Flamin’ Hot Cheetos ‘Creator’ Ricardo Montañez’s Story Contradicted By Frito-Lay
Ricardo Montañez, who has claimed for years to be the inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, is being contradicted by the brand’s producer.
The company Frito-Lay said nothing for years, letting the story spread around the world. A biopic about his purported invention was in the process of being made when his former employer claimed that Montañez forged the entire story of being the creator of the product.
Montañez claims that he gave the chief executive of the company the idea to create Flamin’ Hot Cheetos while he was working as a janitor. The product’s success “propelled Montañez’s rise through the corporate ranks.”
Montañez was also able to make a living out of his story. The Los Angeles Times wrote an investigative piece that says he attended several events for industries such as Target and Walmart, profiting from each appearance he made.
Several former employees from the Frito-Lay company claim that Montañez did not invent the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Frito-Lay told Times that no “records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market.”
“We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved … in the test market,” claimed Frito-Lay.
Times reported that the name of the product was actually invented by an employee named Lynne Greenfeld in 1989.
After hearing that someone else was taking credit for coming up with the name, Greenfeld contacted Frito-Lay.
“We value Richard’s many contributions to our company, especially his insights into Hispanic consumers, but we do not credit the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or any Flamin’ Hot products to him,” said Frito-Lay.
The director of the biopic, Eva Longoria, says she feel “immense pressure” about getting the story right and says it shares his “journey and how he succeeded in a world that says no.”
Montañez is not backing down and is “going to continue to stand on his story,” his spokesperson told Entertainment Weekly. “After 42 years, he doesn’t understand why (Frito-Lay is) taking the position they’re taking.”