This Biopic Will Chronicle the Life of the Mexican Janitor Who Invented Hot Cheetos

Lead Photo: Art by Alan Lopez for Remezcla
Art by Alan Lopez for Remezcla
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Everything is grist for a film in Hollywood, from toys to board games and, now, food. Have you ever wanted to hear the story about how Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were invented? Well, Fox Searchlight has you covered – in Cheeto dust, no doubt – as they’ve recently purchased the script Flamin’ Hot, covering the life of Richard Montañez, creator of the famously red Cheetos.

Penned by Lewis Colick in what was said to be a competitive bidding war, Flamin’ Hot will detail Montañez’s rags-to-riches story and his creation of the food that everyone seems to love. Regardless of how silly the whole affair sounds, Richard Montañez is a fascinating figure.

Having grown up in the small town of Gausti near Ontario, California, the Mexican native helped support his family by picking grapes as a young man. After having difficulty with the English language, Montañez dropped out of high school and took a job as a janitor at the Frito-Lay Corporation in 1976. While working in their Rancho Cucamonga plant he came up with the million-dollar idea after being inspired by the Frito-Lay president’s message to “act like an owner.”

Montañez happened to find some Cheetos that hadn’t been dusted with the company’s legendary orange powder and decided to take some home. Inspired by the Mexican street corn, elote, Montañez wondered, “I see the corn man adding butter, cheese and chili to the corn and thought, what if I add chili to the Cheeto?” Urged on by friends to present his idea to Frito-Lay, Montañez took his invention to the president of the company. With nothing but a book from the library on business techniques and a $3 tie, Montañez took his idea to the company’s executives where it was approved. Today, the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto is the company’s top-seller and Montañez works as a marketing executive.

The script was written in collaboration with Montañez so here’s hoping it actually shows the struggles he had trying to learn and be taken seriously by the Frito-Lay executives. Here’s hoping the movie theaters stock up on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in anticipation of this film’s debut.