The Tale of Sriracha: An American Dream
Hot sauce has become a condiment that people around the world take more seriously than most others in their pantry. Throughout time and space, cultures from all over have been transforming chili peppers into a liquid treat to enhance the flavors of their favorite dishes.
In honor of National Hot Sauce Day, we watched this short documentary made by Griffin Hammond that dedicated 34 minutes to uncovering the surprisingly heartwarming story behind everyone’s favorite spicy ‘rooster sauce.’
Early Days of the Rooster Sauce
Huy Fong Foods, creator of the famous 'rooster' sriracha that we all know and love today, was founded by David Tran – a man who fully embodies the American Dream.
Tran arrived in the U.S. at 30 years old with next to nothing to his name after being pressured out of Vietnam by the government following the Vietnam War. Tran and his family, along with 3,300 other Vietnamese people with ethnic Chinese roots, were sent away to Hong Kong on a freighter, and they sat stranded in the harbor for a month as “Frozen Ducks’ before being allowed to land by the British.
Soon after, he was relocated to the U.S. and ended up in LA, where he found himself sharing his national dish, Pho, with fellow Vietnamese immigrants. He was inspired to make a sauce that would enhance the dish using simple ingredients: chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. When he began selling it to local restaurants, Tran was encouraged to make his recipe more mild to be easier to sell in the U.S. Of course, he kept with his original recipe and now people go crazy for its perfect balance of heat. When he officially set up shop in 1987, he decided to dedicate his company’s name, Huy Fong Foods, to the ship that carried him out of Vietnam in 1978.
Where the Rooster Sauce is today
Huy Fong's sriracha has since progressed into an icon of pop culture – without any official marketing or advertising. As Tran will tell you, there’s simply no time to think about advertising when bottles are flying off the shelves. However, you can find plenty of imagined ads from sriracha-crazy fans out there.
As the world's favorite hot sauce, Huy Fong's sriracha brings in over $150 million in revenue. The company's success has remained untouched through periods of economic distress, and sales have continued to climb. Tran has declined offers from outside corporations looking to buy him out and remains steadfast in his mission to create a lasting business that will sustain his family for generations to come. Huy Fong has always been about the people, not the profits. In this spirit, Tran has always aspired to keep the price low to stay true to his mission to be accessible to all.
I try to do something for my chile friends whether they have money or no money - David Tran
Watch the short documentary for yourself on Amazon or Apple TV and let us know what you think. You can also get some behind the scenes move magic with the director's cut for free here.
And for all of our fellow rooster sauce fans out there, check out our full Sriracha-inspired line – on sale now!