Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Losing My Favorite Condiment: Sriracha

Do you have a single condiment that you find yourself putting on everything? It could be breakfast, lunch or dinner, it doesn't matter.  But it always tastes better by adding your favorite ________. I know you can fill in the blank.

About 10 years ago, I discovered my new favorite, and you will find a bottle always in my fridge. It is the spicy hot sauce, sriracha. I think my first experience was by adding it to a Butch's pizza while hanging out with friends and a few drinks at a local bar. The spicy pepper sauce really did wonders to that pizza and I found myself looking everywhere local to find it. No luck, and I ended up having to buy it online from the factory in California. A year or two later, you could find sriracha at almost every grocery store around.

We always strive to find hot new trends out there, and it surprised me one day when Ray said he had seen that sriracha was an up and coming food trend. It had been old news to me. The Uptown ended up bringing it in and offering the condiment as part of our burger bar. Sure enough, the sriracha trend was everywhere and you would even find it as a major part of some fancy dishes.

Well, demand has finally caught up, and in recent news, there is a threat of a sriracha shortage. However, it is actually due to requets by the city where the factory produces the sauce because the residents say the red hot jalapeno smell is too offensive. They claim, during the harvest season in the summer, the grinding of the peppers causes residents to have irritated eyes and trouble breathing outdoors.

Huy Fong, the company that produces this tasty sauce, has seen sales grow 20% each of the last few years and has recently reached its peak production of almost 200,000 bottles a day. Sriracha's main ingredient is the jalapeño, which is grown on a 4,000-acre farm 70 miles away. When the farm started growing peppers for Huy Fong 25 years ago, its pepper plot was only 50 acres. The factory washes and mashes the jalapenos in creating the sauce.

A judge is set to make a ruling on the decision to halt production at this new plant.... and again possibly, I may find myself searching and searching for Sriracha.

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