Sriracha sauce (Huy Fong Foods)

Huy Fong's sriracha sauce (/sɪˈrɑːə/ sih-RAH-chə; Thai: ศรีราชา, pronounced [sǐːrāːtɕʰāː] (listen))[2] Vietnamese: Tương Ớt Sriracha), also referred to as sriracha, rooster sauce or cock sauce[3] for the rooster on its label, is a brand of sriracha, a chili sauce that originated in Thailand. The sauce is produced by Huy Fong Foods, a California manufacturer, and was created in 1980 by David Tran, a Chinese immigrant from Vietnam.[4][5][6] Some cookbooks include recipes using it as their main condiment.[7]

Tương Ớt Sriracha
A bottle of Huy Fong sriracha sauce
(with trademarked rooster logo pixelated)
Heat Medium
Scoville scale1,000-2,500[1] SHU
Sriracha sauce
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese是拉差香甜辣椒醬
Simplified Chinese是拉差香甜辣椒酱
Vietnamese name
VietnameseTương Ớt Sriracha
Vietnamese alphabetTương Ớt Sriracha
Literal meaningSriracha chili sauce

It can be recognized by its bright red color and its packaging: a clear plastic bottle with a green cap, text in Vietnamese, English, Chinese, and Spanish, and the rooster logo. The logo refers to the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac, as David Tran was born in 1945.[6][8] The green cap and rooster logo are trademarked, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office considers "sriracha" a generic term.[9]

History

A bottle of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha

David Tran began making chili sauces in 1975 in his native Vietnam, where his brother grew chili peppers on a farm north of Saigon.[6] In 1978, the new Communist Vietnamese government began to crack down on ethnic Chinese in south Vietnam. Tran and three thousand other refugees crowded onto the Taiwanese freighter Huey Fong, heading for Hong Kong. After a month-long standoff with the British authorities, its passengers disembarked on January 19, 1979.[10]

Tran was granted asylum in the United States. He started Huy Fong Foods in 1980, naming the company after the refugee ship that brought him out of Vietnam. The sauce was initially supplied to Asian restaurants near his base in Chinatown, Los Angeles,[4] but sales grew steadily by word of mouth.

In December 2009, Bon Appétit magazine named the sauce Ingredient of the Year for 2010.[11][12]

In 2012, over 20 million bottles were sold.[4] Huy Fong Foods says demand has outpaced supply since the company started making the sauce. The company does not advertise because advertising would widen that gap. Huy Fong has boosted production since 2013.[13]

Sriracha sauce has grown from a cult taste to one of the food industry's most popular condiments. It infuses burgers, sushi, snacks, candy, beverages, and even health products. Tran said he was dissuaded from securing a trademark on the word sriracha since it is difficult to obtain one named after a real-life location. This has allowed others to develop their own versions, using the name. Some of the biggest corporations in the business, such as Heinz, Starbucks, Frito-Lay, Applebee's, P.F. Chang's, Pizza Hut, Subway, and Jack in the Box use the name without licensing it.[9][14] In 2016, Lexus partnered with Huy Fong Foods to build a single promotional Sriracha IS sport sedan.[15]

Composition

Chili peppers on the production line at Huy Fong Foods
Nutritional value[16]
Serving size 1 tsp
Calories 5
Calories from fat 0
Total fat 0g
Sodium 75 mg
Total carbohydrate 1g
Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0
Iron 0

The sauce's recipe has not changed significantly since 1983. The bottle lists the ingredients as: "chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum". Huy Fong Foods' chili sauces are made from fresh, red, jalapeño chili peppers and contain no added water or artificial colors.[17] Garlic powder is used rather than fresh garlic.[18] The company formerly used serrano chilis, but found them difficult to harvest. To keep the sauce hot, the company produces only up to a monthly pre-sold quota in order to use only peppers from known sources.[5] The sauce is certified as kosher by the Rabbinical Council of California.[19]

