Here’s what I know about Hot Cheetos and Takis: after one of Lila’s Mexican friends introduced the spicy rolled corn tortilla snacks to her and the class, Lila was feigning for them like Pookie did crack in The Carter, and by the end of Fall 2011, they had so thoroughly jacked up her uber-sensitive stomach that I had to put the girl on Hot Cheetos and Takis rehab, which means she wasn’t allowed to even eye them in the snack aisle, let alone eat them again.
The kid’s been clean and sober for almost a year now, but Lawd, I didn’t know Hot Cheetos and Takis were a national thing until just this week, when stories about a viral rap video by a group of African American kids from Minneapolis started pop-locking across my Google Chrome. The song, aptly called, well, Hot Cheetos and Takis, is an ode to the crispy snack, as performed by the Y.N.RichKids crew, a group from the Beats and Rhymes after-school summer program at the city’s North Community YMCA. Their video, featuring several young ‘uns rapping about going HAM with those “snacks-on-snacks-on-snacks” to a surprisingly hot and catchy beat has been viewed well over 1.5 million times, making the Y.N.RichKids crew the toast of the summer.
Rolling Stone hails Hot Cheetos and Takis as “summer’s final truly great jam,” while NPR called the snack ditty completely addictive. Even CBS News gave it a “major triple-rainbow salute of excellence,” while The Village Voice weighed in with a serious critique and celebration of the kids’ musical, rap and visual performance prowess in its piece, “20 Best Things About Hot Cheetos and Takis.”
Of course, one website I greatly respect dismissed the video, wryly stating in his introduction that somewhere in China, similarly-aged kids are learning Boolean algebra. Shots fired. But not necessarily fairly. The kids here are a part of a program that allows them to use music as a vehicle of self-expression—that kind that isn’t always about snacks. The Y’s Alicia Johnson told NPR that the Beats and Rhymes program has produced eight albums since 2006, with students rapped about everything from violence to drugs to bullying. “These young people are amazing,” Johnson adds. “Snacks just happened to catch the attention of the world. [But] they talk about very relevant issues to the youth of today.”
Surely, the subject matter of Hot Cheetos and Takis is quite relevant to the kids it targets—the hook says it all:
Hot Cheetos and Takis, Hot Cheetos and Takis/ I can’t get enouuugh of these Hot Cheetos and Takis/ Got my fingers stained red and I cannot get ’em off me/ You can catch me and my crew eatin’ Hot Cheetos and Takis/ BOW!/ SNACK, SNACK, SNACK, CRUNCH!/ SNACK, SNACK, SNACK, MUNCH!
Of course, no word yet on just what all that red dye, hot chili pepper seasoning, citric acid, monosodium glutamate, maltodextrin, dodium diacetate, salt, sugar and oil is doing to the stomachs of 4th and 5th graders everywhere—and I’m sure that Michelle Obama is somewhere wishing these babies would have come up with a catchy tune for fruits, veggies, water and healthy snacks that won’t contribute to obesity and ulcers of kids everywhere.
Still, Hot Cheetos and Takis is adorbs. And addictive. And I’m totally not going to let Lila watch it, lest she have a relapse. But you gotta see the video. Press play. *snaps fingers and bounces to the beat*
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.