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Thread: Hot Sauce!

  1. #76
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.


    Huy Fong Foods suspends production of sriracha, sambal oelek due to ‘severe’ chili shortage

    Carl Samson

    4 hours ago

    Weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers have forced Huy Fong Foods to suspend sales of its products, including its famous sriracha sauce.

    In an email to customers on April 19, the California-based company said they are facing “a more severe shortage of chili” compared to a similar situation in July 2020.

    As a result, all orders placed on or after April 19 will be scheduled after Sept. 6 in the order they were received.

    One restaurant that relies on the company’s sriracha said it may not offer the sauce as a free condiment.

    The news places chili peppers among the list of foods and/or products that are currently in shortage, most notably baby formula.

    Weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers have forced California-based Huy Fong Foods to suspend sales and production of its famous sriracha sauce, the company has announced.

    In an April 19 email that only recently made its rounds in the media, Huy Fong Foods informed customers that they are facing “a more severe shortage of chili” compared to a similar situation in July 2020. As a result, all orders placed on or after April 19 will be scheduled after Labor Day (Sept. 6) in the order they were received.

    “Due to weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers, we now face a more severe shortage of chili,” the company said. “Unfortunately, this is out of our control, and without this essential ingredient, we are unable to produce any of our products.”

    Huy Fong Foods currently sells three kinds of sauces: sriracha, which is created from sun-ripened chilies pureed into a smooth paste; chili garlic, a thick, “chunky-style” hot sauce with a hint of garlic; and sambal oelek, a “full-bodied” sauce with the pure taste of chilies.

    In the email, the company added that those who have not received a confirmation after making their purchase will have their orders on hold until September.

    “We understand that this may cause issues. However, during this time we will not accept any new orders to be placed before September as we will not have enough inventory to fulfill your order,” the company said.

    Chili peppers have thus joined the list of foods and products in shortage so far this year. Baby formula, for instance, has been scarce since November 2021 and hit a whopping 73% out-of-stock rate on May 22, as per data firm Datasembly.

    Whether Huy Fong Foods will succeed in weathering the chili shortage remains to be seen. In late 2013, the company faced a similar supply crisis over community health complaints that forced it to undergo a regulatory check.

    For now, restaurants relying on sriracha are making the most of what they have. For one, Brady’s Sushi and Hibachi in Richmond, Kentucky, said it may not offer sriracha as a free condiment and would give only one free Spicy Mayo for every two rolls.

    Some Twitter users are just as worried.

    “Just found out there’s a sriracha shortage…WTF has the world come to?” one user wrote.
    Another sign of the apocalypse.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #77
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    18,000 drops to 2000

    Sriracha factory slows from producing 18,000 bottles of Sriracha an hour to just 2,000 an hour

    Rebecca Moon
    13 mins ago

    Due to a drought, the Sriracha factory in Irwindale, California, is producing about 2,000 bottles an hour compared to its usual production of 18,000 bottles an hour.

    The Huy Fong Foods, Inc. factory has been hit with a chili shortage due to an unexpected crop failure in peppers caused by severe weather conditions. The company estimated that it is only receiving approximately 10 percent of its typical amount of pepper products, reported NBC Los Angeles.

    With the increasing demand for Sriracha, the company believes that it is two years behind in production. The factory, which typically has nine conveyor belts running at a time, has reduced production to just one conveyor belt a day. The founder and owner of Huy Fong Foods, David Tran, stated that even during the COVID-19 pandemic the shortage was not as bad as its current situation.

    Last month, the company released a statement explaining the shortage in Sriracha.

    “Unfortunately, we can confirm that there is an unprecedented shortage of our products,” Huy Fong Foods stated. “ We are still endeavoring to resolve this issue that has been caused by several spiraling events, including unexpected crop failure from the spring chili harvest.”

    In addition, the company will not be taking any orders until September as it lacks the inventory.

    Huy Fong Foods is expecting pepper production to begin increasing next month through November. Tran stated that he is trying his best to keep all of his employees.

    “We’re hoping we’ll get more chilis to come the fall season,” Andrea Castillo of Huy Fong Foods told NBC Los Angeles.

