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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Our reaction to the halt in sriracha shipments.
Our reaction to the halt in sriracha shipments.
From the "Hot eggs: Milwaukee" series.
From the "Hot eggs: Milwaukee" series.
Laverne. This one's for you.
Laverne. This one's for you.
From the "Hot eggs: Milwaukee" series.
From the "Hot eggs: Milwaukee" series.

Will Brew City suffer a sriracha shortage?

The end of 2013 has been stone cold for America’s trendiest hot sauce. 

In November, Huy Fong Foods – the company that produces a sriracha that is often called "rooster sauce" – was ordered to partially shut down its Irwindale, Calif., factory after neighbors complained of the spicy smells and lung-irritating fumes it was allegedly producing.

Last week, Huy Fong Foods stopped shipments of all its products – but not because of the complaints. Instead, the company did it to comply with California Department of Public Health regulations that require a 30-day waiting period before uncooked processed foods can be sent out in order to check for pathogens.

The combination of the two events put some rooster sauce wooers in a tailspin and they've been cleaning out grocery stores of the goods.

Curiosity (and fear) got the best of me, and I decided to contact Roundy’s, one of Milwaukee’s large retail grocery companies, to find out if the product was flying off shelves locally and if there have been any distribution interruptions. 

"Currently, we are not experiencing any supply issues," says James Hyland, Roundy’s spokesperson.

I decided to do some very unscientific research myself and went to three Pick ‘N Save grocery stores today. Two of them: the East Pointe and the Bay View locations, had three and four bottles left, respectively, on display. The other hot sauces were fully stocked.

The National Avenue Pick ‘N Save did not have any bottles of Huy Fong’s Sriracha on the shelves. I know I have bought it there before, but a worker told me they had not had it "in a while" and was unsure if they were going to sell it again.

I’m not making any assumptions here. The future of Huy Fong Foods is unknown at this point. And it could have been sheer coincidence that there seemed to be a possibly limited supply of hipster hot sauce available at my local grocery stores.

But I wasn't about to take any chances. So I bought a huge bottle. I’m kinda thinking I should have bought two.

Sriracha has always had a cult following but, trendy or not, Huy Fong’s version of sriracha really does it for my tastebuds, and I, too, was alarmed by the thought of not having access to the goods.

My family goes through about a bottle a month. It's our main squeeze. 

I am also a sriracha artist. (And I pronounce it are-teest.) This means, for about two years, I have scripted words with the red hot liquid on omelets just about every weekend for my breakfast companion. I then take a photo of it. Some of them I post to Facebook and Twitter. Others are for our eyes and mouths only.

I call it "Hot Eggs" art. And yes, it's a joke. And no, it's not a joke. I have different series of Hot Eggs, including a cities-we've-traveled-to-together series, hairband series and a naughty-word series. Some of the sriracha-adorned eggs in the Milwaukee series are included in the photos above.

C'mon, hot stuff. Stay my main squeeze. Don't leave me.


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