In 1975, David Tran started to hone his chili-making skills in Vietnam. During this time, he would store his chili in recycled-glass baby food jars, which were then sold and delivered by family members via bicycle.
Four years later, Tran fled the country on a Taiwanese freighter called Huey Fong, which Tran would name his future company after, once Vietnam fell under Communist rule. He then made his way to the U.S., where he was accepted as a refugee and where he settled in Los Angeles.
Following his arrival, he would go on to make, among other sauces, his well-known Sriracha hot sauce. The sauce is now finally making its way back to its creator’s home country: Vietnam.
Huy Fong Foods gives credit to its local distributor C. Pacific Foods for pushing into Vietnam. The distributor’s spokesperson Caroline Chang told the Los Angeles Times that the Norwalk, California-based business sold more than 57,000 bottles since it started working with a Vietnamese client last April.
“It is exciting to see them move this much inventory,” Chang said.
While the sauce is making its way to Vietnamese grocery stores, competitors can copy the sauce’s formula and even call it “Sriracha” because Tran never trademarked it, according to the Times. Additionally, some of the sauce’s competitors in Vietnam stores include its Thai version and Cholimex’s Tuong Ot, a fruitier and less acidic Vietnamese hot sauce.
“Lots of Vietnamese enjoy American Sriracha because it’s spicier and has more taste than the Thai version,” Diep Huong, an employee of Vietnam store Phuong Ha Shop, told the Times. He added that the store sells up 20 boxes of Sriracha a month.