Flaming Hot Cheetos Are Seriously Sending Kids To The ER

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Several school districts in New Mexico, Illinois, and California have made the move to ban Flaming Hot Cheetos from school vending machines. It turns out the snack is causing an outburst of unnecessary trips to the ER.

If you have ever seen the snack, you know that it is a color not found in nature. It’s almost as if Cheetos found a way to harness the neon-glow of Vegas into a little snack-sized bag. Well, at the risk of being gross – have you ever gone to the bathroom after consuming a large quantity of beets?  You may have thought you were dying. The concentrated color of some foods can actually show up in stool – and totally freak you out.  This is what seems to be happening to parents of children who consume a lot of the snack.

Parents have been visiting ER’s across the country in droves because they thought they were detecting blood in the stool of their children.  You can’t blame them – seeing that crazy color would alarm any parent.  To make the matter even worse, if your child is consuming too much of the snack, he may be experiencing some serious gastro-intestinal problems.  The peppers and spices used to make the snack “flaming hot” can irritate a a child’s sensitive GI tract.

Some health officials are also claiming that the snack provides no nutritional value and can be addictive.  No kidding. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a snack in a vending machine that actually provides any nutrition at all – and we all know how addictive sodium is. But apparently this goes beyond salt content:

“It’s something that has been engineered so that it is fattier and saltier and more novel to the point where our body, brain and pleasure centers react to it more strongly than if we were eating, say, a handful of nuts,” Ashley Gearhardt, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Mich., told the Chicago Tribune of junk food. “Going along with that, we are seeing those classic signs of addiction, the cravings and loss of control and preoccupation with it.”

This all boils down to a larger issue that needs to be tackled – getting healthier foods in our schools. Vending machines filled with sugary sodas and snacks with no nutritional value aren’t doing anything for our children. Do we really expect them to make responsible  decisions when all of this junk is at their fingertips? Do you remember what it was like to be a child?

My friend and I once stumbled upon a vending machine that was broken. All of the candy was just dropping out of it. You would have thought we won the lottery. It was one of the best days of my life. Kids love candy and junk. They are drawn to foods that are crazy colors not found in nature. Sometimes I think parents groups go overboard, but this time I am totally on their side.  A “snack” that leads parents to thinking that their children are suffering from internal bleeding is just too much.

(photo: Stephen Coburn/