The story behind a favorite hot snack is being turned into a serious feature-length film – and it sounds pretty good.

A biopic detailing the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, cheesy Cheeto’s spicier sibling, has been greenlit after a “highly competitive sale, with multiple studios vying for the project,” Variety reported. Fox Searchlight and DeVon Franklin are set to produce the film, “Flamin’ Hot,” which depicts the true-life – and accidental – rags-to-riches story that started a billion-dollar snack flavor.


Robert Montañez, the person responsible for the chip, was a Mexican-born janitor working at the Frito-Lay’s Rancho Cucamonga plant in 1976. According to Fox News Latino, Montañez immigrated to California as a child, dropped out of high school and worked as a farm hand on SoCal farms before ending up at Frito-Lay, where a plant mess-up changed his life.

A problem on a production line left a batch of Cheetos without cheese dust one day, according to GrubStreet. Not wanting the food to go to waste, Montañez took them home and decided to spice them up a bit.

Working off of a favorite Mexican street food, elotes, which is grilled corn smothered in salt, lime juice, chile powder, and typically mayonnaise and cotija cheese, Montañez decided to create the same flavor profile and coat the bare Cheetos in it.

elote istock

Robert Montañez, the inventor of the chip, said his idea behind the flavor was from elote -- a popular Mexican street food that involves grilled corn slathered in lime juice, chile powder, salt and usually mayonnaise and cotija cheese. (iStock)

“I see the corn man adding butter, cheese, and chile to the corn,” he told Fox, “and thought, what if I add chile to a Cheeto?”

His creation was a success and started a buzz so strong that it landed him a meeting with the Frito-Lay’s president, who asked him to work up a presentation for the company executives in two weeks.


Montañez, who struggled to learn English, told Fox he copied a marketing strategy from a book he found at the library for his presentation.

“I’m a little bit of an artist so I even designed the bags and put the Cheetos in it,” Montañez told Fox.

The executives liked the idea and started making Flamin’ Hot Cheetos – which became Frito-Lay’s highest-selling snack.

The story has an even happier ending – after Montañez’s billion-dollar idea, he was promoted and now is executive vice-president of multicultural sales at PepsiCo.

“Many times, greatness will come in ridiculous forms, a ridiculous idea might be a billion dollar idea,” he told Fox.