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Hope all is well. I watched a movie a couple of days ago. It’s called ‘Flamin’ Hot.’ It’s the story about a guy with an idea that saved jobs and fueled innovation. Please subscribe to never miss a post!
Flamin’ Hot review
Are you a fan of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? I’ll be honest with you. Cheetos are my least favourite chips. We are here to talk about the film he produced called Flamin’ Hot and how it can inspire you as it has inspired me.
I watched Devon Franklin on The Breakfast Club last week on YouTube. If you’re unfamiliar, he is an American television and film producer. His most well-known claim to fame is that he was married to the actress Meagan Good from (2012-2022.) I won’t lie; I was devastated to learn that she had wed. Since I was a teenager, she has been my number one Hollywood crush. But that’s not why we’re here, to talk about them. Last week, Devon was promoting his most recent film on The Breakfast Club. Watch it right here.
It was fantastic to see him decide to give the Latino community a voice. This is the result of Black and Brown coming together.
In his interview with TBC, Devon stated that he was seeking a director and actors. As Eva entered, he assumed she was vying for a part in the movie. She wanted to direct the movie; it turned out. Eva Longoria has a master’s degree in Chicano Studies in 2013 and a degree in kinesiology. She possesses both intelligence and beauty and it’s a bonus that she’s Chicana. Let’s go on to the main discussion of this blog. We’re here to chat about the Flamin’ Hot movie’s lead character. Richard Montañez.
Early in Richard Montanez’s life, he was a cholo (gangster), hustling on the streets. All of that was cool for him, until his girl got pregnant. It’s always amazing to see when a man is willing to step up his game for his family. What I immediately noticed in the film is the racism towards Latinos. Racists have no mercy, even towards children. In the film when an old white guy made a comment about Mexicans saying something along the lines of “women producing wetbacks like crazy.” It’s amazing how cruel people can be towards others. Racism is a taught behaviour.
A part in the film that was funny to watch was when Richard was trying to learn about the process of how Cheetos were made. He was asking a machine operator how things worked. The machine operator made a comment about him getting back to mopping the floor. It’s crazy how people can work in the same building, but others feel like they’re better than others simply because of rank. What stood out for me was a daydream he had about beating up the machine operator with his mop. But then, Richard snapped back to reality and realized he needed to keep his gangsta in check. That was one of the hardest things for me to learn when I transitioned from thinking like an impulsive youth to realizing that in the real world, you can’t just go around beating up or cussing at people who disrespect you.
In a cafeteria scene, Richard and his co-workers are eating tacos and sharing amongst themselves. How many times have we been at work, and we see people of other cultures eating their traditional foods? Have we judged when we’ve seen them eating with their hands? Something I remember seeing at a job I worked at was a person eating rice with their hands. They were being judged because of it by co-workers making comments about it such as “It’s dirty, its savage.” I mean, we eat sandwiches, pizza, Ice cream cones with our hands. Why is it strange that people eat other types of food that aren’t traditionally eaten a certain way by us on this side of the world? That’s a conversation for another time.
The importance of networking is so important especially in this story. No one is born knowing everything. Richard got into the good graces of the Allstate guy (Dennis Haysbert) who plays the role of a machine operator who was even more knowledgeable than anyone else in the facility. Richard knew, that was the guy he needed to get to know. Richard would go into work before his shift started and left way after his shift ended because that was the only time, he had to be able to learn how the machines worked. The Reagan era of government was one of the worse times for Latinos. Both in the USA and in Latin America. Due to the economy collapsing, Richard was able to help a lot more at the company by also helping out stocking shelves at the grocery store along with the Frito Lay rep.
Not much was really said about the character portrayed by Dennis Haysbert called Clarence C. Baker. I did find this about him: “Sadly, Clarence C. Baker’s real-life counterpart is no longer alive. When confirming that he was based on a real engineer, Searchlight Pictures also confirmed that the engineer died a few years ago. This is a sad end to the story of Clarence C. Baker’s real-life counterpart, although it’s good that he was given some time in the spotlight in Flamin’ Hot.
While his death is tragic, it’s nice to know that the legacy of Clarence C. Baker’s real-life counterpart will forever live on in Flamin’ Hot. Although the identity of this engineer still isn’t publicly known, his story has become a massive story as part of Flamin’ Hot. Dennis Haysbert gave a fantastic and respectful performance in Flamin’ Hot that hopefully lives up to Clarence C. Baker’s real-life counterpart.” – Flamin’ Hot: What Happened To The Real Clarence C. Baker (screenrant.com)
Richard noticed that none of the current chips were selling. The rep said it was probably due to the store being in a Brown neighbourhood and the flavours aren’t Latinos go to choices such as, Cool Ranch. They showed a white woman picking up that bag. It looked like at that moment; Richard was starting to realize that an opportunity was brewing.
Richard’s eldest son was getting bullied for being Mexican. Richard told his kid “You know why they don’t want you to be Mexican? Because they know it’s a superpower. They know that if you were proud of who you are, that they couldn’t stop you and they couldn’t make you feel like you’re less than them, because you’re not mijo. You know that superpower can knock them out, like Superman.” His son seemed like he wasn’t buying it. But his dad wasn’t wrong. Very wholesome moment if you ask me.
