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Who Invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?

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Sep 20, 2021
Who Invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?

For two decades, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos has been one of the most popular snacks in America. In recent years its legend has grown, as word spread that they were invented by Richard Montañez, a Mexican-American janitor at Frito-Lay who went on to become a company executive. The story made Montañez something of a Latino icon, with two memoirs and a soon-to-be-released biopic based on his life. But when a journalist at the L.A. Times started looking into this feel-good story, he found a very different tale.    

Show Notes:

The man who didn’t invent Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (Sam Dean, L.A. Times)

What the anger over Flamin’ Hot Cheetos origin story is really about (Gustavo Arellano, L.A. Times)

Was the Times too hard on a Latino icon who exaggerated his role in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? (Letters To The Editor, L.A. Times)

For Latinos and the L.A. Times, a complicated past — and a promising future (Gustavo Arellano, L.A. Times)

This episode contains explicit language.

Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:

  • "Dance Hall" by Hans Erickson
  • "Silhouette" by Eric Anderson
  • "Hennepin" by James Buckley and Brian Bradley
  • "Like Fire" by Jacob Gossel
  • "Cortado" by Eric Anderson

Photo courtesy of Andres O'Hara.

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