    Featured Image via Hiroko Nishimura
    These are dark times...
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  3. #78
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.
    California man files lawsuit against Texas Pete hot sauce for false advertising
    Photo of Nico Madrigal-Yankowski
    Nico Madrigal-Yankowski
    Oct. 21, 2022

    A California man filed a lawsuit against Texas Pete hot sauce, claiming the company misled him to believe its product was made in Texas.

    In a spicy turn of events, a California man is suing Texas Pete hot sauce for being made in North Carolina, not Texas.

    Philip White, from Los Angeles, claims the hot sauce, which is owned by TW Garner Food Co., misled him to believe that he was buying a hot sauce that represented the Texas style of hot sauce, according to Fox 26 in Houston. When he checked the label and discovered that it was actually made in North Carolina, he did the most American thing you can do — sue.

    “Although Defendant brands the Products ‘Texas Pete,’ there is surprisingly nothing Texas about them: unknown to consumers, the Products are standard Louisiana-style hot sauces, made with ingredients sourced outside the state of Texas, at a factory in North Carolina,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendant’s deceptive marketing and labeling scheme violates well-established federal and state consumer protection laws aimed at preventing this exact type of fraudulent scheme.”

    The court document goes on to say TW Garner Food created this brand of hot sauce because “the state of Texas enjoys a certain mysticism and appeal in the consumer marketplace and is known for its quality cuisine, spicy food, and hot sauce in particular.”

    White argues that he was led to believe he was enjoying real Texas flavor but that the defendant had “cheated” its way into the multibillion-dollar hot sauce industry with false advertising.

    Perhaps surprisingly, Texas Pete is prepared to go to battle.

    “Rest assured, we will vigorously defend ourselves from these meritless claims,” a spokesperson for TW Garner Food told SFGATE by email.

    While it feels like a case from an episode of “Boston Legal,” the mid-aughts ABC TV show about lawyers that took ridiculous cases, the lawsuit is going in front of a very real judge — White is claiming the company did at least $5 million in damage with its inaccurate label.

    Written By
    Nico Madrigal-Yankowski
    Nico Madrigal-Yankowski is a food reporter for SFGATE. He is a born and bred San Franciscan. Email him tips at
    The funniest thing about this is that it's a CA dude filing the complaint. Doesn't TX have any pride?
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  4. #79
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Best April fools prank of 2023

    This announcement got picked up by several food sites (like foodsided here). Gotta hand it to LKK. Hilarious!

    Lee Kum Kee adds spicy and satisfying Sriracha Milk for a limited time
    by Cristine Struble 1 day ago Follow @CristineStruble

    For spice lovers, there is no limit to their devotion to the love of flavor. It is more a dash on some eggs at breakfast. In some ways, it can be part of everything. From plate to bowl to cup, why can’t it be everyone. Thanks to Lee Kum Kee and its very limited edition Sriracha Milk, it is time to bring the spice and flavor to the milk category.

    Many people have expanded their milk preferences. Oat, almond and now sriracha can be part of that latte, smoothie or even cereal bowl. For anyone who wants to be part of the hottest trend, it is the cartoon to pour.

    Looking at the milk category, no one has captured the spice option. Sure, oatmilk is smooth, but sriracha milk can have people getting a little hot under the collar. It is more than just about that perfect balance.

    Given that Lee Kum Kee has 135-year heritage, people can trust this special, very limited time offering. Many people have turned to the brand for its bold, Asian sauces for flavoring their favorite dishes. Now, it is time to bring that complexity to the milk category.

    According to the brand, the Sriracha Milk features “a blend of chili pepper paste, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt and 1% low fat milk.” Just think of this milk added to coffee. It would make that olive oil conversation go away.

    What about a bigger, bolder milkshake. Sure, there has been hot sauce and ice cream before, but why should the sweet and spicy fun stop there.

    More importantly, it could amp up many dishes that use milk but are bland. Why just have pasta when you can have a spicier, creamer sauce. What about those mashed potatoes. The options are many.

    Lee Kum Kee says the suggested retail price is $4.39. The very, very limited edition Sriracha Milk is available on April 1. Check or the brand’s socials for more information.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  5. #80
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Sriracha & climate change

    Can’t find Sriracha? Here’s why the shortage is a sign of our harsh climate reality

    The coveted sauce. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
    JUNE 26, 2023 3:59 PM PT

    Last summer, Uyen Le, owner and chef at Be U Vietnamese Street Food in East Hollywood, was scraping out her Sriracha bottles and trying to ration her supply. Huy Fong Foods had announced a shortage of the red chile peppers it uses to make the sauce, and the world was taking notice.

