Flamin Hot (2023) Ending Explained – Did Richard really create Flamin Hot Cheetos?

Flamin Hot Plot Summary

The story centers on Richard Montañez, a down and out guy who’s had rotten luck his whole life. Struggling to fit in, and turning to a life of crime, Richard eventually turns his life around when he becomes a janitor at Frito Lay factory.

Whilst there, he slowly disrupts the food industry, saving the factory from ruin in the wake of an economic downturn. Channeling his Mexican heritage to help create Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, he singlehandedly saves the company and turns the savory snack into an iconic global brand. It’s your typical rags to riches story, complete with all the bells and whistles that go with that.

What happens after Richard’s successful pitch to Enrico?

Richard pitches the idea for his spicy hot snacks to the boss of Frito Lay, who decides to give it a shot. The company are not doing well, given the current economic climate, and everyone is left twiddling their thumbs hoping for the best.

Despite getting the product on the market and convincing Enrico, Richard starts to doubt himself. Clarence though gives him a pep talk and reassures Richard that he he should find a way to get it done and keep the spicy Cheetos going. So why is the product not moving?

Richard stalls on phoning Enrico but his kids believe, while talking that night, that commercials may be the way to go. And in fact, his son has saved enough pocket money to pay for it. Richard is touched by his son’s gesture but doesn’t take it. He does, however, call on the efforts of Tony and his crew to do some guerilla marketing and help move product.

Bringing them into the factory, Richard reveals to the entire warehouse that corporate are sabotaging the product and letting it die. Why? Well, because they’re corporates. Despite the company hanging on by a shred and needing to make money, the suit in charge is just letting it die because he doesn’t want to be wrong.

Well, Richard is having none of that and gives a rousing pep-talk to everyone in the warehouse. He decides they should rally together to save their jobs and get this product moving. Everything that hasn’t moved already, Richard decides they’re personally going to move and sell themselves. Clarence backs him up and everyone pulls together, including the factory manager too, to load up boxes and clear house.

Does Richard’s plan work?

Thanks to their hustle, the group manage to move a lot more product than those executives, who get the sales report back and learn that Southern California has completely blown up. They love the Flamin Hot snacks! Everyone in the factory gets to keep their job and the product starts moving. Enrico rings Richard and decides they need 5 million more boxes to start moving this out, pronto. All lines are filled with spicy cheetos and it’s all systems go!

As a result of all this, Clarence makes Plant Manager in Bakersfield. As for Enrico, he’ll have to hold fire on his desire to become a machine operator. He meets with Enrico outside the executive offices and reveals a new plaque for the front of the door.

How does Flamin Hot end?

Enrico admits that he loves Richard’s story and sees the potential in him as a visionary. Enrico decides he’s going to invest in Richard and encourages him to become part of the team. Specifically, as a Director of Multicultural Marketing. Everyone is super happy, as Richard makes it to the big time. While at his new desk, he rings Judie and tells her about the big promotion.

“We all write our own stories, we create our own destinies,” Richard says, as we cut forward in time. “You think I was gonna let someone else steal mine? Nah. Never!”

As the movie ends, we learn that Richard was known as “the godfather” of Latino marketing, becoming a top executive at Pepsico/Frito Lay. In 2019, Richard retired after 42 years of innovation and leadership. Richard and Judy raised 3 sons together, and the pair have been going strong for 48 years.

Did Richard really create Flamin Hot Cheetos?

No. Although the story has a heartwarming message at the end, the story of Richard Montañez creating Flamin Hot Cheetos has been debunked a while back. An investigation by The Times, discovered that Montañez’s story he’d been telling since the late 2000’s of how he invented these Cheetos was a lie.

Within the article it states: “more than a dozen former employees, the archival record, and Frito-Lay itself” have stated that Montañez did not create the wildly popular snack. “None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,” Frito-Lay told the The Times. “We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved in any capacity in the test market.”

So while Richard did do well to rise up the ranks of Frito-Lay, climbing the corporate ladder from janitor to a director focused on Hispanic marketing, he did not create Flamin Hot Cheetos.

There’s actually a really good article over at HistoryVSHollywood that breaks down the entire story in a lot more detail. Feel free to check that out as it’s a great read.


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