Update May 24, 2021

A recent article from The Los Angeles Times cast doubt on Richard Montañez’s claims to inventing Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The article caused anger in the Latino community with some painting it as a deliberate takedown of a successful Latino. PepsiCo released a new statement to add some clarity to the situation.

PepsiCo is standing up for Richard Montañez after The LA Times story.

PepsiCo released a statement that defends Montañez and his famous story claiming to invent the recipe for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. For a week, the story of Montañez inventing Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was upended and doubt was cast on his rags-to-riches story. Latinos on social media were outraged that The LA Times spent a year working to discredit Montañez and his story.

In a statement, PepsiCo stood behind Montañez and called out media outlets for misconstruing the statements made by Frito-Lay.

“A great deal has been recently discussed about the origin of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos,” reads the statement from PepsiCo. “The information we shared with the media has been misconstrued by some, which resulted in confusion around where we stand, a range of emotions among our employees and consumers and a strain on our valued friendship with Richard Montañez and the Latino community.

The statement continued saying: “Far from being an urban legend, Richard had a remarkable 40-plus-year career at PepsiCo and made an incredible impact on our business and employees and continues to serve as an inspiration today. His insights and ideas on how to better serve Hispanic consumers were invaluable and directly resulted in the success of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. To be clear, we have no reason to doubt the stories he shares about taking the initiative to create new product ideas for the Cheetos brand, and pitching them to past PepsiCo leaders.”

Update May 20, 2021

A story in The Los Angeles Times challenged key elements of Richard Montañez’s story claiming he invented the famous Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The article caused an uproar after a reporter spoke with Frito-Lay and disputed Montañez’s rags-to-riches story. Now, the screenwriter of the upcoming film is defending the project.

The biopic about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is still happening.

Richard Montañez spent years building an empire on telling his story of inventing Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. An explosive exposé from The LA Times cast doubt on the origin story of one of the most famous snacks ever created.

Lewis Colick, the screenwriter for the upcoming biopic about the spicy snack, is standing by Montañez. The screenwriter admits to NBC News that there is no way to fact-check either side of the story. Yet, Colick still believes enough in the story.

“I think enough of the story is true,” Colick said. “The heart and soul and spirit of the story is true. He is a guy who should remain the face of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”

Eva Longira, the director of the film, is set to begin production this summer. Earlier this month, the movie finally found its leading cast members. Two weeks after the announcement, the movie is mired in controversy because of Frito-Lay going on record to dispute Montañez’s claim.


We’ve all heard the story several times that Richard Montañez was a janitor who invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It made him a household name in the Latino community and there is even a movie being done about his story. However, Frito-Lay now says it never happened.

Frito-Lay is officially denying that Richard Montañez invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

For years, Richard Montañez told the rags-to-riches story of how he created one of the most iconic snacks in the world: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The spicy snack has made millions of fingers red as people all over have come to love the famous treat. Yet, after years of making money off of this iconic story, the LA Times has found that it is not what it seems.

“None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,” Frito-Lay wrote in a statement to The LA Times. “We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved in any capacity in the test market.

The story has left Flamin’ Hot Cheetos fans shook.

Eva Longoria recently bought the rights to Montañez’s story of creating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and is set to direct a biopic based on the incredible moment. Now, with so much doubt on the origins of the famous snack, what is to come of this project and the upcoming memoir based on the story. Montañez did not participate in The LA Times’ story.

According to The LA Times, Fred Lindsay, a former salesman from Chicago, claims to have been the person who got Frito-Lay into the Flamin’ Hot game.

“The funny thing is, I heard maybe a year ago that some guy from California was taking credit for developing hot Cheetos, which is crazy,” Lindsay told The LA Times. “I’m not trying to take credit; I’m just trying to set the record straight.”

People are angry that The LA Times spent time investigating the origins of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Montañez responded to the claims from Frito-Lay in an article with Variety. While he is not disputing the claims, Montañez is sticking to his story without physical evidence that would support his claims. According to Montañez, he did not go through the more official channels when creating the recipe for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

“Frito-Lay had something called the method-improvement program, looking for ideas. That kind of inspired me, so I always had these ideas for different flavors and products,” Montañez told Variety. “The only difference in what I did, is I made the product, instead of just writing the idea on a piece of paper and sending it. They would forward over those products to the appropriate people and I didn’t know, because I was just a frontline worker.”

Montañez is not backing down from his claims that he did invent the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Montañez stands behind his story that he created the recipe for the spicy snack that is recognized around the world. Yet, he adds the caveat that he did not go through the proper channels, hence the lack of a paper trail.

“When we created our seasoning, it wasn’t at the plant. It was in my kitchen, in my garage. Then we sent it to headquarters,” Montañez told Variety. “When headquarters did a new product development, they sent a whole team. With me, they sent one scientist. By this time, they already had seasoning, because they’re not going to use something that made someone sick. We made 2,000 cases. We shipped it to the zones, to the warehouses where they were going to test market. By this time, they had pushed me out.”

As The LA Times story continues to circulate, people are more and more disappointed in the perceived takedown of a Latino role model.

There is a lot of anger from people in our community over the story. Montañez has been an influential and inspirational part of our community and the claims from Frito-Lay have stirred an emotional response from many Latinos on social media. Montañez told Variety that he is not concerned about Frito-Lay’s claims harming the chances of making the biopic about the creation.

READ: 23 Gifts For The Friend Who Always Has Hot Cheetos Fingers