    One of her employees suggested asking the public for help. Be U offered free meals in exchange for Huy Fong Sriracha sauce, and it got around 300 bottles during the promotion. A year later, the restaurant still has about 100 bottles left.

    “I was always aware of supply chain issues related to climate change, and I understood that it’s something you have to adapt to. It’s the reality we have to live with,” Le said. “When we heard about the last shortage, we stocked up. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, is this too much?’ But it turned out to be prescient.”

    Now, heading into another summer, the world is a little more bland as the makers of the famous Sriracha hot sauce, with its iconic green cap and the rooster on the bottle, say they still don’t know when their supply will bounce back.

    In the Bay Area, some desperate Sriracha lovers have taken to swiping bottles from Filipino restaurant chain Señor Sisig, SFGate reported. A single 28-ounce bottle was listed for $29.99 at an Asian grocery in Oakland this month, with a limit of two per customer.

    At 168 Market in Alhambra, dozens of imitation Huy Fong Sriracha bottles line the shelves, but the section reserved for Huy Fong Foods bottles is empty. A market manager said the hot sauce sells out within a day when the store gets a shipment, and customers are limited to one bottle.

    “A lot of people call looking for the Sriracha sauce,” said the manager, who did not give his name. “Everyone is acting polite. But we know that people want it all the time. It’s been this way for several months.”

    The situation is no better online, where virtually all Sriracha options are out of stock on Amazon. At one point, a two-pack of 17-ounce bottles was listed for over $160.

    Drought in Mexico is to blame for the shortages that have persisted for the last year, a phenomenon that experts warn will become much more common on a warming planet.

    For nearly 30 years, Huy Fong Foods — which goes through about 50,000 tons of chiles a year to make its Sriracha, chile-garlic sauce and sambal oelek — sourced all its peppers from Ventura County’s Underwood Ranches, until the parties parted ways over a bitter contract dispute that led to a multimillion-dollar judgment in favor of Underwood in 2019.

    Huy Fong now sources its chiles from multiple suppliers throughout Mexico, where severe drought conditions have curtailed crops and led to water shortages in many cities and towns.

    In a statement, the Irwindale company said it is “still experiencing a shortage of raw material” and has no estimate when supplies will return. It produced some Sriracha in the fall, but output was limited.

    Although Huy Fong Foods said it is working to avoid a repeat, future shortages in food supplies are all but assured with the current amount of water used in the United States, said Gary Nabhan, an agricultural ecologist and professor emeritus at the University of Arizona.

    Large swaths of Mexico receive water from the Colorado River, but U.S. farms have first right to that water. For years, farmers have been growing their produce with diminishing water supplies, but it’s come to the point where the methods to grow those crops have to adapt to a changing landscape, according to a recent study authored by Nabhan.

    Jalapeño peppers require less than half the amount of water it takes to grow alfalfa or pecans, but drought and competition from water-hungry crops upstream still shrink harvests, Nabhan said.

    “Climate change is the ultimate driver, but it’s also how we manage the water equitably,” Nabhan said. “Any politician is going to be reluctant to allocate less water, but we’re not asking farmers to transition to more efficient irrigation techniques.”

    The United States is the top importer of Mexico’s agricultural products, increasing 14% last year to a record high of $44.2 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Mexican government.

    Chile peppers thrive in arid climates, and Mexican states such as Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Michoacán are some of the top producers, according to Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    But Mexico is gripped by a searing heat wave, and large swaths of the country are in a drought, according to the Mexican government’s latest drought monitor report.

    While shortages of chile peppers used in Sriracha hot sauce grab the public’s attention, other harvests are suffering as well because of the drought, said Shon Hiatt, an associate professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business who focuses on global energy and agriculture.

    Kansas, one of the largest sources of hard red winter wheat, is projected to have a historically weak crop this year because of drought conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    “Right now we’re seeing the droughts hit right straight up the Midwest. If you were to draw a line from Texas, from Mexico, just go straight north, all the way up through to Minnesota and the Dakotas,” Hiatt said.

    The drought’s disruption to Huy Fong Foods’ supply chain is similar to the broader situation that gripped the U.S. in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. During those first few months, manufacturers couldn’t produce items such as ibuprofen or electronics because core components came from overseas.

