The wonderful and spicy Sriracha sauce. Does any dining table look complete without the famous red and green bottle on top of it? No, we don’t think so either. From Pad Thai to French fries, Sriracha sauce goes with everything and it is very quickly becoming the number 1 condiment that everyone must have. Because of this, it’s important to know all there is to know about this super chili sauce. Here are the Top 10 Facts About Sriracha Hot Sauce.
10. You May feel ‘High’ After Eating
There is some debate among food lovers as to whether hot sauces are good for you. Not just hot sauces but the spice in general. While it is always a good idea to add ‘ a little spice’ into your food, how much is too much and is spicey food damaging to our health? We’re not here to solve that debate; we love Sriracha sauce and we are proud of it. The health benefits, or lack of, from eating Sriracha hot chili sauce is for another day but one thing we do get from this sauce is a little natural high. Chili peppers contain chemicals known as Capsaicin and Dihydrocasiacin. These chemicals are what give the chilies their heat and spice, and are also the chemicals that burn when they come into contact with things like skin and eyes. Which is why it’s used in things like pepper spray. However, what Capsaicin also does is it ‘tricks’ the nervous system into believing it’s ingested something hot and therefore the brain releases endorphins throughout the body which gives us a natural high and leaves a lot of people in a momentary state of euphoria. Which is why Capsaicin is also used in many pain relief products.
9. Sriracha In Space
That’s right, this tasty chili sauce has even been into space. To the International Space Station to be more precise. Apparently, we have to say that as we’ve never been into space, according to astronauts, space does something weird to taste. There seems to be an ongoing debate between astronauts as to whether space makes you taste less flavor in food or it actually makes the food taste better. What we do know is that due to microgravity the body’s fluids re-align which can cause congestion and therefor can reduce taste by up to 70 percent. Then, of course, there is the actual living in the space station; lack of fresh air, stinky astronauts and working equipment, all of this can affect the taste of anything. That is why many astronauts have specifically asked for Sriracha sauce to be taken with them as the spicey sauce is apparently still tasty in outer space. So much so that NASA has been sending the Rooster sauce favorite to the International Space Station for years. The Huy Fong Food company loves this fact and if you visit their factory in California, you’ll see an image of Sriracha sauce floating in zero gravity. It also should be noted that other favorite condiments among the space travelers include Horseradish, Tabasco, and wasabi. They really do love their spicy foods.
Put your hands up if you are not a little excited by this one, we know we are! With the popularity that Sriracha sauce has had over the last couple of decades, it was inevitable that the hot chili flavor would find it’s way into other products. As well as the famous Rooster sauce, you can now get that Sriracha flavor in a variety of foods; as well as condiments such as mustard and mayo, you can also get popcorn, chips, peanuts, pretzels and even jerky with that spicy Sriracha taste. Now Sriracha has expanded into the alcohol market with Sriracha infused Vodka. Even though the bottle is a striking red, just like the sauce, the liquid is actually clear like all good Vodka should be. The smell of fresh peppers and that sweet and spicy tang mixed into a Vodka is proving a big hit, and we can see why. This Sriracha Vodka seems a perfect bass to make the most amazing Bloody Mary’s. We’ll drink to that.
7. They Have No Advertising Department
Continuing on with our facts about Sriracha Hot Sauce, we now turn to the world of advertising. It’s no secret that companies spend millions and millions of dollars on advertising their latest product, they even have fancy departments dedicated to this. But not Sriracha hot sauce. Huy Fong Foods founder, David Tran, not only doesn’t have an advertising department for his famous Rooster Sauce, but he’s never really advertised it at all, at least not in the traditional sense. Tran wanted his sauce to become popular by word of mouth. In other words, why spend millions on advertising when people will sing its praises for you, if the sauce is good enough that is. This may seem a risky move but there was actually more too it than that. When David Tran first started to introduce his hot sauce, he wasn’t actually going for the mainstream masses; because the sauce relied upon specific chilies, for which supply was limited at the time, Tran didn’t want to struggle in a logistical nightmare in which he couldn’t keep up with demand. What he actually did was target Asian shops around the California area, making sure he had a steading income first. Buy the 1990’s Huy Fong Sriracha sauce started to become popular and it wasn’t long before a cult following grew around it and by the turn of the century, this hot sauce did find itself in the mainstream and today it’s one of the best-loved condiments in the world. Growing the business slowly over time and using word of mouth tactics, really made this sauce ‘hot’ property. Whether it was a stroke of advertising genius by Tran, or maybe just a bit of luck, the results are the same and this hot sauce now leaves others in its wake.
