Test the limits of your taste buds to see if you can still feel anything.

By Tim Nelson
Updated June 08, 2020
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They say one of the symptoms of Covid-19, at least in certain people, is the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of one’s sense of taste. A friend who’s recovering from the disease recently described it as “everything tasting like ash.” I didn’t ask him about it directly, but I’d presume that means that the zesty kick of spicy foods would all but disappear from your palate as well.

So if you’re worried you’ve lost your sense of taste and are having trouble getting a Covid-19 test, you might want to track down a bag of Cheetos’ new Flamin’ Hot Pepper Puffs. As the product proudly announces, these things are the “hottest” ever, though it’s unclear if that’s meant to apply to past Cheeto iterations or if it’s actually hotter than literally every chip in existence.

Because we supposedly eat with our eyes first, the visual components of the Flamin’ Hot Pepper Puff (say that five times fast) will underscore its heretofore unencountered levels of heat. The puff is shaped like a pepper—hence the name—and it’s bathed in a fiery shade of red Cheeto dust so you know that it means business.

In terms of snacking best practices, a PR email mentions that you should “be sure to have a cold beverage nearby when you eat these, because your taste buds will be tingling.” Given that Cheeto company Frito-Lay is also part of the same conglomerate as Pepsi, I imagine they’d want you to choose Kylie Jenner’s favorite protest soda, but milk probably works best.

So if you’re in the mood to torture yourself with spice or just use it as a vehicle for finding out if you have Covid-19, you’ll find packs of Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Pepper Puffs exclusively at Walmart and Circle K for the time being. Just don’t rub your eyes after sticking your hand in the bag.