Texas’ Eva Longoria highlights Hispanic marketing hero, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in new film

Some claim Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were developed at Frito-Lay headquarters in Plano, but former California janitor Richard Montañez takes credit.

The film version of how a spicy Cheetos variation was born, called Flamin’ Hot, is set to debut on Disney+ and Hulu on June 9, rehashing the often-disputed invention of the Frito-Lay snack food.

The film covers the underdog story of Richard Montañez, a California janitor who rose through the ranks of Plano-based Frito-Lay. In his 2021 memoir, Flamin’ Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man’s Rise from Janitor to Top Executive, he claimed he invented Cheetos to appeal to Hispanic consumers. The book was the basis for the film.

But for years, the official line from Frito-Lay was that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were developed at its Plano headquarters, not in California and not by Montañez, who ascended from janitor to an executive position in marketing at the snack food company. He’s been dubbed “the godfather of Hispanic marketing.”

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The food manufacturer owned by PepsiCo even disputed Montañez’s story when questioned by the Los Angeles Times as part of an expose on the real story behind the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos claims.

Frito-Lay and parent company did an about-face and now the official line from Frito-Lay is that “he did important work launching our Hispanic Business Unit and played a key role in accelerating the growth of our Flamin’ Hot Brand and other brands particularly through his Hispanic marketing efforts — efforts that helped grow our business and support our communities, especially in Los Angeles.”


Montañez, who left Frito-Lay in 2019, is a popular motivational speaker because of his custodian to C-suite story.

Either way, the controversy doesn’t appear to play much of a role in the film, debuting on the Hulu and Disney+ streaming services next month. Corpus Christi-born actress Eva Longoria picked up the film after she said she was inspired by Montañez’s story and “story of a Mexican-American — one that hadn’t been told before.”


The film was shot neither in California, where Montañez worked, nor in Plano, where Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were supposedly developed. Instead, it was filmed in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2021, according to Searchlight Pictures. It stars Jesse Garcia. Monk and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel actor Tony Shalhoub plays a role in the film along with Dennis Haysbert.

Flamin’ Hot also features actress Vanessa Martinez, who plays “Concha Montañez,” presumably Richard’s mother. Martinez got her acting start as a child in Dallas, according to Searchlight.

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