Meet the world’s newest cocky billionaire:
- David Tran, the man behind the hot sauce bottle in your pantry, is now a billionaire.
- Sriracha has become a fanatical household product in the decades since its inception, born to a Vietnamese refugee.
- The iconic condiment company is named after the ship he traveled on to escape Vietnam. This is Mr. Tran’s story.
Sriracha is widely known around the world as an iconic condiment that has been a household staple for decades, but very few people know about the Vietnamese refugees who brought this sauce to their dinner tables.
So how did he do it?
From refugees to wealth
His family’s dream of turning chili into sauce was cut short when the communist Vietnamese government cracked down on ethnic Chinese in 1978.
After spending six months in a refugee camp in Hong Kong, he received asylum in the United States in Boston, Massachusetts before settling in Los Angeles.
Sriracha hot sauce bottles have become household items all over the world. Source: AARP / AP / Nick Ut
“I landed [in LA] the first week of January 1980,” Mr. Tran told the New York Times.
“I knew that after the Vietnamese moved here, they would need their hot sauce for pho… But I wanted something that I could sell to non-Vietnamese people.”
David Tran uses fresh chilis harvested from his Los Angeles factory and very few other ingredients to create his world-favorite Sriracha sauce. Source: Getty / Gina Ferazzi
What’s in the sauce?
But despite the hype and desire for more profit, Tran told Vice Munchies that he never raised the wholesale price of Srirach.
“I know it’s not a Thai Sriracha,” Mr. Tran replied. “This is my Sriracha.”
How popular is it?
Originally started with a small building in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, however, Mr. Tran’s company eventually became a giant in its own right, with no advertising and relying solely on word of mouth to become the third most popular hot sauce in the US.