    “We realized, ‘Oh gosh, we are strongly susceptible to supply chain shocks, because we purchase everything from China and Southeast Asia. We don’t make anything here,’” Hiatt said. “It’s the same thing we’re seeing in agriculture.”

    Huy Fong Foods declined an interview request and said in a statement that it couldn’t specify which markets will receive more of its products.

    Some people can’t wait, so they’re making their own sauce.

    Kristin Nguyen, chef and owner at Garlic and Chives, a Michelin-recommended Asian fusion restaurant in Garden Grove’s Little Saigon, didn’t think about the cost of Sriracha sauce before the shortage. But the average bottles are now sold at a premium.

    “I put it in a lot of my sauces, but I didn’t want to pass on the costs to my customers and I don’t want to sacrifice taste,” Nguyen said. “I put my whole heart and soul into anything I create.”

    The labor and supplies to make her own Sriracha sauce are costly, Nguyen said. It takes about 10 pounds of red jalapeños, which can sell for up to $8 a pound. There’s also the cost of vinegar, sugar and other ingredients, plus the whole process requires time to ferment. Before the Sriracha shortage, Nguyen would just reach for a bottle of Huy Fong.

    “It really does affect me, because it takes away time from other things I could be doing for my businesses,” Nguyen said.

    She thinks that her Sriracha is close to the classic taste of Huy Fong’s and said she can work around the problem.

    “If [Huy Fong] wants to brainstorm on some ideas for substitutes,” she said, “we can crack the code.”

    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  6. #81
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Sriracha update

    When can you get Sriracha again? Sooner than you might think
    by: Zachary Smith

    Posted: Aug 15, 2023 / 02:12 PM EDT
    Updated: Aug 15, 2023 / 02:12 PM EDT

    EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — For the spice lovers among us, Sriracha can be a staple of any hot sauce collection.

    Lately, however, the popular condiment has become increasingly hard, if not impossible, to find at a reasonable price.

    When in stock, online retailers such as Amazon sell the condiment for around $4.99. Now, with supply so low, customers looking for the sauce can expect to pay as much as $22.99, if not more, from a third-party seller.

    Eyewitness News checked at several popular grocery stores in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and were unable to locate any of the elusive sauce.

    Ashton Schiel, of Schiel’s Family Market in Wilkes-Barre said the store does its best to maintain its supply, and even if they are out of Huy Fong Foods‘ brand, they have several alternatives available.

    In a statement, a representative at Huy Fong Foods, Inc. told Eyewitness News:

    “Limited production has recently resumed. However, we continue to have a limited supply that continues to affect product availability. Unfortunately, we are still experiencing a shortage of raw materials.” . . . “At this time, we have no estimations of when supply will increase. Because we do not sell directly to retail/market levels, we cannot determine when the product will hit shelves again and/or who currently has the product in stock. We are grateful for your continued patience and understanding during this unprecedented inventory shortage. We are currently working on trying to avoid future shortages.”

    Huy Fong Foods’ says while Sriracha has resumed limited production, their Chili Garlic and Sambal Oelek production is still currently shut down.

    Schiel states that a shipment is due, and Sriracha should hopefully be back on shelves, while supplies last, on Friday or Monday.
    The Atlantic has another article today, but you have to register.
    The Sriracha Shortage Is a Very Bad Sign
    Chili peppers thrive in hot and dry conditions. But even they have their limits.
    By Katherine J. Wu
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  7. #82
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    About those Paqui chips...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    That's good information to have. I had no idea that kind of thing could happen from eating a pepper.

    I thought I liked really hot, peppery foods, but I recently found out there are limits. I tried out some Paqui Ghost Pepper chips. Well, they are the genuine article alright, but I realized they were a bit too much for me. I got upset stomach pains and maybe even a headache. Although not nearly as bad an effect as the guy got from eating the world's hottest pepper, I discovered I'm not as hot spice-tolerant as I thought I was.
    Massachusetts tenth grader Harris Wolobah, 14, DIES after participating in TikTok viral 'One Chip Challenge' - first fatality amid viral craze
    A 14-year-old has died after eating what is said to be the world's spiciest chip
    Harris Wolobah was a student at Doherty Memorial High School in Massachusetts
    The chip is made using two of the spiciest chili peppers and is meant only for adults
    PUBLISHED: 16:56 EDT, 4 September 2023 | UPDATED: 03:35 EDT, 5 September 2023

    A tenth-grade boy has suddenly died after partaking in the viral 'One Chip Challenge' and eating what is said to be the spiciest chip in the world.