Huy Fong Foods' sriracha sauce ranks in the 1,000–2,500 heat units range, above banana pepper and below Jalapeño pepper, on the Scoville scale used to measure the spicy heat of a chili pepper.[1]

Production

The production of sriracha sauce begins with growing the chilis. The chilis were grown on Underwood Ranch until the two companies ended their relationship in 2016.[20] David Tran, owner of Huy Fong Foods, contracted about 690 hectares (1,700 acres) of farmland that spreads from Ventura County to Kern County in California.[21] In order to make sriracha, the chili peppers are planted in March.[22]

Tran uses a particular type of machinery that reduces waste by mixing rocks, twigs, and unwanted/unusable chilis, back into the soil.[22] The chilis are harvested in mid-July through October and are driven from the farm to the Huy Fong Foods processing facility in Irwindale.[21]

Drums of sriracha sauce

Because Tran does not add food coloring to the sauce, each bottle varies in color. At the beginning of the harvest season, the chilis are greener and therefore, the sauce yields a more muted-red color. Later in the season, the sauce produced is bright red.[22] After the chilis are harvested, they are washed, crushed, and mixed with sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite as preservatives, and Xanthan gum.[16] The sauce is loaded into drums and then distributed into bottles. All drums and bottles are manufactured on-site, to reduce waste and emissions.[22]

Lawsuits

In October 2013, the city of Irwindale, California, filed a lawsuit against the Huy Fong Foods factory after approximately 30 residents of the town complained of the spicy smells the factory was emitting while producing sriracha sauce. The plaintiff initially sought an injunction enjoining Huy Fong from "operating or using" the plant.[23] On November 27, 2013, Judge Robert H. O'Brien ruled partially in favor of the city, declaring Huy Fong Foods must cease any operations that could be causing the noxious odors and make changes to mitigate them, though he did not order that operations cease completely. According to the judge, although there was a "lack of credible evidence" linking locals' complaints of breathing trouble and watering eyes to the factory, the odor that could be "reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility" is, for residents, "extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance."[24]

In late January 2014, the city of Irwindale announced it was expanding its case against Huy Fong Foods to include a claim of breach of contract, alleging that the plant violated a condition of its operating permit by emitting harmful odors.[25] The case was scheduled for jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court on November 3, 2014.[26] On May 29, 2014, it was announced that Irwindale had dropped the lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods.[27] During the legal battles, a Texas delegation offered incentives to move operations to Denton.[28] Other states had also made offers for potential relocation.[29]

There is a history of lawsuits between Huy Fong and Underwood Ranches, its primary supplier of jalapeños since the 1980s. In 2016, Huy Fong overpaid Underwood by $1.46 million. According to Underwood's lawyer, Tran attempted just before this to hire away Underwood's COO in order to form a new chile-growing concern, breaking the trust between Tran and Underwood. Huy Fong sued Underwood for not paying back this overpayment; Underwood countersued for breach of contract. In July 2019, the case was decided generally in favor of Underwood, with a California jury awarding the grower $10 million in punitive damages and $14.8 million to make up for lost contract revenue between 2016 and 2019. However, the jury also decided that Huy Fong's claim of overpayment was valid, so $1.46 million was deducted from the damages.[30][20]

Legacy

Filmmaker Griffin Hammond produced a 33-minute documentary about sriracha sauce.[4] It was funded with the help of a Kickstarter campaign which raised $21,009—over four times the goal. The film was released online[31] on December 11, 2013, in advance of submission to film festivals.[32]

