Cheetos Flavors: Mexican Janitor Turned Millionaire After Giving Cheetos an Extra Kick

Mar 03, 2016 04:20 AM EST | By Anita Valensia

If you think only American Idols are living their dream, you're wrong. Behind that Flamin' Hot Cheetos, there's a man who worked as a janitor.

Richard Montanez lived in modesty where most kids in the neighborhood struggled to find decent job in the factory. Recalling his past, Montanez supported his family by picking grapes and began working as a janitor at California's Frito Lay Rancho Cucamonga in 1976.

His genius idea to create innovative Cheeto coating came unexpectedly after an assembly machine failed cheese-dust the snacks. Montanez took home some unflavored Cheeto and decided to coat them with butter, chili and cheese. He was inspired by elote, a popular Mexican street food of corn on cob.

Loved by co-workers and family members, Montanez decided to step up and sell his coating creation to the company's boards. After hearing what Montanze had to say, the CEO invited him over for a demonstration. No tie and no English but his designing skill and library-borrowed book had helped him to create powerful presentation. Now, Flamin' Hot Cheetos is one of the best selling snacks from Frito-Lay.

His humble beginning of adding Cheetos an extra kick earned him a position as an executive in Frito Lay. He joined the company's Hispanic marketing team to expand the product B2B sales and promotions. It also inspired Hispanic products in fastfood chains like Taco Bell and KFC. "Fear will never get a hold of you," Montanez explained how he finally seized his opportunity that had changed his course of life.

At the annual event of Power of Diversity, Montanez made a speech about how his PhD - poor, hungry and determined - led him to become who he is today. For the last few years, Montanez has been busy making trips with his corporate jets, meeting the US presidents, and speaking as guest in front of the MBA students.

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