The unforgettable true story of how a janitor struggling to put food on the table invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in a secret test kitchen, breaking barriers and becoming the first Latino executive at Frito-Lay.
Richard Montañez wasn’t supposed to have big dreams. Born to migrant farm workers and mired in grinding generational poverty, he left school in the sixth grade, eventually taking a job mopping floors at Frito Lay's California factory to support his young wife and family. Everything changed when one night, at 28, Montañez took his future in his hands: he used his wife's recipe for chili sauce to season a bag of plain Cheetos he’d snuck home. After an intense process of experimenting and testing, and an incredibly risky call to the company's CEO, breaking with protocol, Montañez launched Flamin' Hot Cheetos. He never expected the onslaught of discrimination, backstabbing, and attempted sabotage—or the chip's explosive success.
Flamin’ Hot shares the inside story of the world’s hottest snack food. Montañez not only disrupted the food industry with some much-needed spice, but also shook up a corporate culture in which everyone stayed in their lane. When a top food scientist at Frito-Lay sent out a memo telling sales and marketing to kill the new product before it made it to the store shelves—jealous that someone with no formal education beyond the sixth grade could do his job—Montañez was forced to go rogue once again to save his idea. Through creative thinking, community building, and a few powerful mindset shifts, he outsmarted the naysayers who tried to get in his way.
This is the inspiring story of a man who made a science out of walking through closed doors. It's also an empowerment manual for anyone stuck in a dead-end job or facing a system stacked against them. Flamin' Hot provides hope that your present circumstances don't have to dictate your future, carving a new path to the American Dream.