Inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Visits OAB


Photo by: Moises Buitrago

Janitor turned executive Richard Montañez highlights the many highs and lows that would lead him to his executive job at Pepsi, including everything from his time working as a field worker, to dining with every president since Reagan, sans Trump, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019.

Story By: Kris Hall, Online Editor

Richard Montañez, the genius behind Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, gave a presentation at Fresno City College on Monday Oct. 28, 2019, in the Old Administration Building.

Growing up, Montañez  could see that he was different from other kids at school. He was the only kid who had a burrito for lunch and felt embarrassed about it.
He turned that embarrassment into cash when he started selling his burritos to other kids for 25 cents each.

Montañez says all you need is a revelation to create a revolution. His definition of revelation may stray from the mainstream, though.

“A revelation is something that is always there, but has been revealed to you,” he says. To him, this view on revelation is the key to his success.

Because of his work ethic, he was in the right place at the right time. According to Montañez, he was employed at Frito-Lay as a janitor but asked another employee if he could help assist him to learn more about the company. 

While helping this employee stock up a store with the chips and cheetos, he had a revelation of his own. “I saw it, and I looked at him [the other employee], and he couldn’t see it…because he was an expert.”

The Flamin’ Hot Cheeto was born.

Because of his invention, he was able to climb from janitor to Vice President of Multicultural Sales & Community Promotions. From that position, he’s been able to dine with every president since Reagan, according to Montañez, except the current administration.

Montañez spoke to students about leadership. He wanted students to know that even if you come from humble beginnings, you have every right to speak your mind. 

According to Montañez, there are two types of leaders, the pharaoh and the deliverer. “The leadership of a pharaoh is someone who takes people captive to build everything in their image,” Montañez told the audience, “everything looks like them, everything sounds like them, and everything is about them.” 

Everyone has someone in their life that they can liken to Montañez’ pharaoh, whether it’s at work or at home, or in the classroom, there is a leader in anyone’s life who acts like they know best and that it has to be done the way they want in order to achieve success, he said.

But according to Montañez, there is another way: The leadership of the deliverer. “They come into your life to help deliver you to be everything that you were intended to be,” says Montañez. “I had the pharaoh, and I had the deliverer. My life changed because of the deliverer.”

Montañez credits his success to the support of his wife and the wise lessons from his mother. 

He told his audience that there is a way to deal with fear, for being nervous. “Hunger is the antidote to fear,” Montañez revealed, “when you’re hungry, fear will leave.”