Sriracha is the hot sauce loved and adored by people around the world, but few have actually been inside the factory where the magic happens.
The fiery Sriracha chili sauce that is instantly recognizable by its iconic red and green bottle is produced at a single location in Irwindale, California.
The founder of multi-million dollar chili sauce empire, David Tran, began as a hot sauce-pioneering Vietnamese refugee who arrived in the United States in 1979. Without a job, he continued his work on his brand of hot sauce, testing recipes and gathering market feedback until he created what we now love today.
To find out more about the incredible backstory of the rooster sauce, NextShark sent three hot sauce-loving editors to tour Huy Fong Foods, Inc. to learn the process of how it’s made.
We were greeted in the lobby by our guide, Sabrina Martinez, and then taken into a conference room where we were given hair nets to wear over our heads and beards.
From there we hopped onto a hot red trolley that whisked us around the 650,000-square-foot facility.
All hot sauces produced by Huy Fong Foods are made from fresh red jalapeño hybrid peppers grown exclusively by Underwood farms in California. The special partnership allows the company to control their supply of peppers that are shipped to Irwindale two to four hours after they are picked off the ground.
During the chili grinding season, which lasts about four months out of the year, 30 to 40 trucks, each one weighing 21 tons, brings a load of peppers to the factory every day. The truckbeds are then hooked and hoisted by cranes to create a mesmerizing chili waterfall.
They are then thoroughly washed and led along a conveyor belt where any bad ones are picked out from the bunch. Afterwards, they head to the grinder to be mixed with other ingredients including vinegar and salt to create the base of the sauce. “The recipe is not so secret at all all of our ingredients are listed on the bottle… anyone can make Sriracha by using fresh chili peppers,” Martinez told us.
A video posted by Benny Luo (@bennyluo) on Jul 28, 2016 at 12:24am PDT
The sauce is then stored in massive 55-gallon blue barrels called “drums.” When they are ready to be bottled, giant pipes take the sauce from the drums and to the mixing room.
Then it’s time for bottling. Sriracha bottles actually start out as small plastic test tubes before being blown up with heat to expand the plastic to the appropriate sizes for each of their products. The bottles are then labeled with the easily identifiable rooster logo.
The rooster logo was chosen because it is the zodiac sign of Sriracha’s founder. The bottles are filled up with the beloved Sriracha sauce before being conveyed to automatic case erectors to be packed into boxes.
The hot sauce is then ready for shipping to one of the company’s distributors.
The wholesale price of a Sriracha bottle has remained the same since the 1980’s.