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New Movie Tells the (Not) True Origin Story of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

New Movie Tells the (Not) True Origin Story of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Hulu and Disney+ have released the first trailer for the upcoming movie Flamin’ Hot, a biographical drama about the creator of the spicy snack, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

DeVon Franklin, known for his work on faith-based movies such as Miracles From Heaven and Breakthrough, served as the movie’s producer, while actress Eva Longoria makes her directorial debut with the inspirational film.

The movie tells the story of Richard Montañez, a Mexican immigrant who worked as a janitor at the Rancho Cucamonga Frito-Lay plant. It was there that Montañez came up with the idea to add chile powder to Cheetos, creating the popular Flamin’ Hot Cheetos we all know and love today. It’s a rags-to-riches story perfectly suited for Hollywood.

The problem is, after the movie was announced in 2019, Cheetos reached out to the producers to let them know the story wasn’t true. The film moved forward anyway.

L-R: Actress Annie Gonzalez, producer DeVon Franklin, director Eva Longoria, actor Jesse Garcia

Based on interviews with more than a dozen former Frito-Lay employees, the archival record and Frito-Lay itself, the Los Angeles Times found that Montañez’s story is totally false.

“None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,” Frito-Lay said in a statement. “We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved in any capacity. That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Richard, but the facts do not support the urban legend.”

Frito-Lay said the origin story is much simpler and far less inspirational: The idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos originated in 1989 at Frito-Lay’s headquarters in Plano, Texas, as a way to compete with spicy snacks sold in the Midwest. Lynne Greenfeld, a junior employee, came up with the Flamin’ Hot name and helped develop the product. And the rest was flamin’ hot history.

But nearly two decades after the chips’ invention, Montañez began claiming he came up with the idea. By then, most of the original Flamin’ Hot team had retired, and the few who remained let the story spread unchecked. That is, until Greenfeld contacted Frito-Lay in 2018 after discovering Montañez was taking credit for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The company investigated the claim and found out the truth.

“We value Richard’s many contributions to our company, especially his insights into Hispanic consumers, but we do not credit the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or any Flamin’ Hot products to him,” the company said.

Despite knowing the true origin story, the filmmakers of Flamin’ Hot pushed on with Montañez’s version of events. The trailer even calls it “inspired by a true story.”

“The heart and soul and spirit of the story is true,” said Lewis Colick, a screenwriter for the film. “He is a guy who should remain the face of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”

Hulu and Disney+ will drop their version of flamin’ hot events on June 9.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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