This week I reached out for a five-pack of Flamin' Hot Mac N' Cheetos, the sequel to last year's blockbuster hit, Mac N' Cheetos, at the runner-up burger barn, Burger King (with 15,000 restaurants 'cross the U.S. and 'round the world).
In 2013, Taco Bell hit a gusher partnering with Doritos chips, leading to three of its most successful product launches ever with Fiery, Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos.
So Burger King would have to be loco not to raid the supermarket snack aisle for Cheetos-inspired side dishes. As they say on TV poker shows, the "chip leader" is Frito-Lay, the big daddy who makes both Doritos and Cheetos. If you listen hard, you can hear Frito-Lay calling McDonald's and pitching, "Have you considered a Cracker Jack Big Mac?"
Here's the Flamin' Hot Mac N' Cheetos breakdown: gobs of creamy macaroni and cheese, rolled in spicy Flamin' Hot Cheetos dust and deep-fried until Crunch Level 10.
The heated breakdown
Total calories: 390 (for a five-piece order). Fat grams: 22. Carbs: 40 g. Sodium: 1,170 mg. Dietary fiber: 1 g. Protein: 9 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $2.69.
Flamin' Hot Mac N' Cheetos have an attitude. They turn up the heat, sure, but "Flamin' Hot" is hype. Parents put these chips in kiddie lunch boxes. You won't become a fire-breathing dragon. Burger King is an international restaurant chain, not a Japanese game show.
Bottom line, Flamin' Hot Mac N' Cheetos can't miss. Everybody likes macaroni and cheese. And who doesn't love Cheetos?
There is one big difference between original Mac N' Cheetos and the new Flamin' version. Last year, you returned from lunch with "Cheetos orange" fingers: "Hey, who wiped their hands on my car seats?"
With Flamin' Hot Mac N' Cheetos, deep red fingers with tattle on you. Nobody will believe your "I just had a salad for lunch. Watching my weight, you know."
Like shopping for a diamond ring, Flamin' Hot Mac N' Cheetos has the four C's covered: creamy, crunchy, cheesy and cheap. It's welcome relief from the french fries humdrum, definitely worth a test drive.