Giant roadside Cheeto attracts a crowd in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Getty Images)
Cheetos originated in Mexico, but now they’ve made a slow, but steady rise to prominence, with 1.4 billion sold worldwide in 2016, more than $1 billion in revenue, and growing fast.
The cheetos were first discovered by a Mexican rancher on his ranch in 1947. The rancher sold the cheetos to a local grocer for $.25 for an ounce of the red bean-like fruit. He bought them for the fruit’s taste, rather than the color, and added chocolate to them, but sold them anyway to his American customers. For years they were sold for just $.50 for an ounce, then $1, then $1.50 for a pound. As they spread across North America, they became an afterthought. But one man at a time, they continued to grow.
Cheetos, made from a variety of the fruit, were first made for chocolate-making in Mexico, but the popularity of the chocolate was too much and the cheetos had to be made of chocolate as well. Cheetos are a staple of the American diet, found on the shelves of grocery stores, Mexican food stores, and even online. Some people will eat a handful of chips for a snack, while others make a whole meal out of them.
While the cheetos started out with a humble purpose – to use the fruit in a low-cost chocolate production – the cheetos have gone on to become a cultural icon, with their rise to a billion-dollar industry and their role in foodie culture, and it started in Austin.
It was on June 16, 1967, when the world first fell in love with Cheetos.
The first Austinites to see Cheetos in the news, however, were not the famous musicians, Austin’s own Bob Seger or Pearl Jam, but a local grocer.
In April 1967, the grocer, Joe Sowell, decided to sell his chocolate-covered fruit in order to move some business