Sriracha: When Reputation Beats Marketing
For some, the simple rooster on a clear bottle with a green cap is a forgettable product on shelves busy with hot sauces, but for many, the bird proudly endorses a spicy concoction worthy of its cult following. This increasingly popular sauce is Sriracha and its history is not made up of calculated promotions or lofty big business goals.
David Tran, founder of Huy Fong Foods and creator of Sriracha, came to the US from Vietnam in 1980 and immediately began producing the hot sauce he had developed at home. It was a simple home chili paste infused with garlic that he bottled in Vietnam in re-purposed Gerber baby food jars acquired from American servicemen. Once in the US, Mr. Tran hoped his product would catch on in Vietnamese pho shops and maybe the larger Asian community. He never developed a formal name for his sauce, used his astrological sign for the logo and added an ingredient list written in Vietnamese, Chinese, English, Spanish and French. Without promotion, his sauce was discovered by chiefs and the vibrant hot sauce community causing sales to soar. Today, more than 10 million bottles of Sriracha are sold every year by Huy Fong Foods. The New York Times details the cult following of the sauce and the founder’s reaction: