XXtra, XXtra, Read All About It
Cheetos are the only chips I like (yeah, yeah, they’re not really chips in the potato sense) and it’s not like I’m presented with Cheeto-snacking opportunities on a regular basis. But there’s something about road trips that brings out my true junk-loving nature. As kids, whenever my dad (never my mom) would stop at a convenie nce store/gas station , he’d invariably come back to the car with treats not allowed during day to day life, like Hostess pudding pies (do they still make those? Er, apparently not), mini Bama pecan pies (no, I didn’t grow up in the south) and it might have only happened once but I will always remember a can of tooth pain sweet Nehi Strawberry soda. Mars bars were his candy of choice, which have been transformed into the modern Snickers with almonds.
On the longer than anticipated drive down to Key West from Miami (Google estimated three hours, but it took more like five because people drive so freaking slow, which is to say exactly the speed limit. I’ve never seen such a thing around here, and even though it’s infuriating to get mowed down by New Jersey drivers when you’re going 80 m.p.h., it’s more excruciating to be stuck on a one-lane highway doing 35) I managed to avoid gas station candy (but I was lucky enough to run into a CVS and find Great Lash Blackest Black mascara, an item I forgot to pack, mere feet from the entrance and with a dollar off coupon attached to it. You don’t know how good it feels to spend less than four bucks with zero legwork to pick up a necessity). However, we didn’t avoid fried seafood but that’s not for now.
On the way back to Miami, I picked up a Chick-O-Stick, which was kind of blander than I remember and I swear, slightly cinnamon tinged. I love limited edition snacks (they also had blue cheese and buffalo flavored Doritos packed together in the same bag, which was kind of clever) so I was happy to see James pick up a 99-cent bag of XXTRA Flamin’ Cheetos at a mini mart. I hate food that claims to be hot and isn’t. Wow, their “twice as hot!” was no hyperbole. These fiery nuggets were way more heated than either of us anticipated and possibly not good driving food. They induced coughing and I was afraid James might veer off the dimly lit highway into a manatee laden swamp or something.
Five days later, last night, the bag was still in our apartment, maybe ¼ full. I started picking at the Cheetos and they were hot but not as wildly punishing as they seemed on the weekend. Had my palate toughened up or had they lost their kick?