See also

  • List of hot sauces

References

  1. "Sriracha: The Incredible Edible Rooster Sauce". catholicfoodie.com. Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  2. "Video". YouTube. Griffin Hammond. December 8, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Usborne, Simon (November 20, 2013). "Sriracha hot sauce: Heated dispute". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on May 24, 2022. Retrieved June 29, 2015. But like most obsessives, Erskine is fiercely loyal to 'rooster sauce' as some know the brand (in the US it is sometimes also called 'cock sauce').
  4. "Sriracha: How a sauce won over the US". News Magazine Monitor. UK: BBC. December 20, 2013. Archived from the original on December 21, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  5. Shyong, Frank (April 12, 2013). "Sriracha hot sauce purveyor turns up the heat". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  6. Edge, John T. (May 19, 2009). "A Chili Sauce to Crow About". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 17, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  7. Clemens, Randy (2011). The Sriracha Cookbook. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-1-60774-003-2.
  8. "Firetalkers: Interview with David Tran of Huy Fong Foods, Inc., Makers of Sriracha "Rooster" Sauce". Archived from the original on February 14, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  9. Pierson, David (February 10, 2015). "With no trademark, Sriracha name is showing up everywhere". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 7, 2020. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  10. Girardet, Edward (August 6, 1980). "Powerful magnet for Asian refugees". Christian Science Monitor.
  11. Von Biel, Victoria (December 16, 2009). "Best Foods of the Year". Bon Appétit. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  12. Patterson, Daniel (January 2010). "Sriracha: 4 Recipes for a $5 Ingredient". Bon Appétit. Archived from the original on April 25, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  13. Ferdman, Roberto A. (February 10, 2015). "The sad truth: Sriracha, the world's coolest hot sauce, is losing its edge". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 12, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  14. Hannan, Caleb (February 21, 2013). "Sriracha Hot Sauce Catches Fire, Yet 'There's Only One Rooster'". businessweek.com. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  15. Nudd, Tim. "Lexus Just Made a Sriracha Car, and No This Isn't an April Fools' Joke: Auto brand just got spicier". adweek.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  16. "Lose weight & improve your health with a real food diet". Fooducate. Archived from the original on August 6, 2016. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  17. Garbes, Angela (2011). The Everything Hot Sauce Book: From growing to picking and preparing — all you need to add some spice to your life!. p. 92. ISBN 9781440530654.
  18. Clemens, Randy (2011). The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 "Rooster Sauce" Recipes that Pack a Punch. Random House. p. 10. ISBN 9781607740582.
  19. Huy Fong Foods Archived 2013-12-31 at the Wayback Machine at Rabbinical Council of California's website
  20. Díaz, Alexa (July 12, 2019). "Jalapeño farmer wins $23.3 million in heated dispute with Sriracha maker". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 13, 2019. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  21. "David Tran: How a Vietnamese Refugee Founded a Multi-Million Dollar Sriracha Empire". nextshark.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2017. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  22. "Sriracha: From the Farm to Your Table". farmtotablela.com. October 14, 2014. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  23. Weinstein, Nicole B.; Krainin, Daniel M.; Schoonmaker, Mackenzie S. (February 17, 2014). "Sriracha Hot Sauce Plant Ordered to Cease Spicy Odors". The National Law Review. Archived from the original on February 25, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  24. "Sriracha hot sauce factory ordered to partially shut down". CBC.ca. CBC/Radio-Canada. Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 28, 2013. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  25. Shyong, Frank (January 31, 2014). "More legal woes for Sriracha plant in fight with Irwindale". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  26. "Irwindale's Case Against Sriracha Factory To Go To Trial This Fall". Losangeles.cbslocal.com. January 31, 2014. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  27. Shyong, Frank (May 29, 2014). "Sriracha truce brokered with help of Gov. Jerry Brown's office". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 30, 2020. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  28. Shah, Khushbu (May 1, 2014). "Is California's Sriracha Factory Considering a Texas Move?". Eater.com. Archived from the original on December 11, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  29. Favot, Sarah (April 16, 2014). "Sriracha hot sauce maker considers moving to Texas". Pasadena Star-News. Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on December 11, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  30. "Sriracha And Its Pepper Farmer Are Mad At Each Other". Modern Farmer. July 23, 2019. Archived from the original on July 23, 2019. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  31. Hammond, Griffin (December 11, 2013). "Watch Sriracha, the movie!". srirachamovie.com. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  32. Harris, Jenn (June 13, 2013). "Sriracha documentary: Everything you need to know about the fiery sauce in 30 minutes". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 21, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
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