Our resident snack aficionado is here to give you the lowdown on what’s up in terms of Argentine snack goods. This week she tackles those cheesily delicious snacks we all know and love, the ole’ cheese puff.
Palitos de maiz, chizitos, cheese puffs — whatever you call them, these addictive nuggets of salted styrofoam are the loves of my life. I’ve pretty much tried all the brands in Argentina, but here are four commonly found ones for comparison. Let this be your guide next time you’re craving some puffed cheese product (because what are you doing with your life otherwise?) The following is ranked from least crave-able to most.
#4: Día brand: “Palitos de maíz horneados”
Price: $13 for 30g ($0.43/g)
- Visuals: About the size of half a thumb, and the color is a dark yellow with mysterious specks of brown (for flavor?).
- Smell: Just slightly funky, but it lost its aroma really quickly.
- Texture: Crunchy at first, but immediately turns more plasticky and dense once you chew it.
- Taste: Día really took a chance with this formula, not sure they knew what they were doing. Tastes like Corn Flakes cereal! There’s basically no cheese flavor. They really drove home the maíz part, but forgot the whole cheese thing…
- Conclusion: If you like Corn Flakes but wish they were puffy, then these are for you. Their old product was definitely more like a standard cheese puff, albeit more plasticky and not abundantly coated.
#3: Cheetos: Horneados Clasico
Price: $24 for 56g ($0.42/g)
- Visuals: Size of half a thumb, with a medium amount of powdering.
- Smell: Very funky (the funkiest out of the four). Smells like blue cheese (hints of sweetness), feet, and salami.
- Texture: Super crunchy in a light and airy way. It disintegrates nicely, and doesn’t become a chewy, foamy blob like the cheaper brands.
- Taste: It’s not as funky as it smells, unfortunately. It doesn’t have a strong cheese flavor.
- Conclusion: Kind of bland, and not salty enough. Disappointing for Cheetos.
- Bonus Tip: Cheetos also has a Torbellino variety whose selling point is that it has more surface area for the cheese coating, I guess? They honestly didn’t taste any more special though — tasted pretty much the same as the classic ones.
#2: Carrefour: Palitos de Harina de Maíz
Price: $44 for 150g ($0.29/g)
- Visuals: Much thicker than the previous two, and the color is paler as well. Día seems to have copied Cheetos, and Carrefour seems to be a Krachitos knock-off.
- Smell: Very close to the Día ones.
- Texture: Quite styrofoam-like, and it becomes very dense once you start chewing.
- Taste: Very salty, and not really cheesy.
- Conclusion: Highly recommend spending a little more to get the Krachitos.
#1: Krachitos: Palitos de Harina de Maíz
Price: $30 for 65g ($0.46/g)
- Visuals: Same size as the Carrefour ones, and a little paler in color. Reminds me of white cheddar snacks.
- Smell: A little fruity, and oddly, a bit of white wine.
- Texture: Softer/not as crunchy, but it’s got a nice chewiness at the end.
- Taste: This was the cheesiest of the bunch, and the aftertaste is quite salty, but not as salty as Carrefour’s.
- Conclusion: Winner! Best cheese flavor out of all of them.
- Bonus Tip: Krachitos also has a Bastonitos variety whose flavor is “Extra Queso” — that is trash and tastes weird. Stick to the classic.
The brand name varieties are markedly higher quality in texture (more money for better extruder machines), but not necessarily better in taste. I definitely recommend the Krachitos Palitos, but you won’t go wrong with the others if you really just want some crunchy cheese (with the exception of Día’s new formula because those are Corn Flakes). I would also avoid the neon chizitos in unmarked bags at all costs — they taste like chemicals and paint.