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Who is Richard Montañez? Meet the self-proclaimed inventor of Flamin' Hot Cheetos who inspired Eva Longoria's next film

Richard Montañez (Image via New York Post)
Richard Montañez (Image via New York Post)
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Sneha Haldar

Richard Montañez has shot into the limelight with the story of how he invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Flamin’ Hot became a runaway hit, and Montañez rose through the ranks and became an icon with it.

The story became so popular that Montañez's biopic has also been turned into a movie named Flamin' Hot. Directed by Eva Longoria, the film is now in post-production and will soon have a release date.

Here is everything to know about Montañez's legendary story and his rise to fame.


Who is Richard Montañez? All about his story of coming up with Flamin' Hot

Richard Montañez is a businessman and author, who is best known for claiming to have invented Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Montañez does not come from a business family and was raised in a California migrant labor camp as one of ten siblings.

Life was hard for him as he had to drop out of school and work as a laborer before being hired at the age of 18 as a janitor for Frito-Lay, at its Rancho Cucamonga factory, in 1976.

It is an interesting story how Richard Montañez came up with the Flamin' Hot Cheetos. He claims to have been working as a janitor at Frito-Lay’s Rancho Cucamonga plant when he dreamed up a chile-covered Cheeto.

When a Cheetos machine broke down, Montañez took home a batch of unflavored cheetos and seasoned them with Mexican spices. Impressed with the results, he took the leap of faith, pitching the idea to then-CEO Roger Enrico over the phone.

Montañez was invited to deliver an in-person presentation, where he presented the product as appealing to the growing Latino market, and provided samples in plastic bags that he had hand-decorated and sealed.

Six months later, the product was test-launched in Los Angeles and then finally approved for national release in 1992. It was reported that the flavor rejuvenated the brand and garnered billions in revenue.

Driven by the hunger to succeed, Richard Montañez out-hustled all corporate backstabbers who tried to pull him down for stepping out of line, and rose through the ranks to fame.

Montañez was subsequently named vice president of multicultural sales & community promotions for PepsiCo. and is now also a motivational speaker and instructor in leadership.

He has authored two books based on his life experiences, A Boy, a Burrito, and a Cookie, and Flamin' Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man's Rise from Janitor to Top Executive.


More about Eva Longoria's upcoming film based on the business executive

"It's not what you expect."@EvaLongoria Baston's next film as a director is "Flamin' Hot" — about the Frito-Lay employee who claims to have invented Flamin' Hot Cheetos. https://t.co/pJHeYsmYqT

Montañez's tale of a Mexican-American underdog whose ingenuity conquered the corporate world is a rags-to-riches tale that has gained a lot of popularity. It has now been adapted into a movie directed by Eva Longoria and produced by super-producer DeVon Franklin for Searchlight Pictures. Longoria, in an interview, reportedly said:

"I have Flamin' Hot coming out, that's the other feature film I also directed during COVID. It's fantastic, a biopic about Richard Montañez, the man who created the Flamin' Hot Cheeto. It's a beautiful, inspiring story and it's not what you expect.

Based on Montañez's book, the biopic is set to star Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Dennis Haysbert, Emilio Rivera, Tony Shalhoub, Matt Walsh, Pepe Serna, Bobby Soto, Jimmy Gonzales, and Brice Gonzalez amongst others. It has not received any release date yet.



Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul
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