Some things in life are revered for their consistency. Foods like Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Nutella, IKEA meatballs, and Huy Fong sriracha all inspire cult followings. But Huy Fong’s beloved sriracha recipe may now be using different peppers, and pho lovers everywhere demand to know the truth. Behind the scenes, there is spicy drama between Huy Fong and Underwood Ranchers, which threatens to permanently alter the sriracha we know and love, Eater reports.
Eater explains that the pepper change is the result of a dispute between Huy Fong and their longtime pepper grower. The chili-based hot sauce is made with bright red jalapeno peppers, which are farmed for Huy Fong through an exclusive partnership with Underwood Ranchers in California. For years, the sauce’s peppers came from that single producer — giving it the signature fire-red hue and unique flavor. Underwood and Huy Fong are currently embroiled in a multi-million dollar lawsuit, with both parties alleging that they are owed money by the other, due to a “partly oral, partly written and partly established by the parties’ practice” contract. As a result of the dispute, Huy Fong has secretly stopped working with Underwood and is now obtaining their peppers from an unknown supplier.
Huy Fong took to Instagram to explain their side of the story. “The chili peppers [Huy Fong] had been receiving in the past was supplied only by one grower, Underwood Ranches, for the past 28 years...In 2017, Underwood Ranches, who had made high profits with its relationship with HF, decided to stop growing chili peppers for HF without any warning.”
But the drama doesn’t stop there! Underwood is now producing their own sriracha, touting their peppers as the key ingredient. “The Pepper Makes the Product,” they wrote on Twitter. “Without Underwood’s pepper, it’s just another condiment.” Ouch! Those are very fiery words.
“The Pepper Makes the Product”™ Our peppers are the key ingredients to our spicy products. From jalapeños & cascabellas to serranos & Anaheims - 100% grown in California on our ranches in Ventura & Kern Counties. Without Underwood’s pepper, it’s just another condiment. #sriracha pic.twitter.com/0F0ga0ypMP— Underwood Ranches (@URanches) January 11, 2019
This isn’t the first time that Huy Fong has had legal issues. In 2013, a judge ordered the company to shut down operations until they could control the sweet, delicious scent of burning chili peppers. Still, Huy Fong is not going down without a fight against Underwood. “Underwood Ranches came out with their own Sriracha Sauce but is suing HF for damages in excess of $20 million dollars,” they wrote on Instagram, and added that a court date had been scheduled for April 2019. It’s the spicy version of “we’ll see you in court.”
As of press time, it is not known where Huy Fong is currently receiving their peppers. Refinery29 has reached out to Huy Fong for comment about the new sriracha recipe. In the meantime, there’s always Golden Girls hot sauce.
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"The chili peppers HF had been receiving in the past was supplied only by one grower, Underwood Ranches, for the past 28 years. In 2017, Underwood Ranches, who had made high profits with its relationship with HF, decided to stop growing chili peppers for HF without any warning. In 2018, Underwood Ranches came out with their own Sriracha Sauce but is suing HF for damages in excess of $20 million dollars. Underwood expects HF to pay back the "golden goose" that they themselves killed. Trial date is set in Ventura, CA for April 29, 2019."