    According to NBC Boston, Harris Wolobah died on the same day he participated in the online trend known as the "One Chip Challenge." Harris hailed from Worcester, Massachusetts and was only 14 at the time of his death.

    On September 1, the boy's mother was called to the school when Harris complained of a stomachache. He'd eaten the dangerously spicy chip after it was given to him by a classmate.

    The young teen felt better after going home but he passed out at 4.30pm when he was about to leave for basketball tryouts.

    Speaking with the Worcester Telegram, police Lt. Sean Murtha said the boy was unresponsive and not breathing. He was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.

    While Harris's death marks the first reported fatality after eating the chips, many other children have needed medical attention after eating them.

    Harris Wolobah, 14, died hours after eating a spicy tortilla chip as part of the 'One Chip Challenge,' a social media trend that has gained billions of views on TikTok. The Massachusetts teen was a talented athlete described by family as 'a light that lit up the room'

    Harris complained of a stomachache after eating the chip which was provided by a classmate. He seemed to be doing fine hours later but suddenly collapsed when he was about to head to basketball practice

    In October 2022, a school district in Lafayette, Louisiana banned the chips from all campuses after multiple students needed medical attention.

    Less than one month later, paramedics were called to a high school in Dunwood, Georgia, prompting police to issue a warning about the snack.

    The 'One Chip Challenge' is a marketing campaign surrounding a single tortilla chip that is advertised as the spiciest in the world.

    The challenge has drawn a following across social media, with the '#onechipchallenge' tag boasting over two billion views on TikTok.

    Manufactured by Paqui since 2016, the chip is the product of Texas-based Amplify Snack Brands which was acquired by The Hershey Company in 2017.

    A new flavor is released every year, and the 2023 edition became available on Amazon starting August 9. While under ten ingredients are listed, two that stand out the most are the California Reaper Pepper and Naga Viper Pepper.

    The California Reaper Pepper was officially named the world's hottest pepper, measuring up to 2.2 Million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) on the Scoville Scale. The Naga Viper Pepper came in just below it at 1,382,118 SHUs.

    The scale measures the strength of various peppers relative to capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their heat. Pure capsaicin measures 16 million Scoville units.

    The 2023 edition of the 'One Chip Challenges' features a tortilla chip flavored with two of the spiciest peppers possible, the California Reaper Pepper and the Naga Viper Pepper. The California Reaper is ranked as the world's spiciest pepper

    The single chip comes in a coffin-shaped box emblazoned with a red skull.

    A warning label on the promotional site reads: 'Keep out of reach of children. Intended for adult consumption.'

    The page encourages people to seek medical attention if they experience complications like difficulty breathing, fainting or 'extended nausea'.

    Paqui has run an ad campaign challenging people to test if they can take the pain.

    A graphic on the site reads 'How long can you last before you spiral out?' and features an image of a grim reaper gripping a snake.

    Those who can go one hour without eating or drinking anything to counter the heat are deemed an 'Apex Predator'.

    It remains unclear if the spicy chip contributed to Harris's death and an autopsy is pending.

    On September 3, Dr. Rachel Monárrez, Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, issued a statement that was published to the Worcester Public Schools website.

    She referred to the teen as a 'rising star'.

    “As a mother and educator, I cannot imagine how hard this is on his family, friends and teachers. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him,' Monárrez wrote.

    'It is during the most trying times that the community of Worcester comes together and this is one of those times. May we stay focused on allowing the grief and healing process during this difficult time.'

    A GoFundMe fundraiser was set up by Tashia Roberts, the boy's cousin, the day after his passing with a goal of $30,000.

    At the time of writing over $20,000 had already been raised.

    'The pain our family is experiencing is unimaginable. Harris was a light that lit up the room with his presence and subtle charm,' she wrote.

    The teen was described as intelligent, quirky and talented, with a passion for video games and basketball.

