Meet the Janitor Who Invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Geo Beats
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The flavor and the recipe for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were the brainchild of a janitor working at the Rancho Cucamonga, California Frito Lay factory in the mid-1970s.

Next time you break open a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, know that you’re about to take a bite of the American dream.

The flavor and the recipe were the brainchild of a janitor working at the Rancho Cucamonga, California Frito Lay factory in the mid-1970s.

Richard Montañez said the idea came to him when he saw a food vendor put cheese and chile on a bowl of corn. He thought, why not spice up a Cheeto?

After perfecting the recipe he called the company’s CEO who asked Montañez to come in and pitch the idea.

He barely spoke English at the time, but forged ahead, getting a book on marketing from the library, packaging his test snacks, and buying a tie.

Clearly, the meeting was a huge success and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are now the company’s best-selling product.

That’s not the only happy ending, though.

Montañez has since become the executive vice president of multicultural sales and community activation for PepsiCo’s North American branch.

He hasn’t forgotten where he came from, though, and uses his success to help others, providing scholarships for Latino students and food and clothing for needy families.

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