Pepsi-Flavored Cheetos?

Apparently some people really relish the combination of Cheetos and Pepsi — so much so that the Frito-Lay Company is selling Pepsi-flavored Cheetos in Japan, and eventually could bring that combination to America.

It doesn’t sound very enticing to me, but I’m not partial to the taste of Pepsi.  According to the Los Angeles Times article linked above, the new product replaces the overpowering cheesiness of Cheetos with a Pepsi flavor instead.  In addition, some reviewers are saying that the taste goes overboard with the citrus element of Pepsi.

If that description is accurate, I think this new product misses the point.  Although I don’t eat Cheetos or similar “snack foods” anymore — my 56-year-old constitution is no longer capable of quickly breaking down such items, and instead simply and irrevocably deposits them on my waistline in the form of immutable belly fat — my recollection is that part of the pleasure of the Cheetos-Coke combination was first savoring the over-the-top cheesiness, then having that cut by the cola taste, and finally letting the cola soak into the Cheetos until you could smush the individual Cheetos nugget between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, allowing the cheese and cola combination to come flooding out.

In short, there was a sequencing of flavors issue, a texture issue, a combination of flavors issue, and then a tactile sensation issue, all rolled into proper consumption of Cheetos and a cola.  Just replacing the cheese flavor with a Pepsi flavor wouldn’t come close to replicating the real experience.  For that reason, I predict Pepsi-flavored Cheetos will end up in the great scrap heap of failed new products.

Marriage And Money

How much of a successful marriage is attributable to what money can buy?  Do good marriages now carry a price tag that working class Americans cannot afford?

Those are some of the questions explored in a scholarly paper that looks at work and marriage in working class and middle class families.  A Slate article on the paper contrasts the stories of two families.  A Mom in Ohio works at a minimum wage job and has had two failed marriages, one to a man who left and another to a man who beat her; her 20-year-old daughter also has had an abusive relationship and is now dating a guy in jail.  Neither wants to get married soon.  The middle-class family in the Pacific northwest, on the other hand, can afford weekends at a vacation cabin, annual travel, and building a barn and buying a horse for their daughter who had begun “acting out” and then enrolling her in a private school involving horses.

The paper, Intimate Inequalities: Love and Work in a Post-Industrial Landscape, is based on interviews and surveys of more than 300 Americans.  It focuses on job stability and security.  Secure middle-class couples can afford luxury items like vacations and gym memberships that keep their marriages viable, whereas working class people who don’t have stable sources of income are more concerned with keeping a job and their own survival than with providing materially and socially for others.

I have no doubt that economic uncertainty and loss of a job can provide additional stress that can turn a rocky marriage into a divorce.  The two stories in the Slate article, however, also suggest that other, more important factors can come into play.  Marriages simply don’t last when one spouse is physically abusive, no matter how many horses a couple can afford.  Men who can’t make a long-term commitment aren’t going to make good husbands, regardless of socioeconomic class.  Dating guys who are in jail probably isn’t a good recipe for a stable and satisfying married life.  Serial philanderers, people with emotional problems, and others who are ill-suited for marriage similarly are found at all income levels.

There’s something a bit off-putting, too, in the implicit suggestion that successful marriages are primarily about money, rather than love and compatibility.  Depicting marriage as primarily an economic arrangement that people will endure because it allows them to take nice vacations inevitably discounts the essential emotional component of a strong marriage.

Sometimes marriages end in divorce because people grow apart over time; sometimes they fail because people just exercised poor judgment in getting married to people who weren’t suitable in the first place.  Money woes and job concerns may be a factor in some instances, but I think successful marriages are about a lot more than what is in the bank account.