    'Our family is planning to lay Harris to rest in the coming weeks, so I’m hoping that with the help of this compassionate community, we can raise enough funds to alleviate the burden of funeral expenses for his parents and siblings during this incredibly difficult time,' Roberts said.
    RIP Harris Wolobah
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  8. #83
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Underwood Sriracha

    Sriracha lovers are now buying this bottle at Costco

    Sriracha lovers are now buying this bottle at Costcovia maxyedor / Reddit
    By Carl Samson
    2 days ago

    CUSTOMERS STILL STRUGGLING to get ahold of Huy Fong Foods’ sriracha are reportedly getting their fix from a rival brand that costs cheaper at their local Costcos.
    Driving the news: Huy Fong Foods has faced a shortage of its famous green-capped sauce since 2022 after chili pepper suppliers in California, New Mexico and Mexico experienced record droughts. The Irwindale-based company previously sourced its peppers from Underwood Ranches — also in California — for 28 years, but their business relationship ended with a legal battle that resulted in a $23.3 million award for the farm.
    The shortage of the sauce has since led to exorbitant online resale prices and missing bottles in restaurants. Huy Fong Foods has allayed concerns with announcements of limited supply, but some who manage to snag new bottles have complained about its taste.
    “Your new sauce doesn’t taste the same. The old [one] is better. This one isn’t good,” one customer commented in August.
    Enter Underwood: Underwood Ranches, based in neighboring Camarillo, has stepped into the hot sauce market with its own sriracha. While Huy Fong Foods has a rooster for its iconic logo, Underwood stamps its bottles with a Chinese dragon.
    What customers are saying: Frustrated by the shortage and/or the alleged “different taste” of Huy Fong Foods’ sriracha, some customers have begun looking out for alternatives. Tabasco, for one, had the bestselling sriracha in the U.S. by the end of 2023.
    Underwood’s sriracha is emerging as a viable contender. Last week, a Costco shopper took to Reddit to share their store find: a two-, 17-ounce (482-gram) bottle pack for $8.
    “Looks like another copycat sriracha, except that it’s made by Underwood Farms. Huy Fong sriracha sauce has been basically non-existent since they had a falling out with Underwood, who had previously been growing all their peppers,” wrote Reddit user maxyedor.
    Users expressed support for the new product, which has also been spotted in Austin and Indiana Costcos. Some said they like it more, with one declaring it as “the Sriracha.”
    Still, one user argued that having peppers from the same farm does not make it original, as “there is more to the spice than just peppers.” Another suggested that Huy Fong Foods’ new sauce tastes the same as its old recipe.
    What’s next: Huy Fong Foods’ current production capacity is unknown. As of November 2023, the company said it was still dealing with a limited supply of raw materials, but more bottles have reportedly begun arriving in shelves in the past weeks.
    At the same time, the impact of Underwood’s sriracha remains to be seen. The dragon-bearing bottles sell for $23.50 for two in the company’s online store, making the ones at Costco apparently cheaper.
    Should've trademarked that name...
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  9. #84
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Chili Crisp

    The surprising story of how chili crisp took over the world
    As ubiquitous as chilis are to modern Chinese cuisine, the plant only arrived in the 16th century. Over hundreds of years, farmers refined their crop, and now China ranks first in the world for fresh chili production.
    ByErin Blakemore
    April 12, 2024

    Home chefs crave it. Restaurants incorporate it into bold new recipes. It’s chili crisp, and it’s the current darling of the food world. The Chinese condiment, which incorporates chili peppers, oil, and other ingredients like garlic, onion, peppercorns, and even fermented soybeans, is a kitchen powerhouse known for its versatility and kick. But how did the must-have concoction get started? Here’s how chili crisp was born—and why it’s so beloved today.

    A spicy introduction
    Chilis weren’t always in China, says Brian Dott, a history professor at Whitman College and author of The Chile Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography. Originating in Central and South America, Capsicum plants were unknown in China until around the 16th century, when a boom in exploration and trade brought chilis to the Chinese mainland.

    The first written record of chili in China dates from 1591—and it isn’t exactly a rave review. Gao Lian, a playwright who lived near what is now Shanghai, wasn’t “all that excited about it as a condiment or a medicine,” Dott says of his account. Instead, he used it as a decorative plant.

    Workers dry fresh chili peppers in Chongqing, China.
    But while elite Chinese enjoyed chili peppers in their decorative gardens, the masses began eating—and enjoying—the pungent plants. By 1765, local historians noted that chilis were used to flavor sauces, vinegar, savory oils, and preserved vegetables in Hunan. There’s even a recipe for a condiment reminiscent of chili crisp in The Harmonious Cauldron, the earliest Chinese culinary book to include chili peppers.

