As yet another example that immigrants make huge contributions to the U.S., NextShark revealed that the inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is, in fact, a Mexican immigrant, making what is possibly the best snack invented by man even more amazing.
Richard Montanez, who grew up in Gausti near Ontario, Calif., dreamed of “driving the trash truck.” As a kid, he helped support his family by picking grapes in vineyards. He had a hard time learning English and ended up dropping out of high school. In 1976, he began working as a janitor at the Frito-Lay Rancho Cucamonga plant.
Montanez told WKNO News in 2015 that he was inspired by a video message from the CEO of Frito-Lay, telling every employee to “act like an owner.”
“He wanted the janitor to act like an owner? I went into action,” he said. “I started researching my company. I saw no products that were catering to Latinos or to the person who loves spices.”
One day, the assembly lines broke and left some Cheetos without their bright orange dust. Montanez brought them home and decided to coat them with chili powder, inspired by none other than Mexican elote (corn on the cob topped with butter, cheese, and chili powder).
He reached out to plant supervisors about his groundbreaking idea, and the president of the company gave him the chance to pitch to company execs. He had two weeks.
According to NextShark, he and his wife borrowed a book on business strategies from the public library and he went and bought his first-ever tie for $3. He pitched his idea, they loved it, and today, he’s an executive leading multicultural sales and community promotions across PepsiCo’s North American divisions. He’s head of the Frito-Lay hispanic marketing team, and has influenced other hispanic-inspired products for Taco Bell and KFC.
“My disqualifications are the very things that qualified me,” he told a crowd of 300 at the 2013 Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's annual Power of Diversity breakfast.
“Your own people will hold you back. Break ranks. That’s diversity and inclusion. Don’t just hang out with your own. Maybe I wasn’t created to fit in. Maybe I was created to stand out. My greatness is courage. I’m willing to take a chance.”
You Might Also Like