For those keeping score last week, you’ll know that my review stash was raided by Pedro and so he gave me a few mainstream snacks he found at a border truck stop, which leads us to the second look at a Flamin’ Hot product from Frito Lay. This time around I’m trying out the Funyuns, and it’s a product I’m more familiar with than the Cheetos from last week. I haven’t had this hot variety before, but the standard version I’ve had as is, as well as using it in a variety of cooking applications. Seeing that I like hot food and these are more of the snack type I would usually buy, I’m hoping its a marriage of two good ideals.
Honestly, I’ve never taken a peek at the ingredient list of a bag of Funyuns, and I’ve learned a few things from doing it this time around. First, I would have never thought they were a mainly corn-based product, and I’m surprised to see things like cheese and buttermilk in this, as I’ve never thought of these as a product with high dairy content. Here’s the full list of what we’ve got (minus some sub-parenthesized parts to the major items): Enriched Corn Meal, Vegetable Oil, Salt, and less than 2% of the following: Corn Starch, Corn Flour, Buttermilk, Sugar, Monosodium Glutimate, Yeast Extract, Cheddar Cheese, Artificial Color, Citric Acid, Whey, Onion Powder, Maltodextrin, Lactose, Garlic Powder, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Skim Milk, Sodium Diacetate, Gum Arabic, and Extractives of Onion.
These crisp rings of what I now know as corn-based snack are fairly similar in comparison to color as the Cheetos, with a bright reddish-orange tint, and the signature yellow color to standard Funyuns is well masked. The aroma is the most different part of this, as my remarks earlier about the oddity of dairy is shown first in the aroma, having a cheese like aroma to it, and it is now more obvious that some of the items that I thought were funny are based on the spicy cheese powder they are using, and not the standard mix. The typical onion aroma is missing and replaced with the cheese aroma, so now I know that this should be a sort of cheesy onion flavor to look forward to.
The cheesy flavor is first, and represents most of the flavor you get from the snack, but then you get the first hint of spicy, and you begin to notice the usual oniony Funyun flavor. After a few seconds the heat then amps up again and takes your focus back to the cheesy powder flavor, but this time you can tell there is actually a hint of chili flavor to this, even though it’s not listed anywhere on the ingredient list. Something about spicy cheese powder being an accent on this snack instead of the main feature seems to give it more rounded flavor, and it tastes much less one-dimensional than the Cheetos were. If I had to pick between the two in a store, I’d go for the Funyuns instead. The heat keeps at a Mild level, and while I won’t call it a well-balanced flavor, it does merit more than a Neutral rating, so I’ll be giving it a Nominal rating, since it is one of the better mass-produced spicy snacks I’ve seen out there.
P.S. These seem to require a little more handling to eat than just sliding them out of the bag in to your mouth, so be prepared for the tell tale orange fingertips.