The first trailer for Flamin’ Hot, a movie about the creation of the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, has been released. The film purports itself 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 turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into an iconic snack. There are disputes about the actual creation of the cheese puff variation, so this is one man’s story about how they came to be.
Most of the story is based around Montanez’s memoir, “A Boy, a Burrito and a Cookie: From Janitor to Executive”. The film started production back in 2019 and will be the directorial debut of Eva Longoria with DeVon Franklin producing under his Franklin Entertainment banner and Searchlight Pictures also producing with Lewis Colick and Linda Yvette Chávez co-screenwriting.
In his memoir, Montanez claimed that he had invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in the early 1990s observing that the brand did not have any products targeting Latinos. He also claimed he had pitched his idea to CEO Roger Enrico as part of Enrico’s initiative to empower employees to help the struggling company. However, corporate records had Lynne Greenfeld leading the project, which was introduced in test markets in the summer of 1990, alongside Flamin’ Hot versions of Fritos and Lays.
Greenfield has disagreed with Montanez’s version of the story, filing 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 capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market … we do not credit the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or any Flamin’ Hot products to him,” Frito-Lay said in the Los Angles Times.
Additional reporting by the Times indicated that Montanez’s claims also did not line up with other events in the product’s timeline. Per the company, 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 at South by Southwest on March 11, 2023, in advance of its streaming release on Hulu and Disney+ on June 9.
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