6. It’s Not A Trademark
Perhaps one of the strangest and more surprising facts about Sriracha sauce is that it’s not a trademark. The name, the bottle design, logo, ingredients, in fact, nothing about this sauce has been trademarked. It is surprising in this day and age that a company can release any product without going through a vigorous trademark or copyright process. There have been so many high profile court cases involving such things; McDonald’s has famously been involved in many copyright disputes over the years. It’s not just food, the entertainment industry is also constantly battling over copyright properties; The Beatles Vs Apple, Vanilla Ice Vs Queen/David Bowie, Everyone Vs Napster, the list is almost endless. Yet, all of these issues and potential problems never worried Huy Fong Foods boss David Tran. It turns out that he had no intention of copyrighting the sauce as he thought that word of mouth was better than anything else and he was right. Having other companies like Heinz, Tabasco and even fast-food chains like Jack in the Box and Subway all use the ‘Sriracha’ name, all it does is promote the Huy Fong sauce as that is easily the most recognizable version of this sauce. So every time you see a type of food or restaurant with Sriracha in it and it’s not the red and green bottle of Huy Fong, don’t feel bad for them as all it does is make us want to buy it next time we are at the store.
5. It’s Fake!
As we have mentioned on our list of facts about Sriracha sauce already, Huy Fong Foods decided to never trademark or copyright their product in any way. While this may have saved a lot of money, and maybe even increased sales, it does leave the company open for others to make their sauce. Not just rival companies looking to enter the Sriracha scene, but actually fakes and knock offs pretending to be the real deal. This is exactly what happened. In 2005, Huy Fung Foods started to receive complaints about their sauce. It started out with a few and then the complaints began to avalanche. What the customers were complaining about was their beloved Sriracha sauce didn’t taste like it used to. In fact, the customers demanded to know why they had changed their recipe and some customers implied that the company had actually started to water down their sauce. Obviously Huy Fong Foods had done no such thing, so they asked the customers to send back the source and they would investigate what had happened. It turns out that the bottles were knock offs, with far inferior ingredients. Huy Fung Foods tried to find out who hade made the sauce, but they had no luck, however, it doesn’t stop there. The company later received a phone call saying there is a large quantity of Huy Fung Foods products in a parking lot. After some investigation, it was revealed that the products were more counterfeit sauce. The police discovered an electronic warehouse owner, Yak Szeto was behind the scam; he was arrested and pleaded guilty to possession of contraband.
4. This Means War!
As a company grows and becomes bigger, the need for expansion is a must as they need to fulfill the demands of the people. As Huy Fong Foods really started to explode with their Sriracha sauce they quite rightly needed to add a new factory to their expanding empire in order to make more of their delicious hot sauce. So, in 2015 that’s exactly what they did and Huy Fong Foods opened a new factory in Irwindale. However, the excitement of expanding didn’t last long as complaints from the locals started to come in. The main problem was that the residence of Irwindale didn’t like the smell coming from the factory. In fact, they described it as ‘offensive odors’ and the odors were making their eyes water and burning the insides of their mouths and throats. The town of Irwindale got together and filed a lawsuit against Huy Fong Foods with the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The lawsuit dragged on for months, irritating everyone involved, particularly Huy Fong Foods founder David Tran. During the battle, Tran expressed his anger by comparing the local government to ‘Communist Vietnam’ and then proceeded to hang a banner on his factory that read; ‘NO TEAR GAS MADE HERE!’ The city eventually dropped the lawsuit in 2014 as it was satisfied. However, the war didn’t stop there! Flick forward to 2015 and the city was at it again and filled another lawsuit against the company. This time the city of Irwindale was suing Huy Fung Foods for nearly half a million dollars in unpaid fees. The reason for this lawsuit, according to the city, was that before the factory opened, the company and the city had struck a deal in which Huy Fong Foods would make a contribution each year as payment in lieu of taxes. While the company paid the first three payments and were happy to do so, after the first lawsuit David Tran didn’t feel so generous with his money so he stopped the payments. A year later and the company countersued the city claiming that the city’s original agreement was with a separate company; Huy Fong Irwindale LLC. We hope that peace will come soon.
