Is Flamin Hot a True Story?

Logo The New York TimesThe New York Times
2023-06-09 19:09:33  • 6 mins

Richard Montaez, a janitor turned Frito-Lay executive, has said he invented the spicy snack. A new film tells his story, but the evidence isnt on his side.

It is almost certainly a fact that Richard Montaez did not invent Flamin Hot Cheetos.

That revelation, which came to light as part of a 2021 Los Angeles Times investigation, arrived at a rather inconvenient time, considering a biopic based on Montaezs inspirational 2013 memoir, A Boy, a Burrito, and a Cookie: From Janitor to Executive, in which he claims to have invented the spicy snack, was already in development.

But the Times article wasnt a death knell for the film in fact, far from it.

We never set out to tell the history of the Cheeto, Eva Longoria, who is making her feature directorial debut with Flamin Hot, told The Los Angeles Times in March, shortly before the films premiere at South by Southwest. We are telling Richard Montaezs story and were telling his truth.

So, the filmmakers forged ahead, and Flamin Hot, which bills itself as a true story, will begin streaming on Disney+ and Hulu on Friday. The film follows Montaez (Jesse Garcia) through his early days as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant in California, where he eventually makes a pivotal phone call to Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub), the chief executive of the Frito-Lay parent company PepsiCo, to pitch an idea for a tasty corn puff. That sets him on a path to becoming a multicultural marketing executive at PepsiCo.

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