So, it was another Friday night at Harry’s Banana Farm in Lake Worth, and Gerard Campbell was sitting at the bar with his two friends sipping a Miller High Life and listening to the jukebox.
The only thing to eat at that Dixie Highway watering hole are bags of chips and snacks. Campbell, 61, got a bag of Cheetos and shared them with his semi-retired friend, Gary Wilson, 69, who aimlessly started eating them.
That’s when it happened. As Wilson raised another dusty orange puff to his mouth, he stopped to examine the top end of the Cheeto.
“It was a couple of inches from my mouth, and I looked at it and said, ‘For cryin’ out loud, that looks like Donald Trump.’”
When held in profile, the craggy fatter end of the Cheeto does appear to look like a human head, and it doesn’t stretch the imagination too much to see it as President Donald Trump’s head.
“I was only a couple of beers into the evening,” said Wilson. “If I had more, I probably would have just eaten it.”
But instead, Campbell, Wilson and their other friend, Shelly Reynolds, 54, gathered around the Trump Cheeto and saw it as one of those forks in the road that life hands you.
Do you laugh, then eat the Cheeto and go on with your evening? Or do you see this as a stroke of good fortune, and seek to preserve this specimen as a possible ticket to fame and fortune?
“My thought right away was this Cheeto is worth something,” Campbell said. “I thought, this is the real deal.”
“There’s got to be some Trump fan out there somewhere that would buy that Cheeto,” she later said.
Campbell, a former radio journalist, vaguely recalled stories about other anthropomorphic food oddities that sold for big money.
“I remember the grilled cheese Jesus and there was a Cheeto once that looked like Harambe the gorilla,” he said.
It was actually a grilled cheese sandwich in Hollywood, Florida, in 2004 that appeared to have the face of the Virgin Mary on the bread. It was auctioned off on Ebay under the name “Grilled Cheese Madonna” and purchased by a casino for $28,000.
Harambe was a Western lowland gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo that was killed two years ago after a 3-year-old boy fell into the animal’s enclosure. The killing of the gorilla became global news.
“Flamin’ Hot Harambe,” a spicy Cheeto that looked like the gorilla, sold for $99,000 at auction last year.
And let’s not forget the Nun Bun, a cinnamon bun in a Nashville coffee shop in 1996 that looked so much like Mother Teresa that the store’s owner had the pastry shellacked and put on display in the window.
It became known as “The Immaculate Confection,” and drew crowds that bought T-shirts and mugs. Then it was stolen, and despite a reward offer of $5,000, it never resurfaced.
So who’s to say how much a Trump Cheeto might bring?
“We decided to preserve it,” Campbell said. “And whatever happens, we split it three ways.”
On the night of the discovery, Campbell got the bartender to give him a plastic baggie and used a bunch of paper towels to nestle the morsel in the trunk of his car before he and his friends continued with their evening. Then they all forgot about the Cheeto for three days.
But it’s hard to completely forget about a Trump Cheeto. And so days later, Campbell found the Trump Cheeto was still intact and he started considering the options.
There are already some Cheeto-themed Trump items for sale on Ebay, the online auction site.
Which isn’t surprising. Trump’s autocratic tendencies and sometimes-orangey hair has led to such derisive nicknames as Cheeto Mussolini and The Cheeto Benito.
On Tuesday, there were two Trump Cheeto auctions in progress on Ebay: a Flamin’ Hot Trump Cheeto with an asking offer of $99.49 and an arms-extended Trump Cheeto with an asking offer of $25.
Neither had any takers, and neither were as good as the Lake Worth Trump Cheeto.
Lou Destout, who manages Harry’s Banana Farm, considers the Trump Cheeto that came from his bar just another proud chapter in its long, colorful history.
“I don’t know if this will be bigger than the Virgin Mary on a cracker, but we’ll see,” Destout said. “We’re just all peeing our pants here about it. And I’ll do whatever to help promote these guys. They’re regulars.”
So don’t be surprised if you see Harry’s iconic sign on Dixie Highway proclaim itself to be home of the Trump Cheeto.
In the meantime, Campbell said he and his friends are planning to post the Trump Cheeto on Ebay on Friday, because that’s when the real Donald Trump will be spending the weekend a few miles away at Mar-a-Lago.