Every November/December, like clockwork, we always somehow remark on how we are so shocked, so bewildered, at how fast the year went by. 2023, unsurprisingly, has been no different. This year, we ran to movie theaters in all pink for the Barbie movie, camped outside stadium venues for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, and cried at the finale of Succession. We watched as Doja Cat gave a middle finger to her previous projects, and as Prince Harry became a meme.

While various pop culture moments were iconic, unforgettable, and sometimes cringey, we cannot talk about 2023 without paying homage to the glue — or cheese — that held it all together.

Folks, everyone’s favorite chip from the Frito Lay variety pack, Cheetos, are hereby the snack of 2023, and we have the GQ cover to prove it.

That’s right: Kim Kardashian, queen of SKIMS and losing diamond earrings in the ocean, has graced the cover of GQ as the Man of the Year in an oversized suit, cradling a bag of Cheetos Puffs. Her hair is just-out-of-shower damp — in an effortless, carefree way — and is licking her right thumb of that magnificent, neon orange Cheeto dust. It’s incredible — how does she make Cheetos look sexy?

But, she’s not the first to bring the cheesy snack into the mainstream this year. September brought us a Milk Bar and Cheetos collab. Megan Thee Stallion collaborated with the brand to create Flamin’ Hot University, and in March, there was even the Flamin’ Hot movie. Hell, there was a Coral Castillo and Cheetos Mac ‘N Cheese clothing line announced in August. Everywhere you looked, Chester Cheetah had dipped cheesy little paws in.

These collabs are proving that Cheetos are not just a nostalgic, childhood snack — they’re the The Snack To Be Reckoned With. Before this year, Cheetos had a forgettable reputation. They were a childhood favorite, a treasured treat for elementary school lunch, but have been dropped in place of pretzels and Kettle Brand Potato Chips.

But now, they’re cool, they have sex appeal (see GQ cover), they’re tasty — and the 2023 girlies love them. You can get them as puffs, Flamin’ Hot, Flamin’ Hot Lime, popcorn — the versatility of Cheetos moves me to tears. Carrying around a bag of Cheetos is like flaunting the new Birkin bag (don’t ask for my source, just believe me). 

Who knows why and how Cheetos have been having their moment, but I’m not complaining. If Kim Kardashian and Megan Thee Stallion are licking Cheeto dust off their fingers, even if it’s just for a campaign, I’m buying out the entire Cheetos aisle, no questions asked.