These changes are often interesting, occasionally amusing and sometimes even disgusting. To US. It's one way of holding a mirror up to both cultures and learning from the reflection.

A link to this article was posted at FARK and the comments made in the FARK forum run the gamut from extreme disgust, likening them to "liver cupcakes", to "Sounds interesting, i'd try 'em".

As for Japanese pizza, it's in a class by itself as some of the wilder variations will shock both Americans and Italians to their cores. Same with spaghetti - and Uni (sea urchin) spaghetti is actually a fave of mine. Hmm, sounds like a new topic idea!


Jan 28, 2008
by Anonymous (not verified)

I would totally try them...

I would totally try them... though the Cucumber Pepsi thing would be a little iffy for me... I'm up for anything though.

Jan 28, 2008
by Adrian (not verified)

Not surprised

I lived in Japan for 11.5 years, have a Japanese wife and three kids... Last year when we visited in the summer I tried to find that Pepsi Cucumber Ice drink, and not one person had heard of it - must have been really popular eh?

As for the Strawberry Cheetos, my wife wouldn't try it, but in Japan you can never tell - if it works as a good bar snack they may have a hit on their hands, but I doubt it will be more than a niche item.

Jan 28, 2008
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

Niche items

As can be seen with the dozens of different Kit-Kat bars available at any one time in Japan, there's a lot of room for niche items. IMHO it's a function of Japan being a wealthy country - manufacturers can afford to let borderline products build up a following while consumers have the cash to indulge unusual tastes. Of course i could be wrong, and it's just a case of throwing everything possible at the wall to see what sticks!

Jan 28, 2008
by Anonymous (not verified)



Jan 29, 2008
by Deganu (not verified)


Sounds good to me.We shouldnt doubt their abilities.Who knows,it might be a hit after all.

Jan 30, 2008
by bec (not verified)


Pepsi cucumber was actually quite good. I dont like fake strawberry flavoured things however and not a big fan of the milk chocolate, so I might not like these.

Recently Meiji put out a Chocolate potato snack. it is like those packaged fries but they are dipped in chocolate and they are amazing.

And as for that pizza comment, corn on pizza is about the best thing ever, in my humble opinion

Jan 30, 2008
by DensityDuck (not verified)

Tuna Fish Pizza

I recall a story about a gaijin visiting Japan; he made friends with a Japanese girl and her mom, and decided to take them out for pizza. One of the toppings offered was "tuna fish". Despite his protests they both ordered it, took one bite, and pronounced it extremely disgusting. None of the rest was eaten.

I guess the moral of the story is that while Japanese can recognize that certain foods should not be combined, they will still buy some.

Jan 30, 2008
by DensityDuck (not verified)

I like the advertisement...

The hell with the Cheetos, how much for the broad in the tub?

Feb 18, 2008
by Food Jammer (not verified)

does anyone know how to actually make a cheese puff?

Hey you cheese puff loving peeps,

We make a tv show in Canada where we experiment making various food dishes. This week we tackle the cheese puff. We're trying to figure out how to actually make the puff. Does anyone have any detailed info on how this is done?

Thanks in advance.


Mar 4, 2008
by Anonymous

Any way or place to buy strawberry cheetos form the US?

Any way or place to buy strawberry cheetos form the US? I want to try a bag.
Anyone know of a online store selling them that could ship here?

Mar 4, 2008
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

Buying Japanese snacks

My recommended source for any and all Japanese snacks is, just send them an email and say you read about the snack in question here!

Mar 8, 2008
by Anonymous

Strawberry Cheetos

that sounds so gross!