Sheltons Organic Turkey

if I empty out all the unimportant stuff here, maybe there'll be more room in my head for important things

name: shelton brett
location: western u.s.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

the problem with cheese dust

During this holiday season, I'm reminded of a harrowing story involving cheese dust. That's right, harrowing. I'll make the connection to the holidays after I first tell the story.

It was sometime around 1995 when we were driving from Laughlin, NV (yes, the same Laughlin featured almost every week in episodes of Unsolved Mysteries) to Tempe, AZ after a very tiring night of mediocre blackjack and trying to keep friend Pat from riding display models of jetskis on the elevated stages between banks of slot machines. (Let's just say Pat was having a worse night financially than me, but perhaps a better time with the complimentary beverages.) Anyway, neither of us got a great deal of sleep that night, both of us were sleepy and hungry, so what's better to munch on the way home than some delicious Flamin' Hot Cheetos? "Nothin'" would be the correct answer.

So as I'm lazily eating this scrumptious snack, I was also licking my fingers of the red cheese dust in an ordinary attempt to keep things tidy, and to not over-cheese my fingers between handfuls. Mind you, this was an acceptable technique because we were not sharing the bag (Pat doesn't enjoy the spicy things, he will start to sweat and get uncomfortable, as he's been known to do with chicken wings in the Arizona area) and the bag was a 99 cent, single person size.

The information I didn't know, which would lead to my demise, was that cleaning the fingers of the Flamin' Hot dust--while effectively removing the actual tiny pieces of cheesy substance--does not completely remove whatever spice it is that makes the cheetos so darn flamin' hot. Sort of like when you decide to remove the seeds of jalapenos by scraping your fingers through a split one. You might as well just stick red hot pokers under your fingernails, and there's NO RELIEF by the way, I'll make that mistake, oh, I'm thinking only one time ever. I digress once again. So we're riding back to Tempe in the car when I find the need to vigorously rub my tired eyes with supposedly clean hands, albeit stained red with licked cheese dust. That's when the burning set in. Not just a little burning, but full-on pepper-spray to the face like I was a trailer park victim of a Cops episode. Oh, the agony! Tears streaming down my face, no water in sight to splash in my eyes, hands rendered useless by (again) the aforementioned cheese residue, and no where even to run to expel the pain. So I had to sit in the seat and scream for any source of relief, as we passed cars on the highway. Through a tear-shrouded veil I distinctly remember passing another car and seeing the frightened faces of two kids who were staring at me: my head out the window, holding red-stained hands in the air like I was scrubbed for surgery, screaming at them and crying out the window, "My eyes! My eyes!"

At the very least, I'm ready to support putting warning labels on those bags that inform the snacker of the dangers involved in touching one's eyes when eating the snack.

So, not to give the wrong impression, I'm definitely "pro" cheese dust. I love that stuff as much as the next guy, especially the Cooler Ranch dust from Doritos. Although certain rules must be followed when addressing the cheese dust, such as not using the licking method to clean the dust, then diving right back into a community bag. The same as the "double-dip" violation so eloquently portrayed in an episode of Seinfeld when George takes a bite of a chip then puts it back into the community bowl of dip. "It's like putting your whole mouth into the bowl." Licking your fingers then going back in the bag for more is like putting your whole mouth into the bag.

So, how does one clean the hands of cheese dust at a party? What is the proper etiquette? We know that a dry rub on a napkin simply does not satisfy. What about when you're snacking and working? You certainly can't have the cheese dust getting all over your keyboard as you blog. You can't use a pen or pencil, either, as the dust migrates to other things you're working with, whether it's paper, photos, or (ahem) student essays they've turned in. Something must be done to help.

So this brings me full circle to the idea I have for the holidays, and I'm seriously considering calling-up Ronco for this idea: the Cheese Dust Remover. Okay, the title needs work. But the idea is that there's a little vacuum-like system to safely remove the dust from your fingers after inserting the snack into your mouth, without having to lick them when it's not proper (or safe) to do so. Imagine sitting at your laptop, reaching for a Nacho Cheesier, putting it into your mouth, dabbing your fingers on the patented CheeDeeRem effectively removing any remaining substances, then going right to your keyboard without fear of having any snack remnant fall into your computer. It's a million dollar idea. Now, I haven't exactly figured out how the CheeDeeRem works, if it will actually suck the dust off or if it works like a Swiffer type system using positively-charged wipes to pick up negatively charged pieces of cheese product. I dunno. But I think something like that should work pretty well. So next time you're at a party (think Super Bowl or something) and you see a big bowl of chips with some sort of dusty flavoring, think about how handy a little CheeDeeRem square off to the side of the bowl would be. Then contact me with a check for investment money.

By the way, you can buy some cheese dust to sprinkle on your own foods, but I don't know if it's as good as what Frito-Lay manufactures. It looks more like the cheese in the packets of cheap macaroni-and-cheese boxes. I also ran across this article that describes some brown cheese dust as possibly being due to cheese mites, the "brown" being a combination of alive and dead mites and their excrement. Uhhhhh. That's just nasty.