Cheese puffs

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This article is about the commercial extruded corn snack food. For the choux pastry with cheese, see gougère.
Cheese puffs
Cheese puffs in a bowl
Alternative names Cheese curls, cheese balls, cheesy puffs, cheese poofs, cheesy poofs, corn curls, corn cheese
Type Snack food
Place of origin United States
Main ingredients Puffed corn, flavoring
Cookbook: Cheese puffs  Media: Cheese puffs

Cheese puffs, cheese curls, cheese balls, cheesy puffs, corn curls, corn cheese are a puffed corn snack / crisp, coated with a mixture of cheese or cheese-flavored powders. Common brands include Pirate's Booty (U.S.), Cheetos (U.S.), Cheez Doodles (Northeastern U.S., Scandinavia), CheeWees (New Orleans, South Central U.S.), Chizitos (Perú), Boliquesos (Perú), Cheezies (Canada), NikNaks (South Africa), Twisties (Australia), Kurkure (India), Utz (U.S.) Wotsits (U.K.),[1] Curl (Japan), Pofæk and Chee.Toz (Iran), Cheese Balls (Nepal).

They are manufactured by extruding heated corn dough through a die that forms the particular shape. They may be ball-shaped, curly ("cheese curls"), straight, or irregularly shaped. Some are even shaped as animals or other objects. Puffcorn is a similar food, without cheese flavoring.


Cheese puffs were invented in the United States of America in the 1930s; there are two competing accounts. According to one account, Edward Wilson and/or Clarence J. Schwebke of the Flakall Corporation of Beloit, Wisconsin (a producer of flaked, partially cooked animal feed) deep-fried and salted the puffed corn produced by their machines, and later added cheese.[2] He applied for a patent in 1939 and the product, named Korn Kurls, was commercialized in 1946 by the Adams Corporation, formed by one of the founders of Flakall and his sons.[3] Adams was later bought by Beatrice Foods.

Another account claims they were invented by the Elmer Candy Corporation of New Orleans, Louisiana some time during or prior to 1936, at which time the sales manager for Elmer's, Morel M. Elmer, Sr., decided to hold a contest in New Orleans to give this successful product a name. The winning name, "CheeWees", is still being used today by the manufacturing company, Elmer's Fine Foods.

References and parodies in popular culture[edit]

In the American comic strip and book series Big Nate, titular character Nate Wright's favorite food, mentioned several times in the strip and book series, is Cheez Doodles. Wright even wrote a poem on the snack in one strip, titled "Ode to a Cheez Doodle".

The fictitious brand of cheese puffs called "Cheesy Poofs" appears regularly in the animated television series South Park, and the Frito-Lay company made a limited run of the snack in August 2011.[4]

The 2014 book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul mentions a brand of cheese puffs titled Cheez Curls.

The fictitious brand of cheese puffs called "Cheezy Dibbles" is one of the main running jokes of the 2014 film Penguins of Madagascar.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deirdre S. Blanchfield, How Products Are Made: An Illustrated Guide to Product Manufacturing, Gale, 2002, ISBN 0-7876-2444-6, p. 70
  2. ^ "U.S. Patent 2,295,868". 
  3. ^ Burtea, O (2001). "Snack Foods from Formers and High-Shear Extruders". In Lusas EW; Rooney LW. Snack Foods Processing. p. 287. ISBN 1-56676-932-9. 
  4. ^ Stuart Elliott (14 July 2011). "Celebrating 'South Park' by Bringing It to Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Cheesy Dibbles – the food for super spies". Coyote Productions Blog. October 11, 2014.