These are tough times for America's most famous Sriracha. While Huy Fong founder David Tran — the guy who makes the green-capped, rooster-emblazoned bottle you see everywhere — continues his long municipal headache in Irwindale, California, his competitors are looking to strike with their own versions. The latest, and perhaps most threatening, is Tabasco. In fact, the hot-sauce giant has already launched its brand of Sriracha, but for some reason, the company appears to be keeping it a secret.
You might think that a major product launch like this would normally be accompanied by a big media rollout, but apart from some talk on an LSU message board thread and a brief shout-out on Vice, there's been almost no mention of Tabasco's Sriracha. In fact, it seems the only place you can even buy it is on the company's official "country store." (At $4.99 for a 15-ounce bottle, or 33 cents an ounce, it's about twice as expensive as Huy Fong Sriracha.)
So what's going on? Why keep things so hush-hush? We asked reps for Tabasco, who wrote back this boilerplate email:
Tabasco Sriracha Sauce is a limited edition product, currently only available through the Tabasco Country Store. As McIlhenny Company develops new products and innovations, occasionally they are shared with fans through the Country Store.
Tabasco Sriracha Sauce is made with red peppers and has the slightly sweet and garlicky taste of a traditional sriracha sauce with the signature Tabasco Sauce balance of vinegar.
But rumors from Avery Island suggest the reality is that Tabasco simply isn't yet pleased with the product or the packaging, at least not enough for a national rollout. We've heard that might happen in early 2015, but Tabasco officials are, predictably, staying quiet about that.
It makes you wonder why the company would release this product at all. It could be to capitalize on Tran's current problems, or maybe the company really does just want to offer it to fans first. Either way, if and when Tabasco goes big with its Sriracha, the implications for the Thai hot-sauce industry could be huge: Tabasco, which is still a family-run business, is in 166 countries — where it routinely outsells the spicy competition, including local brands. It doesn't matter that connoisseurs may dismiss the brand's acrid, vinegary taste — the company's unparalleled distribution means that, once it's really released, Tabasco-branded Sriracha could quite easily become the world's most-consumed version of the sauce on the entire planet.