Staying stocked: Flamin' Hot Cheetos may soon be a 'staple' in Duke's vending machines

Picture this. 

It’s the end of the day, and you’ve just gotten back to your dorm. You approach the vending machine with DukeCard in hand, already beginning to savor the cheesy delight of Flamin' Hot Cheetos—only to discover that the snack you were dreaming about since your last class started is out of stock. 

You stare at the vending machine, defeated and upset, until you accept your fate, select a different option and move on.

Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Students notice when the snacks they enjoy disappear, and they’re not always okay with it. With vending machines in lots of buildings on campus, it makes sense that students come to depend on certain options being available. 

But Hot Cheetos seem to be coming back. 

In an email to The Chronicle, Pat Walker, general manager for Duke University Stores Operations, shared that Hot Cheetos are normally only offered a couple times a year, but she put in a request to make them a ”staple” for the Duke campus.

“The contractor submits their chip order 2 weeks in advance, so we should be seeing the Cheetos in a couple of weeks—hopefully near finals,” Walker wrote. 

Walker explained that typically, changes in what products are stocked occur when an item’s demand is sub-optimal. 

“If [a product] sits there and the row doesn’t move, what we try to do is put in another product and see if it moves better,” Walker said. 

As a result, some snacks have seemingly just disappeared as options. 

Responding to a post on the Fix My Campus Facebook group, junior Zohair Zia recently commented on the “scarcity" of Hot Cheetos in snack machines on campus. 

Other have been replaced with alternative versions of students' mainstays. First-year Morgan Patton lamented a change in the Pop-Tart offerings in vending machines around campus.

“I’m disgruntled about the replacement of the strawberry Pop-Tarts with the weird half-and-half Pop-Tarts,” Patton said. “I feel cheated.” 

Some students are passionate about snacks farther off the beaten path. Sophomore Caroline Petronis mentioned she was upset that the vending machines in Perkins Library's Link are no longer stocking tuna salad packs.

“They’re such a good snack when I’m studying late and Vondy is closed, which is most of the time that I’m there,” she wrote in a message. 

Walker said that Duke Stores receives feedback daily from students, faculty and even visitors, and they use that feedback to inform stocking decisions.

Some students report positive experiences with vending services on campus, with their requests for certain options met promptly.

“One time, I asked the Wilson dorm vending machine guy if he could bring Goldfish next time, and he did not disappoint,” first-year Alicia Steiman wrote in a Facebook comment.  


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