Last week, a couple in Dallas discovered a Jesus-shaped Cheeto in their bag of Cheetos. They promptly named it Cheesus, which is a masterstroke of marketing (although not that original, it turns out), and are considering auctioning it off on eBay—with the implied threat that if it doesn’t sell, they may just eat it. The big question you may be asking yourself now is, “How can I get in on this racket?”
It’s partly a matter of luck, but it also takes a good eye for spotting the random edible miracle. You should also remember that context is everything: you might find a Shiva or an Apollo, but they’re not going to be that newsworthy in the U.S., so stick with tried-and-true icons like Jesus or the Virgin Mary. A Cthulhu-shaped snack might net you some cult fame, but probably not a lot of money.
Over the weekend, I picked through a bag of Cheetos—or “my retirement chips” as I was calling them—looking for any recognizable icons I could sell. My theory was that any average bag of Cheetos should contain at least one auction-worthy chip. I had mixed success—out of one bag, I found four recognizable icons, but only one of them was definitely religious in nature. I have emailed Frito Lay to inquire about a buy-back program, but have yet to hear from them. I’d really rather not bring eBay or PayPal into this.
The fact that there were four in a single, random bag of Cheetos hints that this may be an unexplored market for the person willing to carefully sift through every bag of chips on the store shelf. If you take our freemoneyfinance guy’s advice to heart and devote an hour a day to this, who knows what kind of riches you may eventually end up with?
Update: Frito Lay has answered my query. Unfortunately, their answer is no.
First, here was my email to Frito Lay:
Hi. I sorted through a bag of Cheetos on Monday and found 4 different Cheetos that look like either religious figures, movie stars, or cartoon characters. I was wondering whether Frito Lay would be willing to buy any of them from me. One in particular looks like the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus aloft. Another one looks kind of like Socrates.
If you have some sort of buyback program for religious snack products, please let me know and I’ll gladly pack them up and ship them to you.
And here was their response:
Thank you for writing to us about the interesting shapes in your bag of Cheetos.
You might want to start a collection or, like some people, sell them on E-Bay. We have quite a collection of our own—sent to us over the years by consumers who found them amusing.
We consider you a valued consumer and hope you will continue to enjoy snacks from Frito-Lay.
Frito-Lay Consumer Affairs