Is ‘Flamin’ Hot’ a True Story?

It’s an almost certain fact that Richard Montañez didn’t invent the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

That fact revealed as part of the 2021 event Los Angeles Times SurveyConsidering that a biopic based on the touching 2013 memoir Boy, Burrito, Cookie: From Janitor to Executive, in which Montañez claims he invented the spicy snack, was already in development. The film arrived at a rather inconvenient time. .

But the Times article didn’t herald the death of the film — it was far from it, in fact.

“We weren’t trying to tell a history of cheats,” says Eva Longoria, who is making her feature directorial debut with “Flamin’ Hot.” told the Los Angeles Times in March, just before the film premiere at South by Southwest. “We are telling the story of Richard Montañez, and we are telling his truth.”

So the filmmakers continued to move forward,flamin hotThe “true story” will premiere on Disney+ and Hulu on Friday. The film depicts Montañez’s (Jesse Garcia) early days working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay factory in California, where he eventually meets Roger Enrico (Jesse Garcia), the CEO of Frito-Lay’s parent company. Tony Shalhoub) make an important call. PepsiCo touts the idea of ​​delicious corn puffs. This puts him on the path to become PepsiCo’s Director of Multicultural Marketing.

Here’s how the Spicy Cheats story unraveled and what parts of it unraveled. that is Actually the truth (there are some!) and what the real Montañez said about this controversy.

Who is Richard Montañez?

Montañez began his career at Frito-Lay in 1976 when he was hired as a cleaner at the company’s plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He went through his promotions, eventually becoming a marketing executive.

For nearly 15 years, he has claimed that he came up with the idea for “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos” in the early 1990s when he realized Frito-Lay didn’t have a product for Latinos.

bottom Did he invent the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?

The Los Angeles Times investigation, based on interviews with more than a dozen former Frito-Lay employees, company records, and some apparent inconsistencies in his story, is improbable that he didn’t. concluded that

For example, Montañez, now in his 60s, became CEO of PepsiCo after watching a motivational video recorded by Enrico as part of a campaign to encourage Frito-Lay employees to “take action.” He often recounts how he made the call to pitch his idea. like the owner. “

The Times found that there was only one problem. Enrico took over the company in early 1991. So it was almost six months after the Flamin’ Hot product had already hit the test market.

That’s no, right?

Well, Montañez invented something at Frito-Lay. But it wasn’t Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. According to records from 1993 US News & World Report According to the article, Montañez promoted Flamin’ Hot Popcorn, which debuted in March 1994 as an extension of the Flamin’ Hot line.

Robert Szeuchinski, who worked as an outside consultant in the test market for Sublocitas, a new line of products aimed at Latinos in Los Angeles in 1994, also told The Times that Montañez was heavily involved in its development. .

What did the Frito Lay say?

Frito-Lay conducted an internal investigation after former employee Lynn Greenfeld contacted the company in 2018 to challenge Montañez’s allegations. no evidence found Montañez played a role in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. However, the company noted that part of his story about his promotion from janitor to marketing director was accurate.

A PepsiCo spokesperson paid tribute to Montañez’s contribution. second statement While it did not dispute the facts of the Times’ investigation, “his insights and ideas on how to better serve Hispanic consumers were invaluable and directly contributed to the success of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.” ‘ said.

Who Invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?

The company told the Los Angeles Times that records show the snack was developed in 1989 by a group of scientists and marketing executives at Frito-Lay’s headquarters in Plano, Texas. Frito-Lay said Greenfeld, then a junior employee, was put in charge of brand development and came up with the name “Flamin’ Hot.”

What did Montañez say?

He sticks to his own version of the story.

One of his allegations is that he was in a very low-level job, and that his efforts were so poorly documented. For time series discrepancies, told Variety in 2021 He didn’t know what was going on in the rest of the company.

“I’m not going to challenge the woman either, because I don’t know,” he told Variety of Greenfeld. “All I can say is what I did.”

Does this movie acknowledge the controversy?

no. The epilogue doesn’t mention the Los Angeles Times investigation or its failure to confirm Montañez’s involvement in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which Frito-Lay warned filmmakers about in 2019. Characterized as a “true story”.

The film mentions that a group of Frito-Lay executives were simultaneously working on developing spicy chips at a Midwest factory, but the plot is never pursued.

Was Montañez selling drugs before joining Frito-Lay?

yes. In his 2013 memoir, he chronicles his life spent as a gang member in East Los Angeles in his youth.

Did Montañez lie about having a high school diploma on his Frito-Lay application?

The film’s narration portrays him as uneducated, and tense scenes show him struggling with his application. It’s unclear whether Montañez, who dropped out of high school sometime before his sophomore year, lied about the qualifications he didn’t have, or simply persuaded Frito-Lay that he didn’t have one.

Was the plant engineer Clarence Baker, whom Montañez befriends in the film, based on a real person?

Yes, according to a spokesperson for Searchlight Pictures, the film’s distributor. The character, played by Dennis Haysbert, was inspired by an employee at the factory where Montañez worked. This engineer died a few years ago and his name was changed for the film.

Was Frito-Lay resistant to Montañez’ promotion?

Although the company’s opposition to his promotion is central to the plot of Flamin’ Hot, Frito-Lay records show that in real life Montañez was promoted to machinist operator within a year of joining the company.

Was Frito-Lay going to remove Flamin’ Hot Cheetos from its shelves ahead of a grassroots marketing campaign led by Montañez?

no. In Mr. Montañez’s latest memoir, “Flamin’ Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man’s Rise from Janitor to Top Executive,” he writes to raise awareness for the Flaymin’ Hot Cheetos. He recounts having local women host a Tupperware party. He wrote that he initially struggled to gain traction in the Southern California test market. Consultant Szeuczynski told the Los Angeles Times that if he’s talking about his involvement with Sublocitus rather than Montañez and Cheetos, that account is accurate.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button