Sniff The Paw – An Eighth Anniversary Examination of Vintage Cheeteau

It is no secret that the pride of my fragrance collection is not any of my flacons of various vaulted Creeds. Nor is it my crystal bottle of Shiseido White Rose Natural, brought back from Japan by my loving wife, on a special fragrance mission. Nor is it my rare bottle of Kenzo UFO, that fragrance kept carefully in both the cool and the dark, refrigerated for many of its years, hiding its bizarre modern-art bottle, just to preserve its mind-bending ozonic odor.

No, my friends. The centerpiece of my collection is one of the first 400 bottles of a fragrance which took newsrooms by orange storm – that being Cheeteau, the celebrity fragrance of one Chester Cheetah.

Global icon Chester Cheetah unveils Cheeteau – a cheesy new fragrance reminiscent of the popular Cheetos snack, available for a limited time beginning April 1. Fans can find out how to get their paws on a bottle by visiting (PRNewsFoto/Frito-Lay North America)

I could give you the cheesy history of this cheesier fragrance as a dry summary of facts, but I prefer to entertain you with this lovely video.


The launch of Cheeteau in late March of 2014 included a chance for members of “the people” like me to snag a bottle, and – lucky boy that I am – I snagged one. The “lot number”, for lack of a better description, is the date of manufacture – 031814 (March 18, 2014).

I don’t remember if the deal was finalized on Twitter or on a Frito-Lay website, but the promised free bottle came in the mail, stuffed into a plain manila envelope, along with the “relaxing Chester” PR image you see above.

I quickly realized that the fragrance was one of those things which sound wearable in principle, but prove to be anything BUT, when the opportunity arises. You almost certainly do NOT want your clothes to smell like this. Thus, the fragrance sat for 8 long years, in a dark drawer, behind a bunch of neglected minis, and next to the dregs of a 1-ounce mega-mini bottle of Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce, in the original, tacky, “six-pack of abs” packaging.

Yes, how daft of me to treat the pride of my collection in such a cavalier way. Thankfully, my wife never found it, and thus never “borrowed” it, as she surely would have drained the bottle.

Indeed, I can’t help but notice that Cheeteau’s bottle resembles that of my wife’s beloved Chanel No. 5 L’Eau, improved by a precious thin aluminium cap, in the famed le decant style, instead of mere glass. Le Lion had best watch out. Le Guépard is on the prowl.

So – let’s get down to business. How does it smell?

VERDICT: Sex in a grocery store.

Now, when I say that, you may remember something like THIS:

WELLLLL – Cheeteau is different. As in a different section of the store – or maybe even in the back area, where the stinky cheeses are stored. And maybe a little less “PG” on the imagery.

Let’s start off with the fact that this fragrance smells “like” Cheetos, but to the discerning nose of either a Cheetophile or a perfumista, or in my case BOTH, it is NOT a strict match for ANY of the edible variations on Cheetos.

In that category, I include the familiar Cheetos Puffs, the more modern, and denser, Cheetos Crunchy, and even one of my favorites, Chester’s Puffcorn. All of which I have available for comparison as I write.

The fact that Cheeteau isn’t a strict reproduction of any form of Cheetos is actually a good thing. The smell of pure Cheetos in a bowl, or even Cheeto crumbs on fingers, is not all that interesting. In contrast, Cheeteau is VERY interesting.

For starters, Cheeteau has some of the smell of an actual perfume. In fact, the very first whiff is the one that will catch you off guard, because you may think “Hey, this smells like a fragrance from Macy’s. This stuff is going to be in my comfort zone.”

A definite “maybe” to that thought.

The brief impression that this might be a real fragrance, is likely the work of citrus and ethyl maltol, as well as some typical basenotes.

You are initially presented with something that begins to smell like a feminine gourmand. That lasts between a half a second and two seconds.

To quote my dear wife:

First it smells like perfume.
Then it smells like food.
It’s not very good.

Please. Don’t let that one perspective throw you off. This is niche fragrance. We expect a little weirdness.

Or maybe even…..

What happens right away is that the cheese starts to come through, but – HUGE shock – it’s actually very good cheese, and very nuanced. The cheese is not alone.

Indeed, what I smell is very much like the “gourmet” section of better grocery stores. I smell CHEESE – good cheese – I smell MEATS – quality processed meats – I smell BREAD – good stuff with real crust on it – I smell the BAKERY – I smell the DELI – I smell COOL, FRESH, and RECIRCULATED AIR – and last but not least, I smell some kind of perfume struggling to get out.

It’s a very ambient smell – with the different recognizable scents having much more “note separation” than mere “sniff the Cheetos crust on my fingertips” or “bury my face in the bag.”

Like I said – sex in a grocery store. Just add James Bond or a Bond girl, smiling at you from the deli counter. The rest is up to you.

And yet……

Yeah. It’s Cheetos.

Cheeteau is not actually a bad fragrance, and oddly, it gets better and better as time goes on. It seems to improve faster on skin than on paper. Paper stays cheesy, but skin gets bready.

On my skin, it actually gets pretty good after an hour or so, turning into a bready gourmand akin to Jeux de Peau.

However – WORD OF WARNING – the cheese never goes away. But if you’re a FOOL for asiago cheese bagels like me, this scent is actually a reasonable, if weird, gourmand.

So – should you go out and buy a bottle of Cheeteau?

In my opinion, this fragrance is ONLY worth pursuing if:

  • you’re a collector of oddball fragrances
  • you have an industry connection to manufacture of Cheetos
  • you’re a fan of every possible kind of gourmand, and you crave novelty
  • you need inspiration to write a script about sex in a supermarket

That’s it. In fact, if you never smell this, you’re not missing out on much. Put away all thoughts of FOMO on this sucker. You don’t need it. You need to sniff Jeux de Peau.

Because THAT ONE is sex in a bed and breakfast.

And after sex, if you can’t have good coffee and a cinnamon roll, eat some Cheetos. It’s better than a smoke.

Additional Cheeteau Bibliography

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