by Steven Doyle
Richard Montañez has become a cultural icon that transcends sociological and economic barriers. His invention is now firmly ingrained into pop culture and is the stuff chefs have embraced as a viable ingredient to attract new set of customers craving something very hot, very spicy. You see, Montañez invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto for Frito-Lay, located locally in Plano, Texas.
In his memoir, “A Boy, a Burrito, and a Cookie,” he described arriving at his white elementary school during segregation. His bus was green, while the white children rode a yellow bus. Speaking only Spanish, he couldn’t understand anyone.
He felt like an outsider, especially at lunchtime when he pulled out a burrito. In the 1960s, Mexican food wasn’t the popular staple in white communities it is now. The other kids, with their bologna sandwiches and cupcakes, stared on in confusion until he grew embarrassed and put it back in his bag.
He begged his mom to make him the same food as everyone else, but she refused. Instead, the next day, she made him two burritos for lunch and told him to make a friend.
By the end of the week, he was selling burritos to his white classmates for 25 cents each.
This book will soon become of film.
This billion dollar idea came about while Montañez was watching a street vendor prepare elotes, the delicious corn-on-the-cob treat layered in cheese, butter, lime and chile powder. Working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant in California decided to make a batch at home before finally pitching the idea to the Frito-Lay CEO. Working for Frito-Lay he now travels around the country, giving speeches on the importance of diversity in business.
The bagged snack has inspired many dishes ranging from a simple mac & cheese topping (excellent). The Bagel Nook in New Jersey recently introduced The Flamin’ Hot Cheeto Overload, a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos-flavored bagel stuffed with ghost pepper cream cheese and actual FHCs went viral within days of its debut.
We have seen many incarnations of a “sushi burrito” rolled in Flamin’ Hot Cheeto powder, and yes it is delicious.
Other dishes we have witnessed include Flamin’ Hot Pancakes, Rice Krispy Treats, macarons, scrambled eggs, pizza, stuffed in a Krispy Kreme donut, a grilled Cheeto sandwich and so much more.
Locally, OMG Taco in Plano uses Flamin’ Hot as an ingredient, as does Antojitos Jalisco’s in Oak and Lowkey Poke Joint in Addison. Henderson Tap House does the Flamin’ mac & cheese, and Sprinkles adds them to cupcakes.
Rapper Lil Xan was recently hospitalized after eating too many Cheetos. There have been other reports of the Cheeto in question putting people in the hospital including one woman who had her gall bladder removed after devouring four bags of the snack. Nationally doctors are seeing increased cases of gastritis due to the heat factor of the Cheeto. Some experts rank this Cheeto as 50,000 on the Scoville scale, making it as hot as cayenne pepper.
We recommend all things in moderation and keep your Flamin’ Hots to a minimum, but we do enjoy a Flamin’ Hot taco from Taco Bell late nights. But don’t tell anyone.