Eva Longoria’s feature directorial debut Flamin’ Hot is based on Richard Montañez’s claim that he invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. But is this origin story true?
Flamin’ Hot revolves around Richard Montañez, a janitor at Frito Lay who utilized his Mexican American background and upbringing to transform Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a snack that caused a stir in the food industry and gained worldwide recognition. Richard Montañez’s inspiring journey from humble beginnings to remarkable success captured the attention of Eva Longoria, who turned his story into a film for her directorial debut.
The film is based on the memoirs of Richard Montañez, entitled “A Boy, a Burrito, and a Cookie” and “Flamin’ Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man’s Rise from Janitor to Top Executive“. These books chronicle Montañez’s journey to the top by creating Flamin’ Hot snacks that would resonate with Hispanic consumers. Montañez devoted over four decades of his life to Frito-Lay before retiring in 2019 and also pursued motivational speaking as a side profession. However, it’s worth noting that there is some uncertainty surrounding the authenticity of his rags-to-riches tale.
The inspiring story of Richard Montañez has resonated with the Hispanic community, but individuals familiar with the development of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos assert that he did not play a role in its creation. Despite learning of the dispute in 2019, Longoria, producer DeVon Franklin and production company Searchlight Pictures continued with the film, which will land on Hulu on June 9.
“None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,” Frito-Lay wrote in a statement to the L.A. Times. “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 in the test market.”
Flamin’ Hot begins streaming on June 9th only on Hulu.