Flamin' Hot Cheetos Were Invented by a Janitor

By Mike Pomranz |
FLAMIN HOT CHEETOS HISTORY FWX

© John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

When it comes to success, some people like to suggest, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” But here’s another idea that works: Dump some spices on a bunch of plain Cheetos and sell it to Frito-Lay. That’s the story behind the guy who created Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Back in the 1970s, Richard Montaez was working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California, when he had the serendipitous moment that would change his life. According to Inc, after a machine broke, a bunch of Cheetos ended up not getting covered in their usual cheese powder. Montaez took some of these bare Cheetos home and perked them up himself by adding chili powder similar to what’s used on elote, corn on the cob that’s a popular street food in Mexico.

Related: Welcome Sweetos: The Sugary Version of Cheetos

Everyone who tried them loved his creation, so he spoke to his supervisors who encouraged him to talk to the company president. “I had two weeks to prepare a presentation to company executives,” Montaez told Inc. He got a book on marketing from the library, bought his first ever tie for $3 and put samples of his creation in sample bags he made himself.

And that’s how Flamin’ Hot Cheetos – the brand’s best-selling snack – was born, and also how Montaez became the executive vice president of multicultural sales and community activation for PepsiCo's North American divisions. (I need to read that book he got from the library!)

It just goes to show that good ideas can come from anywhere. It also goes to show that stealing leftover crap from your office can turn you into a giant success!

[h/t First We Feast]

 

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