“Flamin’ Hot” the movie defies expectations by taking viewers on a journey beyond the origins of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. This film, now available for streaming on Hulu and Disney+, delves into the life of a tenacious Latino man who shattered barriers and conquered corporate America during the vibrant ’80s.

Helmed by the talented director Eva Longoria (known for “Desperate Housewives),” “Flamin’ Hot” weaves an inspiring narrative that tells the story of Richard Montañez portrayed by Jesse Garcia. Far more than a mere snack invention tale, “Flamin’ Hot” presents a profound underdog story, capturing Montañez’s unwavering determination and resilience as he navigates a labyrinth of doubt and skepticism.

In fact, Flamin’ Hot and the story it tells is so extraordinary that it is easy to feel that this might be a work of fiction and not a true story. The following article will go into the parts of the movie is detail; differentiating the facts from the fiction for you. 

What is the movie ‘Flamin’ Hot’ about?

Flamin’ Hot, the movie unveils the journey of a spirited Mexican-American man named Richard Montañez, whose tale begins with him assuming the role of a janitor at Frito-Lay. Driven by a deep-rooted desire to provide for his beloved wife, Judy (Annie Gonzale)z, and their cherished sons, Montañez’s life took a turn when he created something remarkable.

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The film proceeds by telling how he played a pivotal role in the creation of Frito-Lay’s iconic Flamin’ Hot line of corn snacks. In this extraordinary version of the truth, Richard Montañez, driven by his passion and a deep desire to cater to the spicier tastes of Latino communities, takes matters into his own hands.

A Still from Flamin’ Hot (2023).

The film presents an inspiring narrative of Montañez’s unwavering determination as he devises his own unique flavoring for corn snacks. Fueled by his vision and entrepreneurial spirit, Montañez fearlessly pitches his revolutionary creation to none other than Roger Enrico, the chief executive of PepsiCo, the parent company of Frito-Lay.

Is the movie ‘Flamin’ Hot’ based on a true story? 

There’s no straight answer to this question. Based on Richard Montañez’s 2013 memoir “A Boy, A Burrito and A Cookie: From Janitor to Executive,” the film follows the incredible rise of a former gang member as he transforms his life, defies the odds, and becomes the mastermind behind the iconic invention of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

However, whatever is claimed in the memoir, and then the movie, is Montañez’s side of the truth. A 2021 investigation published by the LA Times discredits Montañez as their sole creator of the flavor. Frito-Lay’s statements says that,  “None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market.” They, however, add that “That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Richard, but the facts do not support the urban legend.”

Who is Richard Montañez?

In 1976, Montañez began his career as a janitor at Frito-Lay’s plant in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.  Through his dedicated effort, he slowly rose the rank and became a marketing executive. 

For 15 years,  he steadfastly claimed to be the mastermind behind the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, an idea he came up with in the early 1990s after making an astute observation that Frito-Lay lacked products specifically tailored to the Latino community. 

Richard Montañez at the premier of Flamin’ Hot.

If Montañez did not create the Cheetos, then who did? 

According to a report by the LA Times, it appears that Richard Montañez’s claims regarding the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were embellished. The report reveals that a team had been working on the development of the snack starting in 1989 in Plano, Texas. Other employees involved in the process recall drawing inspiration from corner stores in Chicago and Detroit.

In the report, it is claimed that  Lynne Greenfeld was actually tasked with developing the brand and came up with the name “Flamin’ Hot.” Additionally, a retired Frito-Lay salesman named Fred Lindsay asserts that he was the one who introduced the company to the Flamin’ Hot business. 

While the movie portrays Montañez as the originator of the idea, conducting recipe experiments, pitching it to then-CEO Roger Enrico of PepsiCo, and marketing it to the Latino community, there are suggestions in the film that the recipe was already being developed elsewhere in the Midwest.

Frito-Lay seemed to backtrack on their previous statements in a statement to USA TODAY in June. They now acknowledge that the film represents “Montañez’s story, told from his point of view.” They do highlight his contributions to Frito-Lay, particularly his insights and ideas for better serving Hispanic consumers and engaging the Hispanic community. 

Is ‘Flamin’ Hot,’ directed by Eva Longoria, available to stream on Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, or Prime Video? 

Yes! After its premiere at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival and a brief theatrical run on June 2nd, Flamin’ Hot was released as a Hulu Original Film on June 9th, 2023. If you have a Disney+ or Hulu subscription, you can now stream the movie for free. 

Read More: Flamin’ Hot (2023) Movie Review: These ‘Hot Cheetos’ got no flavour

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

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