Richard Montañez’s story about how he invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is inspiring. It may not exactly be true.
Everyone loves a rags to riches story, and that what’s we got a few years ago when outlets like The Washington Post and NBC News published the inspiring story of a Mexican-American man named Richard Montañez who went from working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant to catching the attention of the company’s CEO with an idea for a spicy flavored snack that would become Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The underdog story captured many hearts, including that of the actress and director Eva Longoria, who will be making a film about Montañez this summer after casting actor Jesse Garcia in the main role. But an investigation by The Los Angeles Times this week alleges that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were not invented by Montañez, but by a team at Frito-Lay. Montañez has disputed these findings. Though Montañez may not have exactly invented the snack that became so popular among children that it was banned in schools, he was someone who rose up the Frito-Lay corporate ladder, an employee who the company says offered “many contributions.” Producers of the upcoming film say that the new claims will not affect the movie’s production and the controversy remains very … spicy.