With a new biopic being developed, Frito-Lay is now claiming that the origin story of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos that we all thought to be true, isn’t exactly what it seems. However, it doesn’t seem to be stopping the upcoming biopic anytime soon. Eva Longoria’s upcoming project Flamin Hot is about the inventor we all believed to be the man behind the creation of the famous spicy Cheetos snack. Was this inspiring, feel-good, rags-to-riches story based on a lie the entire time?
Back in 1992, a former Frito-Lay janitor named Richard Montañez made his way from being a janitor in a Frito-Lay plant located in Rancho Cucamonga, to an executive by pitching his infamous idea for Flamin Hot Cheetos. According to a statement made by Frito-Lay, the company had claimed that Richard Montañez had no part in the development of the spicy snack.
“None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,” Frito-Lay had also told the L.A. Times that they were not able to obtain any proof or documentation that Montañez was involved. “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.” It was believed that Montañez took inspiration from his Mexican American heritage to invent Flamin Hot Cheetos.
Earlier this month, Eva Longoria had found her lead cast for her upcoming Searchlight project with actors Jessie Garcia and Annie Gonzalez. Garcia is set to play Montañez, while Gonzalez is cast to play his wife, Judy. Eva Longoria had said that “my biggest priority to make sure we are telling Richard Montañez’s story authentically. I am so happy to have two extremely talented and fellow Mexican Americans on board in these pivotal roles. Jesse and Annie have a deep understanding of our community and will be able to help tell this story of great importance for our culture.”
Although this origin story may not be what Longoria had hoped, her upcoming biopic is still on track to begin filming this summer in New Mexico with Eva Longoria directing.
According to Frito-Lay and the L.A. Times, the true inventors of Flamin Hot Cheetos happen to be more than one person. Fred Lindsey, a Chicago salesman had noticed the increase in spicy snack sales, wanted Frito-Lay to be involved in the uprising trend. A product manager named Sharon Owens took up the development of the spicy snack. Lynne Greenfield had came up with the name, flavor, packaging ideas. Flamin Hot Cheetos had hit the test market back in 1990, which was two years before Montañez said he had made his pitch to the company in 1992.
Screenwriter Lewis Colick, who is behind the script for Flamin’ Hot, is now defending Eva Longoria’s movie against claims that the origin story of the spicy snack is fake. He has this to say about the authenticity behind the story being sold to the masses.
“I think enough of the story is true. The heart and soul and spirit of the story is true. He is a guy who should remain the face of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The more you talk to Richard, the more you realize this is an extraordinary guy who went through a lot. He’s not just a janitor who had a brainstorm.”
Colic goes onto say that The L.A. Times isn’t being fair, calling their piece on Montanez, “a hit job on a really fine upstanding individual who’s an inspiration to the Latino community for justifiable reasons. Did Richard embellish a little bit? Was his memory faulty here or there? Who knows? The truth is the product.” Montañez himself has also come out in his own defense.
“All I can tell you is what I did. All I have is my history, what I did in my kitchen.”
The L.A. Times had made a request for Montañez to respond to them personally, but Montañez refused to do so. His social media has also not been updated for quite some time now. So when it comes down to thanking the inventor of Flamin Hot Cheetos, who do we exactly thank? Who’s side of the story should we believe? Searchlight has not yet set an release date for the upcoming biopic, and neither the actors nor producers of the upcoming film have responded to the recent claims as of yet.