Snacks & Candy

Cheetos vs. Peatos: Orange Snack Rivals Duke It Out

Frito-Lay filed a cease-and-desist letter in May for various trademark violations

PLANO, Texas -- PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division has accused pulse snack brand Peatos of belittling the Cheetos brand.

Frito-Lay sent a cease-and-desist letter in May to Peatos, protesting its paw-print logo and slogan, “Tigers live longer than cheetahs,” according to a report from the The Wall Street Journal. Frito-Lay also claimed that Peatos’ name was “confusingly similar” to and “dilutes” the Cheetos brand.

“We are up against the Super Bowl-ad-wielding, snack-aisle-dominating, small-brand-crushing, 8,000-pound gorilla of snacking,” said Nick Desai, CEO of World Peas, which produces Peatos, in a press release. “We are on to something huge. Peatos replaces the traditional corn base used in many popular 'junk' snacks with a nutrient-dense pulse base (peas and lentils) and still delivers the same orange, cheesy goodness in a crunchy texture. By doing so, we create a junk food-tasting snack with tons of benefits.”

Frito-Lay did not respond to a CSP Daily News request for comment by posting time. According to the newspaper, the cease-and-desist letter, signed by PepsiCo's Senior Marketing Counsel Jenny Allenbaugh, said, “Frito-Lay welcomes honest and fair competition; however, we cannot condone the misuse of our trademarks ... and free-riding on our investments in the Cheetos brand to elevate yours."

Peatos, a subsidiary of World Peas and Snack It Forward LLC, are made of pulses and claim to contain more protein (4 grams vs. 2 grams) and fiber (3 grams vs. 1 gram) per serving than Cheetos. The snack is available in the produce section at various retailers nationwide, including more than 2,000 Kroger locations. Its flavors include Classic Cheese, Fiery Hot, Chili Cheese and Masala.

“If you are going to play in the puffed-cheese snack category, you’d better be ready to take the Cheetah head-on,” said Desai. “They are not a major player in the category, they are the definition of the category, much like Q-tips or Kleenex. We have turned the category on its head with disruptive innovation similar to when the flip phone was replaced by the smartphone.”

Peatos is turning heads with its better-for-you offering. Even Facebook recently replaced Cheetos with Peatos at its Menlo Park, Calif.-based headquarters—a subtle, yet telling blow to Cheetos, Desai said.

Los Angeles-based Snack It Forward aims to evolve modern snacking with better-for-you, plant-based “junk food,” it said.

Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo has a portfolio of more than 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales. Besides Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay North America, its main businesses are Pepsi, Quaker, Tropicana and Gatorade.

Photo courtesy of Snack It Forward

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