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Hollywood Movie to Tell Story of Custodian Turned Snack Creator

September 4, 2019

The lives of custodians are typically not featured on the big screen. However, the latest news out of Hollywood is Eva Longoria will be directing a movie about Richard Montanez, a former janitor with Frito-Lay who created Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Collider reports.

Montanez is the son of a Mexican immigrant. He struggled to understand English growing up and dropped out of school at fourth grade, working odd jobs until he found a position as a custodian at Frito-Lay at the age of 18. He took pride in his work and spent time between shifts getting to know the company’s products. When sales slumped in the 80s, Frito-Lay’s CEO urged employees to act like an owner of the company to boast their morale. Montanez took this advice seriously.

Montanez was accompanying a Frito-Lay salesperson to a convenience store in a Latino neighborhood when he noticed all the company’s mildly flavored products were on the shelf next to several flavorful Mexican spices. Seizing an idea, Montanez found some Cheetos that hadn’t been dusted with cheese from the production facility and took them home, covering them in his own concoction of chili powder and other “secret” spices. When his friends and relatives enjoyed these spicy snacks, Montanez telephoned the CEO of Frito-Lay to pitch his new product and the rest is history.

Montanez is now the vice president of multicultural sales for PepsiCo America, the holding company of Frito-Lay. He credits his success to his drive for becoming the best employee he could be, and for following the CEO’s advice to act like an owner of the company, even though he was a custodian, a position some people consider lowly.

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