You often hear people in the public relations profession say that PR is the best kind of advertising you can get.

But then again PR sceptics would argue that we would say that wouldn’t we.

Yet if you take a closer look at the latest newspaper headlines about a popular children’s snack, which is currently in the process of being barred from schools across North America, then you’d be hard-pushed to disagree with the PR side of the story.

According to reports that are coming out of the US, kids are going mad for a new flavoured snack called Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which has prompted concerns about their nutritional value on account of the fact that they are so incredibly addictive.

Children are now shunning potato chips, Fritos and other snacks on the convenience store shelves in favour of the spicy puffed cornmeal bites, with many kids saying they eat up to four packets a day.

The craze for the Mexican-inspired cheesy puffs has even spawned a popular YouTube video, ‘Hot Cheetos and Takis’ by Minnesota teenage rap group Y.N. RichKids, which has already seen 3.5 million visits since it first appeared on the site back in August.

And now many schools have reacted to the fears of doctors and parents about the health implications of eating so much of the artificially coloured snack and have duly banned the consumption of Cheetos on their premises.

But we all know exactly what happens whenever someone tries to ban something – it only serves to draw in more attention, increase interest and drive more sales of the product in question.

In the case of Cheetos, the result has, in effect, been a resounding public endorsement that no advertising budget could ever buy and a message going out to the world that the snack is so incredibly tasty that kids just can’t get enough of the stuff.

The only nagging doubt that might remain for Cheetos is whether claims about their nutritional value can be substantiated. In this case, the brand could suffer a painful consumer backlash that affects the whole of its product line.

However, this is another PR issue entirely and a matter of preparing to cross that bridge should they come to it.