So apparently the controversy over the sriracha smell in Irwindale is not over. Residents of the city are still complaining about the spicy smell and sting in their eyes from the sauce making factory, and just yesterday, LA Times reported that the Irwindale Council declares Sriracha smell a public nuisance.
I just visited the Irwindale factory this past Monday, and standing right outside the factory front door, I couldn’t even smell the sauce and had no stinging watery eyes or anything, and believe you me, I tried to sniff for that delicious hot sauce fragrance with all my might. The only time I smelled the sauce was when I was actually inside the factory itself, and even then it was faint. The factory workers are there every day actually inside the factory with all the sauce, and none of them looked like they were visibly rubbing their eyes or coughing or anything. I’m really wondering what the residents are complaining about. To be fair, I wasn’t visiting in chili season, so I can imagine there being more smell during those times, but again, employees are there every day. Are they complaining that it’s a “nuisance”? They would know better than anyone else. Hopefully, we can get a scientific evidence-based resolution to this problem, instead of just hear-say complaints from people, or someone needs to investigate and see what’s really behind this claim of “public nuisance”.
With an dedicated annual festival, fan products, and so much demand that they had to move to a bigger factory, this rockstar hot chili sauce, Huy Fong’s sriracha, is clearly a hit. When I first saw this sauce as a kid, my reaction was probably what the average American’s reaction would be–this stuff is from Asia. The truth is, though, that the sauce is very much made in America. It may have Asian heritage, but it was conceived and homegrown in these United States. My trip to the holy land of hot sauce, the new Huy Fong Factory in Irwindale, CA, has made that all the more apparent.
After checking in with security and donning a sanitary hair cap, visitors for this tour get to hop on a Huy Fong golf cart. How cool is that? Would be even cooler if it was all red.
When you get into the factory, you start by going past where they dump the red jalapeno chili peppers into a conveyor to a machine that grinds it all up. Then it transfers through some pipes where salt and vinegar is added.
After that, it is stored away in large blue barrels so that there is a steady flow of sriracha year round.
The next step is the mixing in of the garlic and sugar, which happens in these huge rooms.
A machine makes the signature clear plastic bottles that are filled with the red delight.
Then the filled bottles are topped with the classic green caps and conveyed out for packaging.
The bottles are sorted, boxed, and wrapped up all by the assembly line robots.
Finally, the stacks and stacks of wrapped boxes are sorted and organized for delivery.
On every single one of these hundreds of thousands of boxes is the very clearly marked label: MADE IN USA. And this is pretty true through and through. The jalapeno peppers are all grown locally, the blue barrels are made in house as are the plastic bottle containers, and Huy Fong even has all of their own mechanics on site maintaining and fixing the machines that do it all. It’s an American company making an American sauce sustaining American jobs.
At the end of the tour, each visitor got a little bottle of sriracha to take home–a perfect end to a perfect day.
When I filled out the survey at the end of the tour, one of the questions was whether I experienced any health issues after visiting the factory. In response, I wrote down the word “hungry”.
Want to take your own tour of the Sriracha factory and experience the “nuisance” for yourself? Make an appointment: 626-286-8328.