The West Coast could soon find itself with a lot less flavor. Sriracha sauce, also known as Rooster sauce, is under attack from an entire city in California whose residents say the stench of the fiery condiment is ruining their lives. Residents in Irwindale CA have taken issue with the Huy Fong factory for processing all of its peppers too close to their homes, claiming that they are not able to escape the smell and that the odor is causing some of them to have to temporarily move out of their houses. Some residents say it is impossible for them to spend any time outdoors because of the horrible stench. Foodies everywhere are in a panic over the idea that there could possibly be a shortage of Sriracha-an almost unthinkable proposition.
The lawsuit claims that “the odors are so strong and offensive as to have caused residents to move outdoor activities indoors and even to vacate their residences temporarily to seek relief from the odors.” Some residents also say they have suffered burning eyes, headaches, sore throats and coughing. The plant processes 100 million pounds of peppers during a four month time period from September to December.
One man who lives right across the street from the plant told Fox News “It’s like having a plate of chili peppers shoved right in your face. Whenever the wind blows that chili and garlic and whatever else is in it, it’s very, very, very strong. It makes you cough.”
The city has demanded that the factory come up with a better plan for odor abatement and that it not resume operations until it does so. The plant had previously installed an odor filtration system, but residents say it’s not doing a good job at diminishing the smell.
The sauce itself has an interesting history. When David Tran came to the US in the 1980s from Vietnam, he was vastly disappointed in our lackluster hot sauces. He began cooking up Sriracha sauce in the back of a van and selling it on the street. It became an immediate hit. His company has exploded in the last 30 years, and now Americans eat over 10 million bottles of Sriracha every year.
There are some foodies who love Sriracha sauce so much they put it on everything, including breakfast and desserts, gobbling down Sriracha chocolate bars and exchanging mouth-tingling recipes for everything from Sriracha cheesecake to Sriracha ice cream.
The Oatmeal, a popular online blog, posted a love letter to the spicy sauce that ends with a moving tribute: “Sriracha, you are a delicious blessing flavored with the incandescent glow of a thousand dying suns. I love you.”
The sauce is more than a condiment; it’s a way of life for some. A Facebook page dedicated to the sauce has over 60,000 followers, some of whom are now begging the company not to go out of business over this latest crisis. Jason Birthiaume writes: “please dont go outta business. I love this stuff i use it everyday its my favorite. Id be heartbroken things wouldnt be the same.” (sic) Victor Farrill echoes this sentiment, saying: “my food will never be the same without my sriracha, there has to be a way to stop this shut down of the best hot sauce on the earth…crisis times ten. i use this wonderful stuff everyday and jonesing for this product may cause mas destuction…sriracha nieghbors must move, since how do you not like the smell…somthings gotta give.” (sic)
Other fans of the sauce have started petitions online begging the city of Irwindale to drop the charges against the Sriracha factory. It is clear to see the foodies are in a panic as the attack on Sriracha sauce heats up due to complaints, but the company has not indicated it will be going anywhere anytime soon. Hopefully, the rooster shall live to see another day.
By: Rebecca Savastio