Flamin’ Hot summary and ending explained

Flamin’ Hot tells the story of Richard Montañez, a janitor at a Frito-Lay factory who had a revolutionary idea that shot him to the top. The film is streaming on Hulu.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary:

Richard Montañez was a young kid who spent most of his childhood in a vineyard in Guasti, California where his family toiled hard. His grandfather was very encouraging but his father, Vacho, was a drunk who would beat Richard often.

At school, Richard became friends with a girl named Judy because of their shared heritage which was a cause for much strife. They would get bullied in school for being different until Richard found a way to make it a positive.

However, Richard was never able to overcome the discrimination that Latinos faced in America and this led to a life of crime until Judy, who was his wife by then, became pregnant.

She told him that he needed to get out of the dangerous life and find something stable to support his family. Try as he might, Richard didn’t have any luck applying for jobs because no one wanted to hire someone that looked like “him”.

Vacho, who found religion a few years ago and was saved, is still very critical of Richard and is constantly putting him down. Richard thinks about going back to the gangster life but when he finds out that his friend Tony works for Frito-Lay, he asks for a recommendation.

Richard applies for the job and gets hired as a janitor. He shows a lot of interest in the process behind how the chips are made and the machines that make them. The man behind them is Clarence C. Baker, a self-made engineer who’s been working at the factory for years.

Clarence agrees to mentor Richard who eventually learns how to operate all of the machines in the factory. His father doesn’t believe he has a future there but Richard is convinced that Frito-Lay is the place to be.

Things do not pan out that way though, as the 80s go by with Richard still working as a janitor at the factory while the Reagan administration enacts policies that negatively affect the working class. People begin losing their jobs as layoffs are rampant.

The CEO of PepsiCo and Frito-Lay, Roger Enrico, decided to record a video for the employees addressing the drop in company stock prices and the dire state of things while also trying to keep them motivated and hopeful for the future.

Richard watches the video and hangs onto one line where Roger asks his employees to “think like a CEO”. One day while eating at a park with his kids, his son comments on how the corn they’re eating is extremely spicy yet still delicious.

He realizes that Latinos enjoy spicy food and there aren’t enough snacks catering to that market. He decides to come up with his own recipe and with the help of his wife and children, they experiment with different chili recipes to get the perfect flavor.

He goes to his floor manager, Lonny, to pitch the idea but Lonny is too stressed out from having to announce the layoffs. Richard sneaks into Lonny’s office that night and notes down the number for Roger Enrico.

He calls him the next day and says that he’s got an idea that will save jobs and the company. Roger listens to his spiel and agrees to try out the chips that Richard has created.

After trying them out, Roger says that he plans on visiting the factory where Richard works and would like to talk to him about his ideas.

Flamin’ Hot ending explained in detail:

How does Richard’s presentation go?

When Richard finds out that Roger Enrico is coming to see him, he begins preparing to make his case. He and Judy get several books on how to give a presentation and sell a product and also gets help from his friends.

He picks up a suit and on the day of the presentation, he calls his dad to help him tie his tie. Richard prepares a very professional presentation with statistics and visual aides but he ends up speaking from the heart.

He says that the Latino market is untapped in the country and it will be hugely beneficial to produce something that will cater to that market. Roger is sold on the idea and tells his subordinates to get to work on it.

How are the early sales of the product?

The factory get busier as the first batch of “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos” is produced with many people getting their jobs back. However, the chips are stuck on the shelves for weeks and do not pull in promising numbers.

They plan on pulling the product but Lonny and Richard ask for some more time to prove that it will work. Richard’s son mentions that there have been no commercials for the product which is probably why it isn’t selling as well so Richard gets an idea.

How does Richard spread the word?

Richard gathers Tony and his gangbanger friends because they have experience selling products. He tells them and the other workers in the factory that they’re going to give out the chips themselves.

The entire community begins handing out chips to people at parks and neighborhoods and eventually the sales pick up. 6 months later, Clarence is promoted to Plant Manager but there’s nothing for Richard.

He’s asked to go clean a room in the office building and he finds Roger waiting for him there. Roger says that he believes in Richard and his vision and then places in a nameplate on the door of the room he was supposed to clean.

The plate has Richard’s name on it with his new position, Director of Multicultural Marketing. The entire office gathers to cheer him on as he finally reaches the top through his own hard work.

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