There’s a riddle in this business that doesn’t need to be solved: the best products need very little or no advertising. Tuong Ot Sriracha, made by Huy Fong Foods of Rosemead, CA, is in this best products category.
According to The New York Times, which is running an origin story on the company and its founding family:
Some American consumers believe sriracha (properly pronounced SIR-rotch-ah) to be a Thai sauce. Others think it is Vietnamese. The truth is that Sriracha, as manufactured by Huy Fong Foods, may be best understood as an American sauce, a polyglot purée with roots in different places and peoples.
David Tran migrated with his family from Vietnam in 1979 and by February of 1980 was making chili sauce in Los Angeles.
“I knew, after the Vietnamese resettled here, that they would want their hot sauce for their pho,” a beef broth and noodle soup that is a de facto national dish of Vietnam. “But I wanted something that I could sell to more than just the Vietnamese,” he continued.
“After I came to America, after I came to Los Angeles, I remember seeing Heinz 57 ketchup and thinking: ‘The 1984 Olympics are coming. How about I come up with a Tran 84, something I can sell to everyone?’ ”
While Tran made this primarily product for the Asian market, his dreams of wider appeal have come true. Sriracha is now a staple in gourmet kitchens from coast to coast, and is also being featured in dishes at Applebee’s and other quintessentially American chains.
The product also has 131,074 fans (at the time of this post) on an unofficial Facebook page and some brand enthusiasts–Travis Mason, a 36-year-old coffee salesman from Portland, Ore., for instance–has the Rooster logo tattooed on his calf.
All of which makes this a great story. Have you ever noticed how great products almost always have a great story embedded in them?