    Written around 1790, the recipe is short and spicy: “Start with sesame oil. Place whole chili peppers in the sesame oil and fry completely. Remove the chiles, preserving the oil for later use.”

    A national symbol
    Unlike other spices, chili peppers weren’t farmed and traded as commodities. Instead, they were passed from person to person and cultivated in small crops, says Dott, falling into the hands of skilled farmers who bred even better chilis over time. These peppers—and the condiment made by frying them in oil—became must-have ingredients all over China, eventually filtering to every level of society and becoming so ubiquitous that they were considered part of the nation’s identity.

    Peppers even played a role in Chinese politics: Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, was from Hunan and relished spicy foods. “He loved chili peppers,” says Dott, even going so far as to say that revolution was impossible without chili. Mao mocked those in his inner circle who couldn’t stand the heat, suggesting their inability to tolerate hot chili peppers meant they were cowards. That association of chili with military might and macho manhood persists to this day, Dott says.

    Modern chili crisp
    By the 20th century, chilis fried in oil were a staple in homes and restaurants. But though the condiment was brought to the United States and served at Chinese restaurants, it took until 1997 for chili crisp to be produced and sold on a commercial scale. That year, restaurateur Tao Huabi began selling Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp from China’s Guizhou Province.

    The condiment became an international sensation, and her fortune is now estimated at $1.05 billion thanks to the zippy sauce and over a dozen creative variations. One Lao Gan Ma chili crisp even contains beef, but isn’t available in the U.S. due to agricultural laws prohibiting imported Chinese meat.

    Over time, chili crisp gained a cult following—and even courted controversy. This March, Korean American celebrity chef David Chang’s brand Momofuku attempted to stop other manufacturers from using the name “chili crunch” on their products, leading to quibbling over, among other things, the spelling of the word “chili” and the authenticity of mass-produced chili oils.

    For Dott, it’s all a function of a food whose intense flavor sparks intense emotions. “You can learn a lot about a culture through food,” he says. From medicine to Momofuku, it seems the condiment won’t stop bringing the heat any time soon.
    That lead shot makes me think of this.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  10. #85
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    War is over!

    Momofuku Will No Longer Wage Its 'Chili Crunch' Trademark War

    Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

    Trademark and patent skirmishes happen all the time, sometimes morphing into all-out war, pitting big-time players against one another in corporate show-downs or legal standoffs. But this was different. In David and Goliath style, a giant in the Asian food and restaurant market threw the first stone, aimed downward at culinary members of the close-knit Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The conflict centers on a common Asian condiment known as 'chili crunch'*for which celebrity chef David Chang and his Momofuku food and restaurant empire was attempting to obtain and enforce a trademark. Chang's Momofuku took the step of threatening small companies also using the term — but is now back-pedaling after a public uproar.

    Momofuku has already trademarked the name chile crunch, spelled with an "e" and was also applying for ownership of the similar spelling of chili crunch, with an "i," which is also commonly called chili crisp. By naming the spicy, crunchy oil-based Momofuku condiment "crunch" instead of "crisp," Chang claimed proprietary use, consequently mailing out seven cease-and-desist letters to small-scale makers of products with the same name. The backlash was swift and personal.*Many took issue with trademarking a name that's been used so prolifically in Asian family recipes for generations. The letters gave recipients 90 days to discontinue using both versions of the chili crunch name.*

    Now, less than two weeks after The Guardian published an article in which a lawyer for one of the smaller businesses called Momofuku a "trademark bully," Chang and Momofuku have made an about-face. He has announced that his company would no longer enforce this trademark fight.*

    Backlash and refection change Chang's trademark enforcement

    Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock
    David Chang has passionate fans, many of whom see him as a role model and a shining example of success in the industry. That includes some recipients of the letter, who expressed disappointment and sadness that Chang would undercut others who are bringing Asian foods into the mainstream of American cuisine. Others fought back in unconventional ways. A spokesperson for Seattle's MiLA food brand, which received a letter, even issued a taste-test challenge over social media, offering to settle the matter with a blind taste of each company's product, suggesting that "Winner keeps the name, loser (it'll be you) backs off."

