Hurts So Good. We Love Our Hot Sauce.
All too often, it's only when our eyes are watering and we panic reaching for water (or milk!) that the realization sinks in – that was too much hot sauce. And then it's impossible to resist the next bite, no matter the pain threshold it might bring. Once those pain receptors on the tongue register "too much!" endorphins are released to manage the pain creating an analgesic effect. So once the initial pain threshold is broken, hot sauce lovers actually get a small natural high effect from the endorphins released by hot & spicy flavor.
In a Feb 24th conference, McCormick's president and CEO (two titles, same person) announced that he plans to make Hot Sauce the "condiment of the next generation." In 2021 more than 40% of McCormick's new sales were in the hot and spicy category. This comes recently after McCormick obtained Frank's RedHot in 2017 and Cholula in 2020. In one year, McCormick doubled the household penetration of Cholula.
McCormicks anticipates that the younger generation will continue to drive the hot sauce market and that hot sauce growth is expected to outpace the entire condiments industry. The key to infiltrating more households is offering an array of "entry-level" hot sauces. It does beg to consider how much individual choice goes into choosing food flavor and how McCormick (et al.) groom consumers into food taste. We know the addictive qualities of high sugar and salt foods, but spicy also deliver a punch that keeps us coming back for more.
Enter Sriracha. According to Instacart, the hippest of all sauces is the #1 hot sauce in 31 states. Unlike its next two closest competitors (both are mentioned above), Sriracha is still a family-run business. Most consumers are brand-loyal to the hot sauce, and Sriracha adherents are incredibly loyal and vocal about their favorite secret sauce.
"My American Dream was never to become a billionaire. We started this because we like fresh, spicy, chile sauce." - Founder David Tran for the New York Times
Sriracha Magic in 7 Steps:
Sri Racha is the village of origin in Thailand where David Tran adapted a homemade hot sauce into his recipe.
The Rooster is David Tran's Chinese Zodiac Sign
The company is named Huy Fong after the Taiwanese freighter that David Tran and his family escaped communist Vietnam to the States on, and Huy Fong translates to "gathering prosperity."
The label has not changed since the founding of the company in 1983.
Demand for Sriracha has always outpaced production. From the company website: "To this day, the company still can boast that it has never advertised its products, nor does it employ one single salesperson — the existence of the secret sauce is only spread by word of mouth — the 'secret' sauce sells itself."
Tran has refused to sell Huy Fong in lucrative proposals several times. Today Tran's son is president, and his daughter is VP.
The business model is: "to make a rich man's sauce at a poor man's price."
There is one small catch to Sriracha – it has almost as much sugar as Ketchup. Depending on how much Sriracha one consumes, it's probably a negligible fact. If you've stayed loyal to the Mexican Cholula or the south's Crystal Hot Sauce for authenticity (umm... like me), it's not too late to make the switch or add Sriracha in the rotation.