Huy Fong Foods, maker of the chile-pepper-spiked, rooster-emblazoned Sriracha sauce that enjoys a popularity at once cultish and mainstream, is crushing the hearts of its most die-hard fans. The California company recently informed retail customers that it was halting production of its beloved condiment — and when word began to spread this week, a panic that might register on the Scoville scale set in.
The company said that weather affecting the production of chile peppers meant that it couldn’t produce the signature fire-red sauce, and that it wouldn’t immediately be able to fill orders placed after mid-April. The shortage also applies to its chili garlic and sambal oelek condiments. But there’s an end in sight for anxious shoppers — the condiment maker says it hopes to resume filling orders after Labor Day, when it seems that the supplies will be back.
In an email to The Washington Post responding to a request for more information, Huy Fong Foods confirmed an “unprecedented shortage of our products.”
“We are still endeavoring to resolve this issue that has be caused by several spiraling events, including unexpected crop failure from the spring chili harvest,” read the message from the company’s management. “We hope for a fruitful fall season and thank our customers for their patience and continued support during this difficult time.”
The trickle-down effects are already being seen. A sushi restaurant in Kentucky posted a message on Facebook notifying customers it might not be able to offer Sriracha as a free condiment alongside its menu offerings. “Since it also plays a key role in our house-made Spicy Mayo, we will start to limit 1 free Spicy Mayo per 2 rolls until we secure our resources,” read the note from Brady’s Sushi and Hibachi in Richmond. “Thank you for your cooperation and understanding during these challenging times.”
The restaurant later posted a sweet follow-up thanking customers for dropping off bottles they had managed to score: “We know we are loved when you wait outside our door in the morning to drop off the Sriracha bottles you found on the shelves at local grocery store. Friends! You are amazing!”
Sriracha lovers are legion (see the T-shirts and tattoos featuring the sauce’s distinctive logo), and news of the impending shortage was met with despair on social media. The pandemic and its attendant supply chain snarls have caused problems with all kinds of products, including yeast and flour (remember when everyone was making sourdough?), cream cheese and Thanksgiving turkeys.
But for many, the threat to the versatile sauce seemed like the final, spicy straw. Some suggested that bare shelves in the condiment aisle could lead to riots.
Supplies of the sauce seemed to still be available at various online retailers as of Thursday afternoon. But for those worrying about a possibly Sriracha-less summer, there are options.
May we suggest attempting to make your own version of it? Or if your grocery shelf is in fact bare, you might also want to experiment with other spicy condiments to take its place: harissa, perhaps, or chile crisp? If you’re craving heat, there are many ways to get it.