How Sriracha Hot Sauce got its start

A bottle of Sriracha hot sauce. (Huy Fong Foods)

Little did David Tran know that when he began acting on his passion for making chili sauce in his native Vietnam in 1975 he would create a condiment that has become an American staple.

He left Vietnam four years later on a freighter named Huey Fong.

A jobless Tran found he wasn’t the only one missing a spicy sauce, and began selling his Sriracha Hot Sauce to local Asian restaurants out of a 5,000-square-foot building in the Chinatown section of Los Angeles. To meet the demand throughout the state, Tran bought a blue Chevy van, driving as far north as San Francisco and as far south as San Diego.

Rapid success soon saw the company move first into a 68,000-square-foot plant, then into a 170,000-square-foot former Wham-O building, the company known for its popular toys like Hula Hoops and Frisbees.

Tran is known for saying, “Make a rich man’s sauce at a poor man’s price,” and with the success the company has seen over the years, his sauce has certainly enrichened the palates of many Americans.