Meet the world’s newest cocky billionaire:

Key points
  • 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.
One product made David Tran arguably the spiciest billionaire in the world.

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.

Mr. Tran, 77, is the sole owner of Huy Fong, his business, which he named after the ship he traveled on to escape Vietnam.
He described Sriracha as “a rich man’s sauce for a poor man’s price”, and now he has become one of them himself.

So how did he do it?

From refugees to wealth

Mr. Tran, of Chinese origin, was born in Vietnam, where in 1970 he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War as a cook for five years.

His family’s dream of turning chili into sauce was cut short when the communist Vietnamese government cracked down on ethnic Chinese in 1978.

He later fled the country in December 1978 with over 3,000 refugees on a cargo ship called the Huey Fong.
The ship that carried him to start a new life would become the namesake of the company he founded, Hai Fong, paired with his Chinese astrological sign, the rooster.

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.

A bunch of bottles of Sriracha.

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.

“By February, I was making the sauce.”
Before Sriracha became a household staple, Mr. Tran and his family jumped on bicycles and delivered their first bottles of sauce, packaged in recycled baby food jars, to small shops and restaurants.
“I made this sauce for the Asian community,” he said.

“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.”

A man stands in a factory.

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?

Chili peppers, bunch of garlic, some sugar and salt along with distilled vinegar. Bottled in a plastic bottle, with a green squeeze cap, and at a relatively affordable price.

But despite the hype and desire for more profit, Tran told Vice Munchies that he never raised the wholesale price of Srirach.

His idea has always been to “make sauce for a rich man at a poor man’s price.”
The origin of the sauce can be traced decades earlier, to 1949, from a woman who lived in Si Racha, Thailand. She named the sauce after her hometown.
Thai Sriracha is known to be sweeter, thinner and softer.

“I know it’s not a Thai Sriracha,” Mr. Tran replied. “This is my Sriracha.”

How popular is it?

According to IBISWorld, Huy Fong Foods is currently valued at US$1 billion (US$1.5 billion) based on estimated sales of US$131 million (US$199 million) in 2020.
18,000 bottles of Sriracha are produced every hour. The sauce is tattooed . You can wear some .
People embody ; There are many fan pages on Facebook – .

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.