Usually when a film says “inspired by a true story,” you take it with a grain of salt. Hollywood loves to make things more dramatic, but that doesn’t mean that the very premise of the film is a lie; it just means it probably didn’t happen exactly that way. However, in the case of the movie Flamin’ Hot, the entire thing is basically a lie and the filmmakers knew this and went ahead and made the movie anyway, so now we have a trailer for what looks like a somewhat entertaining piece of fiction parading around as a true story.
Flamin’ Hot, which is directed by Eva Longoria, tells the story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), the man who has for decades claimed that he invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto for Frito-Lay when he was a janitor and turned into a marketing sensation for the company. As you can see in the Flamin’ Hot trailer, it’s a basic rags-to-riches story about a man with a belief in himself and the corporate bigwigs who try to keep him down. The end result, of course, is one of the most popular chips ever made. It’s a truly inspirational story with a wonderful Hispanic hero… and it appears to be mostly made up.
According to reporting by the LA Times, Montañez was indeed a janitor who worked his way up the chain at Frito-Lay, but he had little to nothing to do with the creation of Flamin’ Hot chips back in the ’90s. The creation of the chip, it turns out, was actually down to a team of dedicated and talented snack makers and was led by a woman named Lynne Greenfeld, who reportedly did the leg work and research to make the end result. Flamin’ Hot chips were on the market and created at least a year before Montañez claimed to have invented them, and the Times has an extensive paper trail to prove it, with very little proof out there to support Montañez’s version of the story. Not to mention Frito-Lay itself saying that the story is untrue.
Still, Eva Longoria and screenwriter Lewis Colick seem to not care so much about that, with Colick even telling Variety, “The heart and soul and spirit of the story is true. He is a guy who should remain the face of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”
We don’t know what the actual Flamin’ Hot movie will have in it, but looking at the trailer it seems to be crammed full of moments that never actually happened. It’s all a bit of a shame because Montañez is a fantastic minority success story in his own right with the Flamin’ Hot fabrication. The guy really did work his way up from the floor to the high levels of Frito-Lay marketing, and that’s pretty impressive in general.
The mostly untrue story of Flamin’ Hot will release on Hulu and Disney+ on June 9.