    Whatever the reason for changing course, Momofuku will no longer challenge those once perceived as violating the trademarked name. In a statement emailed to the Associated Press, Chang explained his change of heart:*"Over the past week, we have heard the feedback from our community and now understand that the term 'chili crunch' carries broader meaning for many," he wrote. "This situation has created a painful divide between Momofuku, the AAPI community we care deeply about, and other companies sharing grocery store shelves. But the truth is, we all want the same things: to grow, to succeed and to make America's pantries and grocery stores a more diverse place."

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    It took me a bit before I realized this was 'chili crunch'. It was such a ubiquitous condiment in Chinese restaurants back in the day.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  11. #86
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Sriracha halts production

    'Too green': Off-color peppers halt Huy Fong's production of Sriracha until Labor Day
    Isaiah Murtaugh
    Ventura County Star

    This file photo shows Mark Aboueid, owner of Santa Cruz Market in Ventura, holding a bottle of Huy Fong Food's Sriracha. The iconic rooster-stamped sauce could disappear from store shelves again this summer.
    Huy Fong Foods' iconic rooster-stamped Sriracha could disappear from store shelves again this summer — this time because of an off-color pepper supply.

    In an April 30 letter to wholesale buyers, the company said it was canceling deliveries of all products, including its chili garlic and sambal oelek, after starting Monday due to issues with the current chili supply.

    "We have determined that it is too green to proceed," the missive read.

    Though the green tinge doesn't affect the sauce's quality or flavor, Huy Fong Foods wrote, the company plans to halt production until at least Labor Day, when the next pepper growing season begins.

    The company said in emailed responses to the Ventura County Star that the document is real but said "at this time, we have no comment." Huy Fong sent a similar email to USA TODAY.

    For 28 years, Huy Fong's richly red Sriracha was made with peppers from a single grower: Underwood Ranches in Camarillo. But that closely knit partnership devolved into a contract dispute and legal battle that ended in 2019 when a jury awarded $23.3 million to Underwood. Jurors said Huy Fong breached its contract and fraudulently withheld information from Underwood.

    Huy Fong turned to other growers, but that pepper pipeline has so far proved unreliable.

    The company halted production in June 2022, saying a drought affected the quality of peppers from its suppliers in Mexico. Huy Fong Sriracha reappeared on shelves a few months later, but supplies remained low through much of 2023.

    The green-capped bottles made a comeback late last year, around the time it emerged that an anonymous buyer was making the rounds among California pepper farmers, asking them to plant hundreds of acres of jalapeño crops.

    Huy Fong growing pains with new peppers for Sriracha

    Stephanie Walker, co-director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, said the green tint in the latest round of peppers could be due to a too-early harvest.

    Jalapeños start green, said Walker, but go red and develop sweeter flavor as they mature. Growers typically target a maximum percentage of green peppers in their harvest, she said.

    Craig Underwood, the owner of Underwood Ranches, said the loads of peppers his farms delivered to Huy Fong targeted a maximum of 10% green peppers.

    Walker said her guess was that the new crop wasn't fully mature.

    The future may not be brighter. Walker said growing peppers in the crop's current southwestern U.S. hotspots, always a challenge, is getting more difficult as available manual labor decreases and global temperatures increase.

    Peppers are sensitive to weather extremes, she said, and a poorly timed heat wave can ruin a crop.

    Underwood now makes his own version of the famous sauce. Instead of a green cap and rooster, Underwood's Dragon Sauce bottles are topped with a black cap and decked with a twisting golden dragon.

    Dragon Sauce has seen some early success, finding its way onto the shelves of Costco and provoking a piquant internet debate on how it compares to Huy Fong's current product.

    Underwood said he's not surprised Huy Fong has had trouble establishing reliable pepper sources. His farm's own pepper growing practices developed over nearly three decades of slow growth, from an early 50 acres up to a peak of 2,000.

    At the height of the Underwood-Huy Fong relationship, the farmer said, the ranch was shipping out 50 loads of peppers a day for 10 weeks in a well-rehearsed annual routine.

    "[Huy Fong] has just not rebuilt that structure that we had," Underwood said.

    Isaiah Murtaugh covers education for the Ventura County Star in partnership with Report for America. Reach him at or 805-437-0236 or follow him on Twitter @isaiahmurtaugh and @vcsschools. Support this work with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America.
    Scarcity play...
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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