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How a Vietnamese Refugee Built the Multi-Million Dollar Sriracha Hot Sauce Empire

Rooster sauce made $60 million last year alone, and revenue is only growing along with its popularity

If you’ve enjoyed a bowl of pho or a banh mi sandwich lately, or just wanted to kick up your taco, pizza or fries a notch, you’ve likely reached for the fiery red bottle with the rooster on it. Sriracha hot sauce, an ubiquitous staple of Vietnamese joints across the States, did not in fact originate in Vietnam. Rather, it is the delicious vision of a southern Vietnamese refugee named David Tran who introduced his culinary baby in the 1980s. The Los Angeles Times tells Tran’s story.

When North Vietnam’s communists took power in South Vietnam, Tran, a major in the South Vietnamese army, fled with his family to the U.S. After settling in Los Angeles, Tran couldn’t find a job — or a hot sauce to his liking.

So he made his own by hand in a bucket, bottled it and drove it to customers in a van. He named his company Huy Fong Foods after the Taiwanese freighter that carried him out of Vietnam.

After founding the company in LA’s Chinatown, he introduced his now famous creation soon after.

His Sriracha, a version of a hot sauce originating in Si Racha, Thailand, quickly spread through the San Gabriel Valley and eventually the nation.

Last year alone, Huy Fong Foods sold $60 million of the stuff. Revenue has been steadily growing at a rate of about 20 percent per year, and in June the company is moving out of its original location and to a new $40 million space. Tran told the LA Times that his American dream was never to become a billionaire; he just liked spicy, fresh chili sauce.

He’s turned down multiple lucrative offers to sell his company, fearing his vision would be compromised.

He intends to keep it a family business: His son is the president, and his daughter is vice president.

He has repeatedly rejected pleas to sell stock in the company and turned down financiers who offer him money to increase production significantly.

“If our product is still welcomed by the customer, then we will keep growing,” Tran said.

Rooster sauce seems welcome indeed. The Sriracha Rooster Sauce Facebook page has 285,000 likes, and fans gather there to share their favorite spicy creations and additions, leaving messages like:

My 10 year old takes this in his lunchbox everyday and puts it on ….. Everything!

Put this on egg noodles & chicken tonight and it was awesome!

I pratically drink this.. Lol

♥ ur my 1 and only spicy sauce

 

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