3. The Vietnam War Saved The Sauce – Sort Of
It’s a very strange thing to think about but sometimes good things can come out of war. We are not advocating war in any way here, but history is littered with inventions and discoveries that we use in our everyday lives that come out of the horrors of war; Canned food, glue, the microwave oven, and even the Internet have all come as direct result of war and Sriracha sauce could well be added to that list. Huy Fong Foods creator David Tran had a dream and that dream was to create the Asian Ketchup. His family owned a piece of land in Saigon and they grew chilies, it seemed like the perfect start. However, because of the Vietnam war, the market was saturated and no one was buying chilies. So, being a resourceful kind of person, Tran decided to make his ‘Ketchup’ out of the chilies and he sold them in used Gerber baby food jars. He didn’t have a name for the sauce yet but he did draw a rooster on the cans. The sauce wasn’t a huge success but it was enough to get Tran’s juices flowing. Once the city of Saigon fell, Tran and his family suffered from the communist authorities as merchant capitalists were met with disapproval. So, Tran converted his wealth into gold and moved his family out of the country. Many years later David Tran gave an interview with the Los Aneles magazine that ‘If things had not changed so much he would have stayed in Vietnam. It was a beautiful and peaceful place.’
2. It’s All About The Chiles
Unlike many other sauces and condiments on the market today, Huy Fong Foods Sriracha sauce doesn’t have a huge list of ingredients. That’s because their sauce is all about those chili peppers; the bottle even looks like one after all. No, the red body and green top of the hot sauce bottle is no accident as Huy Fong Foods are proud of their peppers and love to show it off. Made with fresh peppers, the sauce doesn’t add any water or artificial flavors. Only some garlic to give it that distinct taste. Even though the recipe for Sriracha sauce hasn’t changed in years, the sauce is actually getting spicier. That’s because of the chilies they harvest are getting spicer with each crop. Incidentally, the chili peppers used to make Sriracha sauce still isn’t as hot as the legendary Jalapeno pepper. According to the Scoville scale, which measures spice and heat in food, the Sriracha peppers come in somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 points whereas the mighty Jalapeno can reach levels of 8,000 points. Now that is spicy.
1. The Owner Put A Lot Of Himself Into It
It’s fair to say that the Sriracha Hot Chilli Sauce has a very distinct look, flavor, and design and there is a reason for that. When you look at a bottle of Sriracha sauce, you are not staring at a clever marketing campaign in which many people in expensive suits sat around and brainstormed the perfect product. No. You are looking at a story and a journey of someone’s life and that life is David Tran. After fleeing Vietnam in the late 1970’s on a freighter named ‘Huey Fong, the ship actually picked up many refugees leaving Vietnam and looking for refuge in Hong Kong. Eventually, David Tran and his family arrived in the U.S. Boston first, then they moved on to California to conquer the chili sauce world. Not only is the company named after the ship that saved him, as well as the sauce is named after a town in Thailand – Sri Racha. The bottle is also designed on Trans first venture into hot sauce during the Vietnam war, in which he drew a Rooster on his cans. Once in the U.S, Tran commissioned a street artist from Chinatown to come up with a design that was different from other food companies but also had ties to the roots of the sauce. There is no denying that David Tran put everything he had into the hot sauce and it shows. Maybe this is yet another reason why the world has now fallen in love with this special; chili sauce.