Carol, Eric, Steve and I recently visited
Huy Fong Foods, the maker of the glowing-red bottles of Sriracha chili sauce. The visit coincided with their chili-grinding season, which only lasts about four months. This year marks the company’s 35th anniversary.
The new Huy Fong Foods facility is 650,000 square feet, located in Irwindale, CA.
Carol poses with David Tran, founder and owner of Huy Fong Foods. Tran was a Vietnamese war refugee in the 60s who came to the United States with nothing to create his chili empire.
Carol’s seemingly indelible tattoo is in place; now it’s time to wander the Sriracha factory.
Two words: Christmas Card.
Steve makes funny; Eric quickly sidles by.
During the pepper season, 30-to-40 truck loads of peppers are received almost daily. Each truck weighs about 21 tons.
The trucks pull up next to hoppers, where their trailer-beds are hooked and lifted, easily unloading the peppers.
Huy Fong uses only fresh red jalapeño hybrid peppers, which are grown exclusively by Underwood Ranches in Camarillo, CA. From pepper plant to factory only takes a few hours.
A couple of the pepper grinders at Huy Fong. After the peppers are ground, they’re piped to mixers where salt, vinegar, and two preservatives are added to create the chili base of their three sauces: Sriracha, Chili Garlic, and Sambal Oelek.
After grinding, the chili base is stored in blue, 55-gallon drums. A lot of drums. The chili base will be used to make Sriracha and other Huy Fong products throughout the year.
55 gallons of chili-based goodness.
Blue barrels travel down the assembly line.
Huy Fong makes its own bottles in-house using blow molding machines to heat and expand the plastic to the proper size. Sriracha labels are silk screened on the bottle. There are nine bottling lines, each capable of producing 18,000 bottles an hour.
Sriracha bottles travel down the assembly line for final inspection and boxing.
A commemorative 35th anniversary Sriracha bottle with many more to come.