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Free Sriracha!

Good news, a Southern California  judge has denied Irwindale, Calif., residents’ attempt to shut down production of the practically holy chili nectar Sriracha  over complaints about the pungent smell of pepper and garlic fumes emanating from the factory, the Associated Press reports.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien rejected the city of Irwindale’s initial bid Thursday to cease operations at the Huy Fong Foods plant until the company can reduce the odor.

“You’re asking for a very radical order on 24-hour notice,” O’Brien told attorney June Ailin, representing the city the AP reported.

This means Sriracha grizzly can holster his flamethrower for the time being and late-night food trucks can postpone the planned siege of the city of Irwindale. BTW, the art work of Sriracha Grizzly can be purchased here.

Meanwhile, the sprawling 650,000-square-foot factory processes some 100 million pounds of peppers a year into Sriracha (pronounced sree-YAH-chah) and two other popular Asian food sauces.

The peppers get washed, mixed with garlic and a few other ingredients and roasted during this time of the year, when jalapeno peppers are harvested in central California and trucked to the 2-year-old plant. The pungent smell of peppers and garlic fumes is sent through a carbon-based filtration system that dissipates them before they leave the building, but not nearly enough say residents. They complained the odor gives them headaches, burns their throat and makes their eyes water.

Millions everywhere, including those down-wind of Oklahoma City’s Purina Plant, wondered why such sissies were allowed to live so close to the sacred sauce factory.

Huy Fong executives said they were cooperating with the city to reduce the smell, but balked at the city’s suggestion of putting in a new, $600,000 filtration system that may not be necessary.

Sriracha’s little plastic squeeze bottles with their distinctive green caps are ubiquitous in restaurants and home pantries around the world. Company founder David Tran said his privately held business took in about $85 million last year.

Meanwhile, I’m advocating a #FreeSriracha hashtage until the Lullaby League and Lollilop Guild of Irwindale, Calif., are stamped out for good and our Holy Sriracha is left alone to send a soothing burn across over the world’s collective palate as the Good Lord intended.


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Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene. Read more ›