Is Flamin’ Sizzling a True Story?

FLAMIN' HOT, from left: Jesse Garcia Dennis Haysbert, 2023. ph: Anna Kooris /  Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Hulu’s new comedy movie “Flamin’ Sizzling” payments itself because the story behind the invention of one of the recognizable snacks on the earth: Flamin’ Sizzling Cheetos. At first look, it has all of the hallmarks of a “primarily based on a real story” story: a unusual concept that results in an unlikely, made-for-the-movies rise from obscurity and a charismatic and decided hero on the middle of all of it. In actuality, although, there’s much less fact to the film than you may count on.

Who Is Richard Montañez?

“Flamin’ Sizzling” relies on a memoir, “A Boy, a Burrito and a Cookie: From Janitor to Govt,” by Richard Montañez. Montañez grew up in a working-class Mexican-American household in California, and he dropped out of faculty to work. He was finally employed as a janitor at Frito-Lay, which is the place his story supposedly actually begins.

In his e-book, Montañez describes how an obvious machine error led him to create an iconic snack. In line with his model of occasions, a machine broke down within the Cheetos line, leading to a batch not getting dusted with the signature orange tacky powder. Montañez writes that he took the “plain” Cheetos residence and dusted them with chili powder as an alternative, impressed by a avenue vendor in his neighborhood who bought Mexican avenue corn with lime and chili powder.

When his family and friends favored the style of the brand new product, Montañez got down to pitch it to the CEO of Frito-Lay, Roger Enrico. Round that point, Enrico had despatched out a video “telling all staff he wished them to take possession of the corporate,” in response to CNBC, and Montañez writes, “I known as him up, not understanding you were not purported to name the CEO.” Securing a gathering, Montañez pitched the product, and the remainder was supposedly historical past. Flamin’ Sizzling Cheetos turned a phenomenon, and Montañez climbed the company ladder, finally touchdown an government place at PepsiCo and constructing a profession as a speaker off of his rags-to-riches story.

In 2018, Fox Searchlight introduced they’d be producing a film primarily based on his life story. It appeared just like the American Dream.

Or, a minimum of, till a number of years in the past.

Did Richard Montañez Invent Flamin’ Sizzling Cheetos?

In 2021, the Los Angeles Instances printed an investigative report that appeared to debunk Montañez’s claims.

“None of our information present that Richard was concerned in any capability within the Flamin’ Sizzling check market,” Frito-Lay wrote in a press release to The Instances, printed as a part of the in-depth investigation. “We have now interviewed a number of personnel who have been concerned within the check market, and all of them point out that Richard was not concerned in any capability within the check market.. . . We worth Richard’s many contributions to our firm, particularly his insights into Hispanic shoppers, however we don’t credit score the creation of Flamin’ Sizzling Cheetos or any Flamin’ Sizzling merchandise to him.”

In line with the Instances article, Flamin’ Sizzling Cheetos have been developed in 1989 by means of a reasonably mundane course of, born out of the necessity to compete with different manufacturers that supplied spicy snacks. Montañez did begin on the firm as a janitor, and he did pitch product concepts and finally ascended to a director-level function in advertising, however an inner Frito-Lay investigation, in addition to the accounts of many related staff across the identical time, revealed that Montañez’s story of inventing Flamin’ Sizzling Cheetos was not correct. Actually, the “spicy snacks” venture was first assigned to Lynne Greenfeld, a junior worker and new MBA grad who labored with a number of others to develop the merchandise.

When the information broke in 2021, properly after the “Flamin’ Sizzling” film was in manufacturing, the film’s artistic workforce insisted that it was nonetheless a narrative price telling.

“Did Richard embellish just a little bit? Was his reminiscence defective right here or there? Who is aware of,” screenwriter Lewis Colick informed Selection. “The reality is the product.. . . I believe sufficient of the story is true. The center and soul and spirit of the story is true. He’s a man who ought to stay the face of Flamin’ Sizzling Cheetos.”

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