The Story Behind Flaming Hot Cheetos

Sometimes, inspiration just hits you. Sometimes happenstance is more powerful than diligence. Sometimes, you make shit happen instead of waiting for it to happen to you.

This, my friends, is the story of Richard Montañez; a man who leveraged his background and innovation into a high-powered career. How, you ask? By inventing the scrumptious Flamin’ Hot Cheeto.

Richard was born in Mexico and grew up in California. His family didn’t have much, and Richard was pretty content with the cards he was dealt. Richard dropped out of high school, and got a job as a janitor at the Frito-Lay Rancho Cucamonga plant.

One day, the president of the company sent out a video message to all of his employees, urging them to “act like an owner,” and the sentiment resonated with Richard. Afterwards, a machine in the assembly line at the factory malfunctioned: leaving that day’s batch of cheetos without their orange, cheesy topping. Richard saw the undusted cheetos as an opportunity: a blank slate upon which he could build his future.

He took the crunchy bits home, and cooked up his own special batch of hot cheetos, inspired by the popular Mexican street food elotes: corn with mayonnaise, cheese, lime, and chili powder. The chili powder was the kicker: cheetos were about to be changed forever.

The recipe was a hit! Coworkers and friends encouraged him to take the idea to upper-management, and guess what? He did it. The rest is history.

Now, Richard holds a prestigious position: as the executive vice president of multicultural sales and community activation for PepsiCo’s North American divisions. He’s also had a hand in marketing for KFC and Taco Bell. Without Richard, the world would have never tasted Cheetos’ best selling flavor, nor have been graced with what is perhaps the greatest song of all time, Hot Cheetos And Takis.

There’s a lesson in this inspiring story for all of us: put chili powder on fucking everything.

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