From Oscar Isaac memes to ice cream flavors, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have become an unquestionably influential American snack. But for all its notability, plenty of Flamin’ fans are in the dark about its humble origins. Hollywood has plans to change that, with Variety reporting a heated competition for production rights has resulted in a team-up between producer Devon Franklin (The Star, The Wait) and Fox Searchlight for a big screen story that will open the bag on the hot snack’s interesting—and inspirational—roots.
Currently titled Flamin’ Hot, the film will follow the rise of Richard Montanez, the Californian responsible for conceiving the spicy cheese flavor. Montanez’s rise from working-class man to influential executive is a story like much of the food industry from Panda Express to Dannon—an immigrant tale. Born the son of a Mexican immigrant and having grown up in the migrant farm worker community picking grapes in Southern California, Montanez eventually worked as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California during the 1970s.
Following a machine malfunction one day at the plant, the then maintenance worker took a bunch of powderless curls home and experimented with coating the snack in a chili powder commonly used on the Mexican street food elote. After sharing the flavorful creation with those around him, Montanez brought the winning combination to the attention of his supervisors and the Frito-Lay president, who gave Montanez a shot at (successfully) pitching his snack concept.
Flamin’ Hot’s fiery taste combination helped re-catapult the Frito-Lay brand to snack industry prominence while creating somewhat of a pop-cultural food phenomenon. It also earned Montanez the moniker Godfather of Multicultural Marketing and now a Hollywood adaptation.
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The script for this sure-to-be eye-watering cinematic experience will be penned by Lewis Colick (October Sky, Ladder 49), based on an initial pitch developed with Franklin and Montanez. It’s too early for a release date, but soon you could be catching the heart-warming story on the big screen while enjoying some Cheetos popcorn.