You Will Never Guess Who Invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

flamin hot Cheetos janitor

Do you ever wonder how your favorite snacks came to be? If not, it’s certainly worth thinking about. The world of food history is full of interesting facts, amusing stories, and maybe even some creative inspiration. For example, during World War II, the U.S. military bought 100 million pounds of cheese powder for their rations. When the war ended, the military sold the excess to manufacturers like Frito-Lay, who debuted Cheetos in 1948. As for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, the popular snack’s spicier older cousin? You might be surprised to learn that the story started with the creative mind of a Frito-Lay janitor.

Who invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?

His name is Richard Montañez. According to an article on CNBC, he was the son of a Mexican immigrant and was raised on a migrant labor camp. His family didn’t have a lot of money, and he struggled with basic reading and writing. As a result, Montañez dropped out of school at a young age and worked a variety of low-wage jobs.

In 1976, Montañez was hired as a janitor at the Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California. One day, a machine in the assembly line broke down and a batch of Cheetos didn’t get their usual dusting of cheese powder. So, Montañez took them home. But instead of eating them plain, he added chili powder. His inspiration came from a local street vendor who sold elote, a Mexican grilled corn made with lime and chili.

Montañez’s friends and family loved his creation.

He then reached out to Frito-Lay’s CEO at the time, Roger Enrico. Montañez was told to present his idea in two weeks — so he bought a tie for $3 and checked out a marketing book from the library. He even took initiative and designed a bag for the product, too.

As you can probably guess, Montañez’s presentation was an absolute hit. Since then, the ex-janitor has moved up in the company, and has even held the position of an executive vice-president.

Meanwhile, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos continue to be one of the company’s most popular snacks.

These days, Montañez works as a motivational speaker and is part of various non-profit boards. His story is being made into a movie, too!

Montañez’s story proves that inspiration — and delicious snack ideas — can be found anywhere.

Did you like it?

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.5 / 5. Vote count: 237

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy Your $19.99 FREE Copy of Our Digital Cookbook!

Enjoy our FREE Digital
Cookbook as Our Way of
Saying Thank You!

I agree to the storing and processing of my personal data by So Yummy as described by the Privacy Policy.

Get your So Yummy Cookbook digital copy - for Free!

Enjoy surprising, smart and absolutely gorgeous home cooking recipes & tips

Thanks for subscribing!

Your Cookbook Awaits in Your Inbox