The Story of Sriracha

The New York Times featured an interesting article about Sriracha this week, shedding some light on this increasingly popular chili sauce. I had actually formed quite a few assumptions regarding Sriracha that turned out to be totally wrong (turns out, this condiment is just about as American as ketchup). Even so, I have a distinct memory of discussing Sriracha with a friend back in the early-90s, as we passed the bottle back and forth, doctoring up slices of cold pizza in his Japantown apartment. I’ve kept a bottle of Sriracha in the fridge ever since.

For the link to the full NY Times story, please click here (if you’re not already registered with the Times, it’s free).

Rosemead, CA —

AFTER-HOURS calls to Huy Fong Foods, here in the suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles, are intercepted by an answering machine. One recent day, 14 messages were blinking when Donna Lam, the operations manager, hit “play.”

A woman told of smearing Huy Fong’s flagship product, Tuong Ot Sriracha (Sriracha Chili Sauce), on multigrain snack chips. A man proclaimed the purée of fresh red jalapeños, garlic powder, sugar, salt and vinegar to be “the bomb,” and thanked Ms. Lam’s employers for “much joy and pleasure.”

Another caller, hampered by a slight slur, botched the pronunciation of the product name before asking whether discount pricing might be available. Finally, he blurted, “I love rooster sauce!” (A strutting rooster, gleaming white against a backdrop of the bright red sauce, dominates Huy Fong’s trademark green-capped clear plastic squeeze bottles.)

“I guess it goes with alcohol,” deadpanned Ms. Lam, who, like David Tran, the 64-year-old founder of Huy Fong and creator of its sauce, is both proud of the product’s popularity and flummoxed by fans’ devotion.

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