The power of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos transcends species, as a recent viral video suggests.
TikTok creator Josie (@josie_kamdan) this week posted a clip of her 11-year-old golden retriever, Ben, fiercely protecting a bag of the popular snack food. The video has a whopping 8.5 million views and 2.1 million likes.
The caption read, “he will not surrender the hot cheetos.”
Josie’s video depicted the exceptionally handsome Ben sitting in the dark with a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos at his paws.
“My dog is eating hot Cheetos out of the bag, and he’s mad at me,” she said.
Of course, she tells the dog that he can’t eat the Cheetos. Ben, well, Ben will not go gentle into that good night.
“He’s actually so pissed,” Josie said.
As she approached and urged, “Give me your Hot Cheetos,” Ben emitted a low growl, furrowed his brow, and started to snarl his lips.
“I’m not getting near him. He’s literally so mad,” Josie said through laughter. “This is what hot Cheetos do to people.”
The camera cut twice, first showing Ben blocking his owner’s path and then barking to defend his precious snack food.
“Those are Ben’s now,” one commenter wrote.
Another comment read, “come on let him have em he yearns for the cheeto.”
One viewer chimed in, “he was def a hot cheeto girl [in] a previous life.”
Someone added, “you can SEE the anger in ben’s eyes.” Josie replied, “HE IS SO MAD.”
Another commenter wrote, “red 40 does it again.” (That refers to a meme about red 40 food dye, an ingredient in the brightly hued Cheetos; the artificial coloring has become a meme.)
“Tell him it’s not about the chips! Tell him You’re worried the bad will suffocate him!!” another commenter wrote. The creator replied, “that’s what I was worried [about].”
“I have never seen a golden retriever growl,” one person wrote. Someone replied, “At his age it’s not out of the ordinary, just his animal brain doing its thing. He could bite over it if you’re not careful though. He’s a good boy.”
Ben’s spicy behavior obviously struck a chord of relatability. And if you’re already on the internet, you don’t need to be told about the cultural cache of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which have found particular fandom among the Hispanic community and inspired viral videos and creative recipes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, development on this variation on the cheesy snack food started in 1989 at parent company Frito-Lay’s headquarters in Plano, Texas.
“The new product was designed to compete with spicy snacks sold in the inner-city mini-marts of the Midwest,” according to the Times.
@josie_kamdan he will not surrender the hot cheetos #dogsoftiktok #dogtok #goldenretriever #hotcheetos ♬ original sound – pitter_patter_pus_platter
As the Times also revealed in an investigation, a Frito-Lay employee named Lynne Greenfeld invented the Flamin’ Hot brand name and got the product started—not janitor-turned-exec Richard Montañez, who later took credit for the snack’s creation. He was even the subject of a biopic last year, directed by Eva Longoria.
The snack’s enduring popularity is evident, even without a golden retriever in demon mode. According to a 2022 story from Eater, similarly flavored products have flooded the market. Frito-Lay told the outlet that more than half of Americans have tried Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and 46% of Gen Z professed their love for them.
And while the jokes about Ben’s Cheeto dust-stained paws write themselves, several commenters on the video pointed out a likely explanation for his reaction to Josie’s attempts to take the bag away: “Resource guarding babes,” one commenter wrote.
“If you’ve ever watched as your pup stands rigid over their favorite toy, staring down any other dog who comes close, you might’ve witnessed resource guarding,” according to the Humane Society of the United States. “The term describes a behavior where a dog attempts to assert their ownership over something: toys, beds, treats, a shared water bowl, even a favorite human.”
“I resource guard my hot Cheetos too,” one commenter wrote. “Can’t blame him.”
Josie posted a follow-up video addressing the resource guarding comments and asked for tips on how to handle the behavior. “My dog has never been possessive like that over his food,” she said. She clarified that she was laughing because she was freaked out. The Humane Society clarified that when food is involved, there’s a more specific term, food aggression. While there’s no quick fix, the organization offers some tips, including positive reinforcement.
The creator also wrote in a text overlay on the second video that she didn’t feed Ben the Cheetos. He jumped on the counter and swiped a bag that her brother left out, she said. Josie said that she ended up getting the bag away from Ben by distracting him and taking him outside.
According to pet advice site DogsPlanet, small amounts of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos aren’t likely to cause dogs any problems, but larger quantities might not be safe—and they’re not healthy, regardless.
However, leaving chips on the counter can be deadly to dogs who stick their heads inside them and can’t get out.
This isn’t even the first time Ben’s gone viral. A TikTok posted on Jan. 2 about his bad breath racked up almost 4 million views.
The Daily Dot reached out via email to Josie and Frito-Lay for further comment.