There’s still a lot of drama surrounding the Sriracha factory in California


Sriracha at the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, Calif. (Nick Ut/AP)

The saga of the Sriracha plant in California continues to churn, several months after word first got out that a city near Los Angeles wanted to shut down the factory because of the smell.

Some background, in case you weren’t following this story: When we talk about Sriracha in the United States, we’re usually talking about the red chili sauce produced by Huy Fong Foods. The stuff is massively popular, with Huy Fong selling tens of millions of dollars worth of sauce a year, earning it fan mail, copycats and a place on shelves and in cabinets across the country.

But in Irwindale, Calif., where Huy Fong produces the stuff, people had a problem with the omnipresent condiment. Or, rather, the smell that’s coming out of the factory. One resident there told the Associated Press that the odor was akin to “having a plate of chili peppers shoved right in your face.” Others complain of burning eyes and throats. So the city filed a lawsuit that said the smell was a public nuisance.

This prompted the panic that emerged in story after story after story: The factory was going to shut down! Sriracha would disappear! Panic reigned, chaos consumed the streets, et cetera. (Actually, while people warned that a black market could emerge, all that happened was some people stocked up on extra bottles and looked for alternative versions of the stuff.) Then a judge ruled that the plant could keep making Sriracha, so scratch all that. (A judge said later that the company had to make changes that would eliminate any odors.)

David Tran, the creator of the sauce and the founder of Huy Fong, said last month the entire thing made him think about moving the factory. But earlier this week, he said he wanted to stay in Irwindale, though he has considered opening another factory.

At least one elected official in the San Fernando Valley said that his district would happily welcome the plant. Earlier this week, officials and lawmakers from Texas toured the Irwindale facility, raising the issue of whether Texas could potentially lure the sauce plant down the line. Texas state Rep. Jason Villalba, one of the elected officials who went to the Irwindale factory, said that the visit was about expansion, not just moving the factory to Texas:

The Sriracha plant is on the agenda for the Irwindale City Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday night, but don’t expect much to happen there. The agenda includes a note that the council should push the issue back two weeks to the May 28 meeting.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman · May 14