Canada

Giant Cheeto statue appears in rural Alberta — the province known for its roadside attractions

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Alberta — the land of giant pysankas, giant perogies and giant kolbasa — now has a giant Cheeto.

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Specifically, a larger-than-life effigy of a Cheeto grasped by three fingers that are depicted as being heavily stained in orange cheese dust.

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The community was originally named after Walter Butler Cheadle, a British pediatrician who would be among the pioneers of diagnosing the U.K. epidemic of childhood rickets during the Industrial Revolution.

But his name got attached to an Alberta town for entirely non-medical reasons. Rather, the railroaders who named the town were fans of a humourous 1865 travelogue written by Cheadle in which he detailed an overland trip through the lands that would soon become Western Canada.

Cheadle has no mayor, but PepsiCo was able to score an endorsement from the president of the local community club, James Gosteli. “Where else could the Cheetos brand honour the iconic Cheetle, if not here,” he said in a statement.

Small-town Alberta is awash in giant roadside attractions, many of them depicting food. An hour south of Cheadle is a statue of the starship Enterprise constructed in the centre of Vulcan, Alta. Go 250 kilometres to the southeast and the community of Bow Island has the world’s largest representation of a pinto bean.

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In the heavily Ukrainian-Canadian settlements around Edmonton, meanwhile, are the aforementioned giant perogy and giant kolbasa.

The Cheeto statue was reportedly created by F&D Scene Changes, a Calgary-based firm whose past projects have included a contract to repaint the World’s Largest Dinosaur, a larger-than-life tyrannosaurus statue in Drumheller, Alta. They’re also behind a series of giant “YAHOO” signs installed around Calgary for the 2019 Calgary Stampede.

The Cheadle statue is a bold marketing stunt for the U.S.-headquartered Cheetos, given that a disproportionate number of Canadian snackers have already given their heart to a competing brand of extruded corn snack.

While Cheetos are indisputably the top-selling corn-based cheese snack in the United States, large swaths of the Canadian market remain dominated by Hawkins Cheezies, a product manufactured in Belleville, Ont., whose invention slightly predates that of Cheetos.

Oddly, however, it appears the statue will only be a temporary part of the Alberta landscape.  A statement announcing the sculpture’s unveiling noted “Canadians have until November 4 to visit the Cheetle Hand Statue.”

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