Located on Alberta’s Highway 24, about 35 kilometres east of Calgary in Wheatland County, the hamlet of Cheadle (pop. 83) is best-known, if at all, for sharing a name with an Oscar-nominated actor.
But that changed this week when PepsiCo Foods Canada’s Cheetos brand unveiled a striking statue at 400 Railway Avenue, just down the road from equipment supplier Barbeejay Supplies and across the street from Cheadle Hall Community Centre.
Dubbed the Cheetle Hand Statue, the 17-foot tall monument was made by Calgary-based fabrication company F&D Scene Changes. It consists of three fingers holding a Cheeto aloft, their tips covered in a representation of the distinctive orange “cheetle” dust that’s left on people’s fingers whenever they eat the popular snack.
Lisa Allie, PepsiCo Foods Canada’s senior marketing director, said that Cheadle was the obvious place to put up the statue. “We just couldn’t resist the kindred name,” she said. “Where better to honour the iconic Cheetle than in a hamlet that sounds just like it.”
Allie said that the primary goal of the campaign is to generate awareness of “Cheetle” as the official term for Cheetos dust, which she said is a “new word” for Canadians. PepsiCo has been using the word “Cheetle” as a trademark since at least 2020, although there is some debate about its provenance.
Memorably described as “a regret-inducing caking of orange powder” by Food & Wine magazine, Dictionary.com’s etymology of the word found that it actually dates back to the 1980s, when it was first used by U.S. comedian Rich Hall as one of his “Sniglets” (words that should be in the dictionary, but aren’t) on his show Not Necessarily the News.
Hall originally dubbed it “cheedle,” with Dictionary.com noting that the “cheetle” spelling first appeared in a computer finger-painting game in 2004 and 2005. It was later properly defined on Urban Dictionary.
It’s not the first time that Cheetos has dabbled in the art world, however. Last year, the brand partnered with the street artist Lefty Out There to introduce artwork made from the dust at Miami Art Week’s Art Basel, and once created a museum to host Cheetos that look like things.
And Cheetos is just the latest brand to pursue statue marketing, a tactic that has been around for some time. State Street’s “Fearless Girl” is arguably the most famous example, although other brands like Adidas and Budweiser have also dabbled in the space.
But if you’re a fan of what my family jokingly calls “big things by the side of the road,” you’d better get to Cheadle fast. Like (cheetle) dust in the wind, the statue is only temporary, coming down on Nov. 4. It’s probably for the best though, since given that statue’s phallic nature, it’s probably only a matter of time before local vandals make some revisions.
They would be easy to find though: They’ll be the ones with cheetle on their fingers.