Northeastern Illinois University announced Richard P. Montanez, the founder of the Flamin’ Hot line of snack products, as the guest speaker for the 2020 Daniel L. Goodwin Distinguished Lecture Series speaker. Montanez will deliver his speech, titled “One Revelation Will Lead to a Revolution” on Feb. 17.
Montanez leads the Multicultural Sales & Marketing across Pepsi North American divisions, earning the PepsiCo Chairman Award four times. He tours universities as a motivational speaker and best-selling author for his memoir “A Boy, A Burrito, and a Cookie”.
Montanez is the subject of an upcoming Eva Longoria-directed film titled “Flamin’ Hot,” which chronicles Montanez’ rise from janitor to PepsiCo executive after developing the recipe that reinvented the Cheetos brand. Since its inception, Flamin’ Hot products have become a cultural phenomenon, with social media users sharing novel ways to use the recipe on traditional dishes.
As a child, Montanez grew up in the impoverished East Los Angeles community of Guasti, a town known for its farming demographic. The son of a Mexican immigrant, Montanez endured financial hardships, sharing a one-room, cinder block home in a migrant camp with 14 other relatives.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Montanez said, “I have a PhD in being poor, hungry and determined.”
Montanez’ breakthrough invention came by chance. A broken machine manufactured cheeseless Cheetos, which Montanez brought home and dusted with Chili powder. After sampling the recipe with his family, Montanez pitched the idea to Pepsi CEO Roger Erico.
Attendance to the event is free, though seating is limited. Students, employees and alumni can obtain tickets at neiu.edu/tickets or in-person through the Welcome Desk and Box Office or by calling (773) 442-4637. Tickets were made available to the public on Jan. 26.