The world is about to get a movie about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and it’s not as cheesy as it sounds.
According to Variety, Fox Searchlight just announced that it will be putting out a film called Flamin’ Hot, which will tell the real story of how Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were made.
Now, if this were some run-of-the-mill narrative of team meetings and product pitches, it would be pretty boring — but the story behind Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is a rags-to-riches tale about a janitor who invented the product by accident.
Who’s bringing the popcorn? A movie about the origins of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, called Flamin’ Hot, is in development
Rags to riches: It will tell the story of Richard Montanez, a Mexican immigrant who worked as a Frito-Lay janitor when he came up with idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
DeVon Franklin will produce the movie, which will be written by Lewis Colick and executive-produced by Samuel Rodriguez.
It will tell the story of Richard Montanez, who emigrated to Southern California from Mexico as a kid.
After dropping out of school due in part to his struggle to learn English, Montanez worked on a farm where he picked grapes before snagging a job as a janitor at the Frito-Lay Rancho Cucamonga plant in 1976.
One day, he was eating a cup of corn when he had an idea.
‘I see the corn man adding butter, cheese and chile to the corn and thought what if I add chile to a Cheeto?’ he told Fox News in 2012.
Movin’ on up! He is now no longer a janitor, but the head of multicultural sales and community promotions across PepsiCo’s North American divisions
He tried it at home first. He went into his mother’s kitchen, where he added spices to some regular Cheetos. When he tried the recipe out on friends, it was met with approval — so he made a bold call to get in touch with the president of Frito-Lay to pitch his idea.
While the move certainly showed a lot of chutzpah, Montanez had a history of taking advantage of opportunities. As a kid, he sold burritos to his non-Latino classmates at school for 25 cents each.
And the president of Frito-Lay had encouraged employees to take initiative. Montanez said once, in a company-wide video, the president had shared words that inspired him.
‘He told us to act like an owner, I looked around and didn’t see a lot of reaction from my co-workers, but for me it was the opportunity to do something different,’ he said.
Phew! Thankfully, the movie is not about mascot Chester Cheetah
One obstacle for the pitch meeting was that Montanez still spoke limited English. He spent two weeks preparing before meeting with executives, copying out a marketing strategy he found in a library book.
And the rest is history — and a soon-to-be movie. The president of the company loved the idea, and Frito-Lay began selling Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which is its best-selling snack.
Montanez was rewarded, too. He is now no longer a janitor, but the head of multicultural sales and community promotions across PepsiCo’s North American divisions. He has also contributed ideas to KFC and Taco Bell.
‘Many times, greatness will come in ridiculous forms, a ridiculous idea might be a billion dollar idea,’ he said.