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Will Sriracha troubles lead to shortage? Other brands worth trying?

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

We’ve been hearing about a possible Huy Fong sriracha shortage for several weeks now, but I didn’t believe the hype until a grocery shopping trip this morning at the Mueller HEB, where I saw an empty space where the popular condiment should be.

The California Department of Public Health is requiring the company to hold its inventory for 30 days to “ensure an effective treatment of microorganisms present in the product.” This means new shipments won’t be going out until at least mid-January, which has caused “Rooster Sauce” fanatics to panic. There was also a recent kerfuffle (that seems to have subsided) about the smell coming from the factory.

It takes us forever to go through a bottle of the sauce, but there’s no debating the cultural craze it has inspired. Subway and some 50 other restaurant chains now offer dishes that use the sauce as a selling point. More than 100 Sriracha-themed phone covers, costumes, T-shirts and more are available on Etsy, and there’s even a Huy Fong Sriracha documentary and an ongoing debate about whether or not the name should be capitalized. (My vote is to capitalize it when referring on second reference to the Huy Fong product, but lower case when writing about other brands’ versions of the sauce.)

So, what is a Sriracha lover to do?

There are lots of places that still have the Huy Fong sauce available, including MT Supermarket and some of the area HEBs, but maybe now is a good time to try out some other sauces to see if the sauce can really hold its own against a growing number of competitors. (I called Whole Foods to see if they were out, but the employee told me that they don’t carry it because “it doesn’t meet our quality standards.” They do offer other srirachas, though, but it does make you think twice about what exactly goes into the beloved brand.)

Serious Eats hosted a taste test over the summer, and Huy Fong actually came in third place, behind Polar and Shark but ahead of Trader Joe’s knock-off. I picked up both the Polar and Thai Kitchen sauces at the story today, which I’ll try over the weekend, but in the meantime, I want to hear if you think this Huy Fong craziness is over the top or if there is no substitute for Sriracha and have already stocked up? If you have tried other brands, which do you prefer? Would you spend $14 for an artisan jar of sriracha out of Brooklyn?