The first trailer for Flamin’ Hot, a film about the creation of the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, has been released. The film purports to be based on the “true story” of Richard Montanez (Jesse Garcia), the Frito-Lay janitor who channeled his Mexican-American heritage and upbringing to make Flamin’ Hot Cheetos an iconic snack. There are disputes over the actual creation of the cheese puff variation, so this is one man’s story of how they came to be.
Most of the story is based on Montanez’s memoir, “A Boy, a Donkey, and a Cookie: From Janitor to Executive.” The film began production in 2019 and will be the directorial debut of Eva Longoria with DeVon Franklin producing under her Franklin Entertainment banner and Searchlight Pictures also producing with Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette Chavez co-writing.
In his memoir, Montanez claimed that he invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in the early 1990s and noted that the brand did not have any products geared toward Latinos. He also claimed that he had pitched his idea to CEO Roger Enrico as part of Enrico’s initiative to train employees to help the struggling company. However, corporate records listed Lynne Greenfeld at the helm of the project, which was introduced to test markets in the summer of 1990, along with Flamin’ Hot versions of Fritos and Lays.
Greenfield disagreed with Montañez’s version of the story and filed a complaint that led to an internal investigation at Frito-Lay. The company sided with Greenfield. “None of our records show that Richard [Montanez] was involved in any way in the test market for Flamin’ Hot… we do not credit him for creating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or any Flamin’ Hot products,” Frito-Lay said in the Los Angeles Times.
Additional reports from the Times indicated that Montanez’s claims also did not line up with other events on the product’s timeline. According to the company, the test markets were announced before Enrico joined the company.
Along with Garcia, the film stars Annie Gonzalez, Dennis Haysbert, and Tony Shalhoub. Flamin’ Hot had its world premiere on South by Southwest on March 11, 2023, before its streaming release on Hulu and Disney+ on June 9.
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