Later that day, Richard was eating elote (corn on a cob) in the film with his two sons. His youngest was saying his elote was hot(spicy), but he said it was good burn. As people around them in the park were making traditional Mexican snacks like pepinos locos, duros the harina and more, Richard seemed to have an epiphany. He was so excited to tell his wife about it when he got home. He immediately started telling her about it. She seemed skeptical. The thing about a dreamer is this. If you believe enough in what you’re doing, you’ll focus on it without any excuses or what ifs. His wife on the other hand had very realistic concerns such as “How are we going to pay the bills?” It can be your right-hand person that sometimes tries to shoot down your dreams. But not with ill-intent, of course.
Richard convinced his machine operator coworker to help him explore his idea with Cheetos. Richard realized he couldn’t do it alone. He needed allies, a team. With his wife’s help, he was able to explore his idea at home. He used his kids as the test subjects. They tested different combinations of ingredients with the core ingredient being hot peppers.
When Richard tried presenting the idea to his manager, his manager met him with a condescending attitude. He wondered how it would look if he went to the CEO saying the guy who cleans toilets had a great idea. Blue collar workers historically get treated like they’re lesser than. Does not make sense. Sometimes the person mopping the floor has more knowledge than the suit sitting at the top floor of the office building. A job or position a person is in should not determine how you treat them nor is it a measure of their intelligence.
Richard took a chance and called the office of Pepsi Co. CEO Roger Enrico. Roger Enrico was impressed that Richard saw his video directed at the employees of the factory. No one usually pays attention to those, which is why Roger was moved by Richard’s boldness. After Roger tasted Richard’s product, he called him up and said he was coming out for a tour of the plant he works in. When the higher ups of the company found out that Richard broke rank and went straight to the top, his superiors were furious. Even threatening that thanks to him, everyone would lose their jobs.
It’s crazy how much humanity is a slave to rank. Thinking that someone can’t talk to someone simply because they are in a higher position. They think that simply because someone is in a higher position than another, they’re somehow smarter than people at the bottom of the workforce. Richard’s wife was his ultimate support. Helping him educate himself, helped him create the formula to his product. There was a scene where Richard and his wife were at a clothing store looking for dress clothes for him. He thanked her for believing in him. Sometimes, all someone needs is one person who’ll believe in them. But of course, others must see that YOU believe in yourself, first.
Richard started to learn some basics on how to present his product pitch to the CEO and his board. A proud moment for Richard was when his father told him that he was proud of him. They had a rough relationship and his dad thought he’d amount to nothing. The time finally came for Richard to meet the CEO. He tried the professional approach, but it didn’t really work out for him. He decided to wing it and started talking about his culture and how he basically knows the demographic he is trying to serve.
He was able to convince the powers that be to order 5,000 cases of his product to test it in the market.
At first, like most product launches, it didn’t do so well. How many business owners have gone through this? Richard’s son suggested that the Cheetos weren’t selling because people didn’t know they existed. They needed a commercial. In the movie, Richard recruited his homies from the block to help him with his marketing strategy. It was dope to hear a song by Kid Frost played in the film. The song was “La Raza.” Richard made everyone at the plant realize that they needed to distribute the product themselves since the company put no money into marketing the product. That was the only way people would find out about the Cheetos. Word of mouth will always be the best marketing strategy.
Richard used his street knowledge of selling drugs giving out free samples so that way the customer comes back. The CEO said to his colleague who was trying to destroy the idea “The Hispanic market is the future.” Such an inspiring quote. Richard got a call from the CEO where he said he needed 5,000,000 cases (or bags) of his Cheetos. Thanks to Richard’s idea, he was able to save a lot of jobs and got his mentor promoted. The CEO surprised Richard with a new position. “Director Of Multicultural Marketing.” He went from selling drugs, to being jobless, to janitor, to visionary, to corporate position.
I got hit in the feels when the final scenes came up. Richard sitting in his new office, humbly wiped it down due to his natural instinct to clean. He called his wife who was a worker at a Target warehouse. He simply told her “I’m gonna need more ties.” She knew what that meant and was visibly overwhelmed with joy. The best thing that was portrayed at the end of the film, is that Richard never forgot where he came from. He tipped everyone at the restaurant him and his wife had just dined in. He tipped the valet handsomely as well. It was such a proud moment for me being half Mexican. It’s every man’s dream to be able to tell their spouse or family that they will never have to struggle, or work again (if they didn’t want to.) Now, Richard is known as the “godfather of Latino marketing.”
He became a top executive at Pepsi Co./Frito Lay. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos became a Billion-dollar brand and his ideas launched an entire industry of spicy products. Richard retired in 2019 after 42 years of innovation and leadership. His wife Judy stayed with him through thick and thin. She was there with him during the crazy ideas, the risks, the hunger, the stress, and everything that comes with pursuing a crazy idea.
We can all learn a little from Richard. If you’re an entrepreneur, educate yourself as much as you can by learning the ins and outs of the industry, you’re trying to be a part of. If you work at a company and feel like you deserve a promotion, prove it. Put in the work. Richard would show up before his shift and would stay with his mentor after he clocked out because he saw the value of investing in himself even if it wasn’t monetary at that moment. How many of us have been too proud to stick around and learn something for free? Nothing is free. We all have the same 24 hours. We can all take out even 30 minutes to learn a new skill that will help us achieve our dreams and goals. What are you willing to do to prepare for the dream you’re pursuing?
Thanks for reading. I truly hope you go and watch the film. It’s on Disney+ or do what others do, watch it online. Whatever it takes, watch the film! I hope it inspires you the way it inspired me. God bless you and don’t give up on yourself. But understand, you must invest in yourself. If you’re ready for the day your big break comes, you won’t need to get ready for when it does come.
Written By: Mario Funes
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